A tantalizing detail in a new Trump legal filing

By | October 10, 2023

Aaron Blake writes:

Donald Trump’s many legal problems have led to a veritable fire hose of often-mundane, procedural court filings. But occasionally, there’s a nugget that catches your eye.

Such was the case Monday, in the government’s latest filing in Trump’s classified documents case.

While arguing against the motion by Trump’s lawyers to delay the May 20 trial, special counsel Jack Smith’s lawyers assured they’re ready to go and that such a delay isn’t necessary, unsurprisingly. But they also said they are ready to prove something significant that, to this point, has remained shrouded and the subject of much speculation: why Trump allegedly took and kept the documents.

“That the classified materials at issue in this case were taken from the White House and retained at Mar-a-Lago is not in dispute,” Smith’s office said.

It then added that “what is in dispute is how that occurred, why it occurred, what Trump knew, and what Trump intended in retaining them — all issues that the Government will prove at trial primarily with unclassified evidence.”

The government apparently thinks it knows “what Trump intended” with the documents. And it’s signaling that it plans to prove that intent.

This would seem important, not only from a general-interest standpoint but also from a legal one.

Smith’s team might not necessarily need to prove Trump’s intention or his motive in the case. You have documents, you fail to return them when the government comes calling and that’s a crime regardless of why you did it, the argument goes. Trump’s indictment in the case made no direct claims about a potential motive.

But that doesn’t mean proving Trump’s motive wouldn’t be helpful. Indeed, establishing a motive would seem to drive home the intention of Trump’s actions and combat any arguments that this was all a misunderstanding — or that Trump somehow didn’t know what he had (which the government has taken care to undermine). [Continue reading…]

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