Constitutionalist Lawrence Douglas replies: “The Espionage Act prohibits the possession of national security information without authorization”
1 What does Trump risk for classified documents requirements at Mar-a-Lago?
We answer with Lawrence Douglas, professor of law at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Trump is under investigation for violating three laws: Section 2071 “provides for three years in prison and possible disqualification from holding federal office”, but in reality whether or not it can prevent Trump’s new candidacy is “a matter of dispute among experts “; the Espionage Act of 1917 prohibits the unauthorized possession of national security information that can harm the US or help enemies (“10 years in prison; you must not intentionally possess such documents, negligence is enough”); Section 1519: 20 years in prison, for obstruction of investigation.
2 What are the other investigations?
There is a criminal investigation in Georgia into possible electoral interference, starting with Trump’s infamous phone call to Secretary of State Raffensperger, looking for more votes. Trump and his allies, such as Rudy Giuliani, are prosecuted for conspiracy and instigation to commit electoral fraud and intentional interference with elections. “However, intentionality must be proven, that is, they clearly knew they had not won.” Another criminal investigation, for tax fraud, opened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has instead been suspended by his successor Alvin Bragg. “But it is not impossible – explains Douglas – that new evidence will emerge”. The civil investigation into tax fraud by Manhattan Attorney General Letitia James accuses the Trump Organization of inflating the value of real estate to obtain loans and advantageous policies from banks and insurance companies. The company, if guilty, should pay a financial penalty to the state. The commission that conducts the hearings in Congress on the assault on the Capitol on January 6, does not have the power to indict Trump but can ask the Minister of Justice Merrick Garland, who has not moved so far. The Justice Department has its own parallel investigation not limited to the events of January 6, but which covers the entire attempt to overturn the elections.
3 To what extent is the Attorney General (Minister of Justice and Attorney General) independent of the President?
“Technically, the Justice Department is part of the executive, the president appoints the Attorney General. On the other hand, the Attorney General is the highest official responsible for law enforcement and as such his responsibility is not to the president but is to enforce federal laws and the Constitution. Interestingly, in Trump’s case, the threat of mass resignation in the Justice Department ultimately thwarted his attempt to install Jeffrey Clark as its head. Independence has to do with norms and institutional culture rather than with a clear-cut normative division between the president and the Attorney General’s office ”.
4 If Trump runs for president, can’t he be indicted?
No. The Justice Department does not expect an incumbent president to be indicted, but the same does not apply to a candidate. “It would be interesting to see what happens if Trump declares his candidacy for 2024 and gets indicted. He could paradoxically win the elections and be condemned – observes Douglas – Crazy hypotheses, but we must contemplate them because of the scenarios that Trump makes us conceive ».
August 16, 2022 (change August 16, 2022 | 23:22)
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