Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the release of the heavily redacted affidavit that led to the unprecedented Mar-a-Lago raid that has captivated the Fourth Estate and the American public. With more than half of the content being blacked out by the DOJ, exact details remain unclear. But based on what was made publicly available on August 26, it seems that the media is happy to run with spin over substance.
Liberty Nation spoke with Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza to dig deep into what the affidavit actually says rather than what the nation’s press prefers to speculate.
Facts From Fiction
Mark Angelides: Scott, I notice that the left-leaning media is a little more subdued in its coverage than in recent days. Is this because the affidavit was so redacted and, therefore, revealed no new details? Or is it because it doesn’t appear to be the immediately apparent smoking gun some journalists anticipated?
Scott D. Cosenza: I’m sorry, I can’t remember who said it first, but some clever conservative said the right way to think about establishment media types is to consider them “Democrat operatives with bylines.” Viewing the coverage through that lens has served me well and seems to explain well what stories are pumped up and which are smothered.
MA: Wasn’t Trump already cooperating in handing over documents before the actual raid?
SDC: The relationship between Trump and the DOJ was not amicable before the search. I think Team MAGA gave the impression everything was just hunky-dory immediately prior to the execution of the search warrant. That most certainly is not true. One of the items included with the affidavit is a letter from Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran to the DOJ lawyer handling things in DC and the US Attorney in Florida. The letter discusses potential criminal investigations of Trump and argues intensely against their prudence and legality.
Mr. Corcoran structured the letter as a mini-brief against criminal action regarding the documents. He requested the DOJ submit it to any court request to rule on “any motion pertaining to this investigation, or on any application made in connection with any investigative request concerning this investigation.” The relationship between Trump and the DOJ was in shreds by the letter’s transmission on May 25, if not before.
MA: So, this wasn’t a complete nothingburger; I notice in the document that the DOJ alleges probable cause to find that evidence of obstruction of justice will be found during the Mar-a-Lago raid. What does this mean?
SDC: Mark, if only the document weren’t so heavily redacted, I could give you the answer. My best guess is that the obstruction charge might attach to people who asserted certain documents, or classes of documents, such as classified ones, were all returned to the Archives. That might include Donald Trump, but perhaps it would not.
MA: I think a notable part of the affidavit is that it focuses quite a bit on the idea that the records in Trump possession were not suitably stored – or initially weren’t. Could this cause a problem for the former president? Even if he decided they were declassified?
SDC: When laws are applied in novel ways, never contemplated by their authors, it’s so hard to predict anything with alacrity. Could it? I would have to say yes. There seems to be an engagement of all the levers of government in the service of hurting Donald Trump, which is no place you want to be.
Mar-a-Lago Raid Timeline
MA: Help me out with the timeline here if you can. President Trump sends documents to the National Archives; the Archives tells the DOJ he likely has more; the DOJ visits Mar-a-Lago with Trump’s permission, looks at his records, and asks him to put a lock on the door where his papers are kept. And then apply for a search warrant to look at the documents they just saw? What am I missing?
SDC: As I read the document, it was less “Hey, how about you put a stronger lock on that door,” and more, “Lock up everything in that room and don’t touch it again unless we say.” They clearly state in the warrant application that they expect to find documents they claim Trump has no legal right to own.
MA: Where does the DOJ investigation go from here?
SDC: As we have seen repeatedly demonstrated in cities across the country, the decision to prosecute or not is a political one. For federal prosecutions, the buck stops with the president of the United States. Will he allow a criminal indictment of his once and likely future presidential rival? Only Joe Biden knows.