Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge and Fox legal expert Andrew Napolitano predicts that Donald Trump will likely be indicted, citing information revealed in the affidavit filed backing up the federal government’s application for a heavily redacted search warrant.
According to his op-ed penned in the New Jersey Herald, Judge Napolitano says that Trump will “soon be indicted by a federal grand jury for three crimes: Removing and concealing national defense information, giving NDI to those not legally entitled to possess it, and obstruction of justice by failing to return NDI to those who are legally entitled to retrieve it.”
FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election found that the former President obstructed justice based on an old statute — classifying it as a “material interference,” versus the newer regulation signed in 2002 by then-President President W. Bush.
But the Bush-era statute, the one the feds contemplate charging Trump with having violated, makes it a crime of obstruction by failing to return government property or, in Trump’s case, by sending the FBI on a wild goose chase looking for something that he knew belonged to the government. This statute does not require the preexistence of a judicial proceeding. It only requires that the defendant has the government’s property, knows that he has it, and baselessly resists efforts by the government to get it back.
Almost immediately after federal agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago, Trump was on social media spinning a web of lies that included being framed and declassifying the documents before it was even revealed why the feds were there. Something Napolitano calls a “mortal sin,” by “denying something for which he had not been accused.”
” What will Trump say is his defense to taking national defense information? I cannot think of a legally viable one.“—Andrew Napolitano
The laws and protocols involving handling classified and top-secret documents are explicit. Even if declassified, national defense information (NDI), must be held at a federal facility making the classification of the materials a non-issue.
Fifteen boxes were returned in January, and what was found alarmed those charged with protecting the nation’s secrets and guarding national security.
Though no longer at Fox, Judge Napolitano’s legal assessment is damning nonetheless—another sign that former allies are finding it increasingly difficult to defend, protect, and excuse the former President’s actions during, and after his presidency. In the words of the legal analyst, Trump “has little ground upon which to stand.”
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