You’ve seen them for days now, but when you look again, the images are still breathtaking: boxes and boxes of documents strewn about Donald Trump’s house – stacked in the bathroom, in the ballroom and spilling onto the ground.
They are also evidence in last week’s sweeping indictment against the former president.
Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 37-count indictment alleged the boxes contained sensitive and classified documents knowingly and voluntarily retained by Trump.
On Friday, Smith said: “We have a set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone. … Our laws that protect national defense information are essential to the safety and security of the United States. United, and they must be applied.”
We’ve never seen this before: A former president charged with conspiring to obstruct an investigation, and even violating the Espionage Act, with possible jail time listed at the end of the indictment of 49 pages.
Read the full indictment:
Trump, as always, was defiant last night. Appearing in North Carolina, he said: “You watch Joe Biden try to jail his main political opponent. Think about it: it’s like third world country stuff.”
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley considers the moment historic. “It’s breathtaking. The fact is that Trump knew he had secret documents and he was showing them willy-nilly to people.”
But will Americans care about it the same way they did about another scandal 50 years ago this summer?
Costa asked, “During, the whole country seemed fascinated by the audiences at the Capitol. But we now live in busier times, where people live their lives on social media. Do you believe that what is happening now with this indictment will remain in the American consciousness?
“There was so much trauma with Donald Trump,” Brinkley replied. “It’s not the CBS, NBC and ABC of the old days anymore, where everyone has to watch the Watergate hearings. We’re divided. People choose what kind of information or misinformation they want. And so, it Seems to me we’ve been in some sort of neo-civil war between what you might call the federal establishment and the Trump insurgency.”
In the end, President Nixon, of course, resigned. But Trump is racing to retake the White House. And while at least one of his Republican opponents, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has called for him to quit the race because of the indictment, many other Republicans are rallying around him. .
Trump’s main rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, compared Trump’s case to that of Hillary Clinton and her email server. “Is there a different standard for a Democratic Secretary of State compared to a former Republican President?” He asked.
At the time, the FBI investigated Clinton but concluded, according to FBI Director James Comey, that there was insufficient evidence to establish that Clinton knew she was sending classified information.
If a federal indictment doesn’t keep Republicans away from Trump, what would? Stuart Stevens, a veteran presidential campaign strategist who worked for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012 and has since become a Trump critic, said: “Good question. I don’t think much. I think Trump will be the candidate.”
Costa asked, “Is it possible for any Trump rival to get political oxygen in the months ahead?”
“I think the way you would get political oxygen would be to attack Donald Trump,” Stevens said. “This race is about Donald Trump. You’re not going to be successful trying to be a pale imitation of Donald Trump.”
Wasting no time after the indictment was unsealed, Trump posted appeals for donations on his “Truth Social” website.
According to Stevens, “Donald Trump is going to rake in a lot of money being indicted. You know, he might lose some of his high-end Super PAC donors who don’t want to be associated with the guy who has multiple indictments. .in multiple states! But his little donor fundraiser is going to go crazy.”
President Biden has remained largely silent on the indictment and on Trump, who has been on the road, and on the golf course.
Trump is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Miami on Tuesday.
Costa asked Brinkley, “What does all this mean for America?”
“The good news right now is that our system works,” Brinkley replied, “that no one is above the law, except Donald Trump, once he loses power in the White House. , is simply an American citizen, and he must face the legal system as any taxpaying citizen does.”
For more information:
Presidential Historian Douglas BrinkleyStuart Stevens, Senior Advisor, The Lincoln Project
Story produced by Alan Golds. Publisher: Ed Givnish.
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