Trump faces difficult odds in classified-documents case


June – Donald Trump faces a formidable task defending against charges that he illegally kept top-secret documents upon leaving the White House in 2021, according to legal experts, who said neither the law nor the facts appear to be on his side.
The former U.S. president, who is a candidate to run again in the 2024 election, was charged in an indictment unsealed in Florida federal court on Friday. The 37 counts against him include violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice conspiracy and false statements.
National security law experts were struck by the breadth of evidence in the indictment which includes documents, photos, text messages, audio and witness statements. They said this made a strong case for prosecutors’ allegation that Trump illegally took the documents and then tried to cover it up.
“The details are pretty shocking in terms of the carelessness with which these documents were handled, and the concerted effort to keep them out of the hands of the FBI,” said Elizabeth Goitein, a national security law expert at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump has proclaimed his innocence and called the case a “witch hunt” orchestrated by political enemies.
“There was no crime, except for what the DOJ and FBI have been doing against me for years,” he wrote on his Truth Social platform on Friday.
Trump’s greatest peril could lie in the conspiracy to obstruct justice charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Legal experts said the evidence appears to show that Trump was aware he had documents in his possession that were subject to a subpoena but refused to turn them over and encouraged his lawyers to mislead the FBI.