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Tipsheet

Donald Trump Has 'Zero' Worries About Classified Documents Case, But Should He?

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Monday night brought us the first part of the Fox News interview between Bret Baier and former and potentially future President Donald Trump, where the leading candidate in the Republican presidential primary discussed the most recent indictment against him in his first interview since last week's arraignment. As it turns out, though, Trump may have discussed a bit too much, and just by the very nature of giving the interview.

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In a part of the interview getting significant attention, Trump discussed with Baier the nature of the documents. In addition to seeking to turn the conversation to President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents, Trump discussed how he has been "been very, very busy" and was not ready to hand over the boxes yet. 

Over at our sister site of HotAir, Managing Editor Ed Morrisey lays out quite the concerns about what this means for Trump's defense, with original emphasis:

The first rule of Federal Indictment Club is: you don’t talk about your case. And the second rule of Federal Indictment Club is: you don’t talk about your case, periodYou hire a good lawyer or two and let them talk about your case in public. The surest way to help the prosecution is to go on television and make a damaging admission about the key element of a charge.

You think Jack Smith and his attorneys are busy transcribing the whole interview at the moment? You’d better believe they are, and for good reason. Trump just made it almost impossible for a jury to believe any denial on these allegations, and his justification here would be damning in court. By talking publicly, Trump likely ruined a potential defense strategy for his attorneys, and now they will have to work around Trump’s public statement on national TV when this case comes to trial.

Bear in mind too that criminal defendants don’t have to testify in court. Trump could have refused to expose himself to cross-examination at trial and make Smith and his team prove obstruction on their own beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, Trump put himself on national TV and let Bret Baier cross-examine him, in a way that prosecutors can use whether Trump agrees to testify or not. And Trump botched the exchange and ended up making a potentially fatal admission, not because of a skilled attorney, but because a journalist simply read the elements of the indictment to him.

Now Smith and his team can play this to a jury, and Trump can’t stop it. Public admissions are admissible in court whether or not defendants choose to testify, and probably carry even more weight when they’re on videotape. (Even private admissions are admissible if direct witnesses to the admission are willing to testify to them.) Trump will almost certainly have to testify now to explain this away — and everyone can imagine how Trump will hold up under prosecutorial cross-examination.

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Law professor Jonathan Turley chimed in over Twitter about the interview, including as it pertains to what his legal defense now will be.

Fox News analyst Brit Hume, The Hill highlighted, expressed concern that Trump's "answers on the matter of the law seem to verge on incoherent." He also noted that Trump "seemed to be saying the documents were really his and he didn’t give them back when he was requested to do so, and when they were subpoenaed because he wasn’t ready to because he hadn’t sorted them or whatever from his golf shirts." 

Hume appeared to have chosen his words carefully when it says he "seemed," to be saying as much, since the analyst also added "it was not altogether clear what he was saying, but he seemed to believe that the documents were his, that he had declassified them and therefore he could do whatever he wanted with them."

For all of the concerns, Trump did emphasize to Baier that he has "zero" worries about the case. When asked by Baier "you are not worried about this case," Trump offered "based on the law? Zero. Zero." He pointed to the Presidential Records Act as his defense, a defense he's used before, to some pushback though, as Baier brought up.

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In response to Baier bringing up how others "push back," Trump pointed to a narrative that does have weight to it, with regards to "a weaponization of politics," and "a weaponization of the White House," which Trump called "a horrible thing," as he emphasized how he is leading in the polls. "A candidate that’s leading. I’m leading Biden by a lot. They go out and they weaponize. There is a horrible thing that was done."

To Trump's point about being targeted as a leading candidate, a poll conducted last week by Harvard CAPS/Harris found that 55 percent of respondents believe the Trump indictment is "politically motivated," and 56 percent believe the indictment is "interference by the Department of Justice in the 2024 elections."

Trump is not only indeed leading in the polls for the Republican primary, according to RealClearPolitics (RCP), but he also currently has a lead of +2.4 against Biden. 

"Bret Baier" has been trending on Twitter in response to the interview. Baier posted a preview of the second part of the interview, which will air the following night.

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