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Trump’s Blackmail Defense

Donald Trump’s attempt to stash away classified documents should concern all Americans and US allies, given the disregard that he showed for national security while in office. But prosecuting the offense could come with similar risks, depending on the nature of the secrets involved.

ATLANTA – Donald Trump and his Republican Party minions have presented a dog’s breakfast of explanations, evasions, accusations, and lies about the classified documents – including top-secret files – that federal agents reclaimed from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago basement this month. But ultimately, Trump’s best defense, if he is criminally charged, will be blackmail.

Authorized by Attorney General Merrick Garland, the unprecedented search of a former president’s home was based on a warrant, approved by a federal judge, that cited possible violations of the Espionage Act and other statutes. For months, the US Department of Justice had attempted to work with Trump’s team to collect all the documents, only to be met with lies. The warrant’s ample legal justification suggests that Trump is at risk of being indicted for endangering national security. That would come on top of an already lengthy list of other potential criminal and civil charges that could come out of various federal, state, and local investigations that are underway.

Given Trump’s deep ignorance of international affairs and contemptuous treatment of national-security agencies while in office, his attempt to stash away some of their most highly classified secrets raises obvious counterintelligence questions about his intentions. It confirms once again that Trump has nothing but disdain for the agencies’ integrity and the laws and rules that govern them. And it is a reminder that Trump would pose a direct threat to national security were he to win the presidency again in 2024.