Tribe: The Criminal Case Against Trump is Another “Slam Dunk”

In past columns, we have discussed the litany of “slam dunk” crimes that Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has declared as established against former President Donald Trump, none of which have been actually charged. Indeed, Tribe appears intent upon running through the entire criminal code. Just for the purposes of keeping score, Tribe declared evidence supporting criminal charges of witness tamperingobstruction of justice, criminal election violations, Logan Act violations, extortion, espionage, attempted murder, and treason by Trump or his family.  This week, Tribe insisted on MSNBC that Trump yet again is facing a “slam dunk” criminal conviction over the raid on Mar-a-Lago. While some of us have suggested that we wait to see the actual evidence before evaluating the risk in the case, Tribe again is confident that the still uncharged case has already been made.

Just last month, Tribe declared Trump clearly guilty of the attempted murder of Vice President Mike Pence on January 6, 2021. Tribe again insisted that the case could be prosecuted “without any doubt, beyond a reasonable doubt, beyond any doubt, and the crimes are obvious.” I guess there is no doubt. There is also no compelling legal basis for the claim. Nevertheless, Tribe promised more if needed: “There are other crimes that have been proven. Those are plenty to start with.”

It is a curious thing that none of these prior “proven” crimes have been charged. After the riot, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine announced that he was considering arresting Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and charging them with incitement. So what happened to that prosecution? The failure of Racine to charge Trump was not due to any affection or loyalty to the former president. It was due to the paucity of direct evidence of a crime that would hold up in court.

Now, without an indictment or the public disclosure of actual evidence beyond the inventory list, Tribe sees no reason to wait for proof. The evidence is, again, a “slam dunk” for conviction.

While the three criminal provisions cited in the warrant do not require that the documents be classified, the declassification of the documents could make the case more difficult and could raise difficult issues of a president’s inherent declassification authority. As I have previously discussed, we have not seen what Trump refers to as a “standing order” of declassification. However, to the extent that declassification relates to Trump’s intent in possessing these documents, a court could have to grapple with some novel constitutional questions. While a former president loses such inherent authority, Trump is claiming that he declassified the material when he was still president. Tribe dismisses such claims but, again, we have yet to see the alleged order or the specific claims made in past exchanges between the former president and the Justice Department.

Notably, at the start of the interview, Tribe argues against the release of any of the affidavit. While many of us thought the court would likely defer to the Justice Department, it was also clear (in my opinion) that portions could be released. Anyone familiar with these affidavits knows that there are portions that can be released, including sections with information that are already known to the target. We are interested in not only what was presented to the court but how it was presented given the history of the Department in making false or misleading statements in past Trump-related investigations.

Notably, Tribe also insisted that any release would “violate important rules on grand jury secrecy.” The problem is that we have not heard of any grand jury on the Mar-a-Lago matter. This was a warrant sought from the court based on probable cause of possible criminal offenses. There also has been no suggestion that the warrant incorporated material from other grand juries like the ongoing January 6th grand jury. Ironically, if Tribe has been given such information from sources, it would likely be a Rule 6(e) violation. Moreover, if this warrant is an attempt to acquire evidence for a separate investigation, it would contradict the public statements of the Justice Department that this was prompted to protect national defense information.

Tribe added that ” this man  . . . I was going to call him ‘traitor’ but that is not quite right it is not treason.” Actually, Tribe previously suggested that Trump was a traitor and could be charged with treason.

Tribe has, of course, never lacked confidence that his lengthening list of crimes have been proven “without any doubt, beyond a reasonable doubt, beyond any doubt.” He is not alone in such hair-triggered analysis. It has been the signature of much of the legal analysis in the last six years. Yet, it would be useful. . .  just once . . . if only for appearances . . . to start with the release of actual evidence before discussing slam dunk convictions.

192 thoughts on “Tribe: The Criminal Case Against Trump is Another “Slam Dunk””

  1. Tribe uses the phrase “slam dunk” because, like the “slam-dunking” NBA, global pro sports, U.S. elections and the U.S. system of [in]justice are all “fixed.”

    “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil”

    – U.S. Judicial Branch

    “Up to 80 countries a year hit by soccer match-fixing: Interpol” – September 10, 2014

    “MANCHESTER England (Reuters) – Between 60 and 80 countries have reported allegations of match-fixing for each of the last three years, the head of the Interpol-FIFA initiative set up to fight the crime said on Wednesday.”

    “John Abbott, who is also leading Interpol’s and FIFA’s fight against irregular betting, told delegates at the Soccerex Global Convention that far tougher legislation is needed worldwide to fight the crime.

    “It is a global problem and it is showing no signs of abating.”

