Indictment as Tactical strike (Empty Wheel)
Interesting read - with the suggestion (addressing many queries and concerns voiced here on DU) that the intelligence community has in fact already burned (closed, shut down) assets and programs based on the 'exposure' that the Trump documents represent. And that is one of the few explanations for the 'massive exposure' (unlike common practice) that the indictment represents to security information. (remembering that the government doesn't like to bring this stuff into the courtroom - and there was some 'crazy sensitive' stuff included in that indictment!)
As Ive laid out, it charges 31 counts of Espionage Act violations, each carrying a 10-year sentence and most sure to get enhancements for how sensitive the stolen documents are, as well as seven obstruction-related charges, four of which carry 20-year sentences. The obstruction-related charges would group at sentencing (meaning theyd really carry 20 year sentence total), but Espionage Act charges often dont and could draw consecutive sentences: meaning Trump could be facing a max sentence of 330 years.
Obviously, Trump wont serve a 330 year sentence, not least because Trump is mortal, already 76, and has eaten far too many burgers in his life.
(per Jack Smith's public statement, June 9 )
- snip - He packed a lot in fewer than three minutes, but the thing that surprised me was his promise for a Speedy Trial. He effectively said he wants to try this case, charging 31 counts of the Espionage Act, within 70 days. (bolding mine)
That means the trial would start around August 20, and last per one of the filings in the docket 21 days, through mid-September. While all the other GOP candidates were on a debate stage, Trump would be in South Florida, watching as his closest aides described how he venally refused to give boxes and boxes of the nations secrets back.
Theres not a chance in hell that will happen, certainly not for Trump. Even if Trump already had at least three cleared attorneys with experience defending Espionage Act cases, that wouldnt happen, because the CIPA process for this case, the fight over what classified evidence would be available and how it would be presented at trial, would last at least six months. And as of yesterday, he has just one lawyer on this case, Todd Blanche, who is also defending Trump in the New York State case.
In fact, even though I understand how CIPA works, Im not convinced this case can be tried. Before the indictment was unsealed, I imagined that Smith would charge about six documents, classified Secret, each of which demonstrated that Trump was exploiting the nations secrets, and just nod to the sensitivity of all the more sensitive secrets he was storing in an unlocked bathroom. Boy howdy was I wrong! Peter Strzok does the math to show that DOJ actually charged all but 13 of the Top Secret documents obtained either with the May 11, 2022 subpoena or in the August 8, 2022 search. And these are not just Top Secret. Of those documents whose compartments themselves are not classified, the documents include satellite intelligence, human intelligence, nuclear intelligence. Brandon Van Grack, one of the few other people who has been interested in the CIPA aspect of this case, seemed to struggle to describe the documents charged in this case.
One of the only ways I can imagine taking this to trial easily would be if the government had simply burned all the collection involved (including on the two Five Eyes documents), meaning presenting the documents he stole at trial would consist of one after another spook describing collection programs the government had to shut down because of Trump. In fact, last September, DOJ suggested they had had to do just that by invoking a letter NSA Director Mike Rogers sent in sentencing Nghia Pho. That letter described how, after discovering that Pho had compromised a bunch of NSA programs, the NSA had had to abandon much of it.
(NSA directors statement) - Once the government loses positive control over classified material, the government must often treat the material as compromised and take remedial actions as dictated by the particular circumstances. Depending on the type and volume of compromised classified material, such reactions can be costly, time consuming and cause a shift in or abandonment of programs. In this case, the fact that such a tremendous volume of highly classified, sophisticated collection tools was removed from secure space and left unprotected, especially in digital form on devices connected to the Internet, left the NSA with no choice but to abandon certain important initiatives, at great economic and operational cost.
For the moment, then, consider the possibility that this indictment is, as far as it involves Trump, simply a messaging document to alert Republicans who can still be reasoned with that Trump left the most sensitive secrets on a stage at Mar-a-Lago while weddings were going on and as a result, the IC simply shut down all the programs he had compromised.
Marcy posted a follow up to this post this morning- it digs deeper and compares Trumps case to similar CIPA espionage cases.
(CIPA is the law regulating how classified documents can be used in trials)