"There's so much evidence": Former Trump White House lawyer predicts he will "go to jail"

"I think this is a tight obstruction case," said attorney Ty Cobb

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published May 22, 2023 11:31AM (EDT)

Donald Trump | Mar-a-Lago resort (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump | Mar-a-Lago resort (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

A former Trump attorney predicted that the former president will "go to jail" for mishandling classified documents.

Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer from 2017 to 2018, in an interview with CNN on Thursday, discussed the National Archive's recent decision to hand over 16 records to the Justice Department that show Trump knew he was not allowed to take documents to his residence. 

"I would not necessarily expand the case to try to prove the Espionage Act piece of it because there is so much evidence of guilty knowledge on the espionage piece that all they really have to do is show that Trump moved these documents at various times when DOJ was either demanding them or actually present, that he filed falsely with the Justice Department, had his lawyers file falsely with the Justice Department, an affidavit to the effect that none existed—which was shattered by the documents that they then discovered after the search—and the many other misrepresentations that he and others have made on his behalf with regard to his possession of classified documents," Cobb said.

"I think this is a tight obstruction case," Cobb added. "Yes, I do think he will go to jail on it." 

Former Attorney General Bill Barr also predicted that Trump could face legal peril in the Mar-a-Lago probe.

It's very clear that he had no business having those documents. He was given a long time to send them back. And they were subpoenaed. And I've said all along that he wouldn't get in trouble, probably, just for taking them, just as Biden I don't think is going to get in trouble or Pence is not going to get in trouble," Barr told CBS News.

"The problem," he continued, "is what did he do after the government asked for them back and subpoenaed them? And if there's any games being played there, he's going to be very exposed." 

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Trump has repeatedly argued that he could automatically declassify any documents, stating in a CNN town hall that "they become automatically declassified when I took them."

Barr said he doesn't "think that argument's gonna fly."

"I don't think the idea that you know, he automatically — that they were somehow automatically declassified when they were put in the boxes," he said. "I don't think that will fly." 

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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Clip Donald Trump Jack Smith Mar-a-lago Politics Ty Cobb