Experts: Report that Trump may have shown secret docs to donors ties him “directly to the scheme"

"That's what Jack Smith is looking at and looks like... that's going to be very devastating," expert says

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 4, 2023 11:48AM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Legal experts said new revelations about obstruction evidence collected by special counsel Jack Smith's team could land former President Donald Trump in deep legal trouble.

Smith's team has obtained evidence that Trump personally rummaged through boxes of secret government documents he took home to Mar-a-Lago and has been "asking witnesses if Trump showed classified documents, including maps, to political donors," The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal told MSNBC that the evidence could be "devastating" for Trump's defense.

"It ties Trump directly to the scheme," he said. "If it holds up and, of course, we don't know — and Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence and all that, but if that's what [special counsel] Jack Smith is looking at and looks like what he got, that's going to be very devastating."

Former senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok highlighted the focus on donors.

"If you're trying to figure out the 'why,' what's your theory of the case, why on Earth did he want to do it, if he's using this to convert it for fundraising and showing it to people who absolutely have no business seeing it and he's hiding it at the same time," he said. "That really starts to flesh out the story about, one, why this occurred and, two, how integral Trump was to this entire enterprise."

Trump claimed that he had the "right" to take home documents in a recent Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, who repeatedly tried to help the former president without success.

"I've known you for decades," Hannity said. "I can't imagine you ever saying, 'Bring me some of the boxes that we brought back from the White House. I'd like to look at them.' Did you ever do that?"

"I would have the right to do that," Trump responded. "There's nothing wrong with it."

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"But I know you," Hannity said. "I don't think you would do it."

"I don't have a lot of time, but I would have the right to do that," Trump retorted. "I would do that."

"Remember this," Trump added. "This is the Presidential Records Act. I have the right to take stuff."

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough mocked Trump's "confession" video on Tuesday.

"Sean was trying to help Trump time and again," Scarborough said, but Trump "goes on and proves the federal government's case."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Brief Donald Trump Jack Smith Mar-a-lago Politics