    – Reuters

  2. Turley STILL ignores the significant factual chronology here in carrying out his Fox News duty to trash anyone criticizing Trump, especially the bombshell witness reports that he said, according to multiple witnesses: “they’re mine, not theirs”. Trump was represented by VERY competent counsel at the time. I’m certain that Cipollini and Philbin advised him that the documents were NOT his property. The chronology is: Trump steals TS/SCI documents and stashes them in Florida. He is asked to return them to the NARA, and returns only a few. So, a subpoena is sent. 15 boxes are turned over, along with an affidavit declaring that everything TS/SCI was returned. A tipster informs the FBI there are still more, requiring Garland to do one of 2 things: 1. let Trump keep TS/SCI documents, possession of which is illegal, and which he likely would display to show off or possibly sell; or 2. seek a search warrant to force them to be returned. Garland did not make a snap decision. He consulted with his staff multiple times over the course of several weeks, but at the end of the day, concluded that his promise that “no one is above the law” compelled him to force them to be turned over, knowing the right-wing firestorm this would cause. So, he did the right thing. The validity of the Affidavit that supported the search warrant is borne out by the fruits it produced: 20 or so more boxes of TS/SCI documents. There have been reports that there are still more of them better hidden away in other locations on the property.

    Turley doesn’t address Trump’s claim that he owns the documents and the implications of this bearing on his refusal to voluntarily return the document and his lawyer lying about them all being returned. Also, there are federal regulations that say that a president cannot unilaterally declassify TS/SCI documents, especially those involving national defense. Turley admits that there is NO proof to back up Trump’s claim of declassification, John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, knows of no such order, and Turley has admitted that declassification (if it happened, which is doubtful) is irrelevant to whether Trump can be prosecuted for taking the documents and refusing to return them. He can be prosecuted not only for this but for his lawyer lying about all of them having been returned pursuant to the search warrant. It’s called “obstruction of justice” and Professor Tribe is correct: there’s a solid case here. Turley ignores the clear obstruction of justice the factual narrative above proves beyond any doubt: Trump was NEVER going to turn over these documents voluntarily, his lawyer lied about them all having been returned, and Trump is STILL lying and not only that, is leveraging this incident for financial gain: stirring the disciples up over the “outrageousness” of his “beautiful home” being “raided” by the FBI. He’s pocketed $1 million of the gullibles’ money so far. He falsely accused Biden of being behind the raid for political reasons, and thinks that his silly little lie about a “standing order” to “declassify” the TS/SCI documents will save him. Trump’s culpability doesn’t turn on the classification status of the papers. As to Biden, Garland issued a “standing order” that no one outside the DOJ, including the Biden administration, is to be briefed on active investigations, absent some strong national security reason to inform the Administration.

    We can only hope Trump hasn’t already compromised our national security by negligent handling of these papers and/or displaying them to show off and/or selling them. But, the overarching issue is Trump stirring up the faithful with lies and criminal conduct. The Big Lie resulted in an unprecedented attack on our Capitol resulting in 5 people dead, and this smaller lie has resulted in death threats to FBI agents, and also the IRS, based on the false rhetoric put out by Turley’s employer and other alt-right media, claiming that the Biden Administration is going to send IRS agents armed with AR-15s to middle class citizens’ homes and small businesses. One of Trump’s supporters is also dead after trying to break into the Cincinnati FBI field office.. Trump issued a statement to Garland essentially implying that if he didn’t stop investigating him and taking testimony from witnesses that implicated him, he was going to keep stirring up the fans.

    So, this is what it’s come to now–a malignant narcissist with an army of gullible people who believe whatever lies he tells, stirring up the faithful to disbelieve the DOJ and FBI, and to attack them as enemies of the people when they try to bring him to justice over the crime of stealing classified documents? WHY can’t the gullibles see this for what it really is? Do you really want Trump to have classified documents disclosing our most-sensitive national secrets? WHY aren’t you outraged that the stole them in the first place, has the delusional belief that they are his property, that his lawyer lied about returning them, and that he’s using this incident to raise money?

    1. One would think Turley would recalibrate his protection of Benedict Donald, but yet Turley drives deeper into the bile of the cult45.

      1. So, your response is name calling. This is an Ad Hominem attack a logical fallacy indicating you have no rational, fact based argument.

        1. RE:”So, your response is name calling…” Usual and customary procedure for some of this lot. Well constructed argument is not their forte. ”Be like Teflon”

    2. Given that Judge Jasckson’s 2012 oppinion clearly establishes that “their mine, not theirs” is correct – why is it you would say ciplione etc would have told Trump otherwise. ?

        1. HE was when he took them. He also has an ABSOLUTE POWER to declassify documents. What we have is the same team who did the Russian Hoax investigation and lied to FISA courts about the STEELE document trying to recover the documents that implicate them in an attempted coup against a sitting president, one Donald Trump. That should terrify you. IF THE FBI will DO IT FOR YOU, they will do it TO YOU.

