Not only was it another historic Arraignment Day on today's BradCast, but it was also an opportunity to wish a very happy 77th birthday to our disgraced former President, who was celebrated with the circus-like atmosphere of a smattering of supporters, protesters and observers outside of the federal courthouse in Miami today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
Donald J. Trump's attorney pleaded "Not Guilty" on his client's behalf Tuesday, during his historic arraignment in the Southern District of Florida on 37 federal felonies related to his theft of hundreds of highly classified documents and repeated attempts at obstructing the government from taking them back. Those attempts included, according to the indictment [PDF] filed last week by Special Counsel Jack Smith, efforts to have his attorney Evan Corcoran commit a list of crimes on his behalf.
Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut, detailing the seriousness of these charges yesterday, explained how highly the documents in question were classified and the "bone-chilling" concerns about specific foreign nationals who visited Mar-a-Lago under false identities as Trump stored dozens of boxes of stolen documents haphazardly in a ballroom, a bathroom, a storage room and other unsecured locations at his resort property. "There's never been anything remotely like it," Aftergut contended, adding that Trump's legal peril is "extreme" and "that prosecutors' obligation, should there be convictions, would be to ask for the maximum term of imprisonment available." That would amount to decades in prison for the Birthday Boy.
We're joined today for special coverage analysis by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning columnist at Salon and Hullabaloo, and KEITH BARBER, a former Republican attorney who now writes for Daily Kos and Medium.
Among the many points discussed in our very lively conversation today...
- Whether Democrats previously critical of Attorney General Merrick Garland may now have changed their tune.
- The breathtaking nature of this "slam dunk" indictment and these charges.
- Whether Trump's problems finding lawyers to represent him will help or hurt in this case.
- What a lawyer would normally do when a client asks them to violate the law, as Trump allegedly did with his attorney --- and, now, likely star witness --- Corcoran.
- What should we make of the horrible Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon currently presiding over this case?
- Are we any closer to knowing why Trump refused to return the documents, despite repeated polite requests from the National Archives for over a year and a subpoena from the Dept. of Justice?
- What legal strategy should an attorney recommend at this point for Trump --- for example, to seek a plea deal to avoid jail time --- and would Trump even consider such deal?
We also spend some time debunking (yet again) the absurd claims still being made by duped Republicans that Trump is somehow the persecuted victim of unequal justice and that "Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton did the exact same thing, but were never charged for it!" Over the weekend, dopey, dishonest Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) even ridiculously claimed on Fox "News" that Trump "decided not to pursue any kind of prosecution of Hillary Clinton" and that "Joe Biden could have made the exact same decision, but he didn't. He allowed a SWAT raid on the very secure residence of President Trump."
Every point made by the lying Senator is simply false. Biden had nothing to do with the FBI search warrant approved by a federal judge after finding probable cause that Trump was committing several serous crimes, including those he's now been charged with under the Espionage Act, at his South Florida resort.
As to the handful of classified documents found at an old office of Biden's and at his Delaware home, Barber explains: "Of course they say, 'They should be treated the same!' So I say, fine, let's treat them the same. Donald Trump was not charged for anything related to any of the documents that he voluntarily returned. So, if you're going to treat them similarly, then Biden [who immediately returned all documents inappropriately found in his possession] should not be charged for any documents that he voluntarily returned. It's simple. And that is what's going to happen."
For her part, Parton dismantles Johnson's stupidly false claims about Trump having "declined" to prosecute Clinton. "There were five investigations into the Clinton email server," she explains, after writing about this very point on Monday. "There was the original FBI investigation. There was a DOJ Inspector General's investigation. There were two State Department investigations. And Bill Barr himself...named a US Attorney in Utah to also look into all that stuff. They all concluded the same thing: Hillary Clinton didn't break any laws with this."
"The facts of the case don't match at all on the Clinton thing," says Parton. "All of this is nonsense, it's what-aboutism. It is, of course, what they would do. And there are a million cases of poor schmucks that worked in the government that did much less than anything that Trump did, much lesser kinds of offenses, that actually went to jail."
All of that and much more in today's special coverage!
Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, because even as Trump now faces a total of 71 criminal felony charges in both New York and at the federal level (with more to come soon), our worsening climate crisis is undeterred and making life much much worse (and deadly) for everyone on the planet...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)