Even his supporters are aghast. “Every time he opens his mouth he increases his chances of going to prison,” Harvard law professor and legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, who has defended Trump on occasions said in one interview.
So what is it in the Justice Department’s 49-page indictment that has caused a clattering of jaws even among some of his supporters?
In one instance cited in the indictment, Trump undermines his own claim that he had declassified the secret documents he had taken from the White House that he says is a plan from General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to attack Iran. “See, as president I could have declassified it,” he says, brandishing the documents amid laughter from aides. “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still secret.”
In another, he shows a secret map to a political operative and says “that he should not be showing the map … and to not get close.” Elsewhere, he tells his attorney, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”
All this, accompanied by photographic evidence that show boxes of classified documents scattered across his bathroom and the ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago residence, has, in the eyes of many analysts, put Trump in deep trouble.
In a short and clinical briefing, prosecutor John Smith, while maintaining Trump is innocent till proven guilty beyond doubt, laid out a strong case against the former President, saying the mishandling of classified information had endangered US security and the lives of service members and intelligence officers.
Members of the military and the intelligence community “dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people,” he said, calling defense information laws “critical to the safety and the security of the United States,” and adding “Violations of those laws put our country at risk.’
Pushing back against Trump’s frequent argument that a President, current or former, is inviolable and should not be subject to criminal charges, Smith maintained, “Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice. Our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world. We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”
Trump’s response? Smith is a “deranged psycho” and a “Trump hater.”
The former President is scheduled to address state Republican conventions on Saturday in Georgia and North Carolina, where he is expected to escalate the attacks. He has also encouraged supporters to assemble on Tuesday in Miami, where he is scheduled to appear in court.
“SEE YOU IN MIAMI ON TUESDAY!!!” he posted late Friday on his Truth Social platform, in an ominous reminder of his message on December 19, 2020, when he tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”