          1. You don’t know when he took them, and Presidents are legally obliged to turn their presidential records over to NARA by the end of their administration.

    3. The FBI team that did crossfire hurricane carried out the raid. The documents included the texts between Strzok and Page. The documents they seemed most interested were Crossfile Hurricane. That makes this whole thing rather corrupt. There is an old saying concerning relationships: if he cheats on her, he’ll cheat on you. The FBI is violating their oath for the purpose of the Democrats. That loyalty can be twisted against the left. Do YOU REALLY WANT that?

  3. The good professor reminding us that Tribe has failed to get a conviction of the former president is not a bad thing. I do have to wonder why Tribe continues to get such good ink (or in this case, electrons) from Turley and others for simply being consistently wrong more often than not when it pertains to Trump. At what point does Tribe’s lack of credibility take real affect? It’s one thing to support your friends and colleagues even when you disagree. It’s another to continue (effectively) propping up their growing misstating wishes and hopes compared with law, procedure and policy – AG Garland being another recent example.

  4. Jonathan: Everyone was surprised that Judge Reinhart wants to unseal a redacted version of the Affidavit. But it appears he felt the unprecedented nature of the case and heightened public interest dictated more transparency. But this is not necessarily good news for Trump and why he did not appear in court. I would be surprised if Reinhart did not agree to redact the names of key witnesses. After Trump’s attempt to intimidate witnesses in the J.6 hearings I doubt the judge would want to expose witnesses in this case to similar intimidation–especially because he himself has been subject to anti-semitic threats from Trump supporters.

    Maggie Haberman had an interesting column in the NY Times yesterday: “Why did he [Trump] resist returning the Government Documents?” Haberman attributes this to Trump’s tendency to hoard everything because “They’re mine!”. She compares Trump to Louis XIV who declared “Letat c’est moi” (I am the state). So anything Trump did had to be legal. That’s a given because Trump always believed he was above the law. But this doesn’t explain why Trump would want to keep top secret national security documents. I think being a “hoarder” of even the flattering trivial ignores what I consider Trump’s more sinister motives. President Trump saw an opportunity to monetize everything that came across his desk in the Oval Office. Top secret national security documents were the “pot of gold”. Trump thought holding onto this material would allow him to use them in future business opportunities or would give him a political advantage should he decide to run again in 2024. Who really knows but one thing we do know about Donald Trump. We can’t attribute innocent motives to anything Trump does.

    While no criminal case is a “slam dunk” that’s not the case involving Trump’s CFO Allen Wisselberg who just pleaded guilty to 15 criminal counts of tax evasion–a significant case you have chosen to ignore. It was a slam dunk case because Weisselberg was meticulous in keeping two sets of books that allowed him to hide $940,000 in compensation. It was a particularly egregious grift. I doubt Trump did not know about this attempt to evade taxes. The problem is how to prove Trump knew about Weisselberg’s cozy arrangement. That’s where “slam dunk” comes in. Trump will naturally claim Weisselberg acted alone in his criminal scheme–un-abetted by Trump or any other member of the family. I doubt anyone believes this but there’s the problem. The only “slam duck” part of this case is that it proves that there is “no honor among thieves”!

  5. Tribe is apparently a plagiarist of the worst sort, an academic plagiarist with supposed standards, not an ordinary plagiarist one might find in a journalist rag like the New York Times.

    Nothing Tribe says should be given any regard whatsoever.

    I do have one of his constitutional law books and it is well done. I commend whoever wrote it.

  6. There has been commentary likening the United States to a third world country. Some third world Marxist countries are well rehearsed in police state forces raiding residences in the name of “saving the country”. The wording is no coincidence

    Nicaraguan regime arrests bishop in overnight raid
    The police statement accused the bishop of “organizing violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the people,” with the intention of “destabilizing the State.”

  7. And this is why my brother barely speaks to me anymore, even though fundamentally neither of us have changed, literally, at all. Remove the political rhetoric and we are basically saying the same things, it’s just that he is prejudiced and I am not. He listens to NPR exclusively, and simply refers to it as, ‘the news’, and had been watching the J6 hearings like they are sermons. TDS broke people’s brains, and I sure hope somebody studies it someday, because it has been a legitimate case of mass-psychosis.

      1. Anomaly,

        James speaks of people with TDS broken brains and, as if on cue, here you are. The word “prejudiced” can be used in several different contexts, only one of which is racial/cultural.

        It is apparent to most that James is explaining that his brother has developed preconceived judgments or opinions (is prejudiced) against conservatives to the point where they no longer speak.

        However, understanding this is obviously way over your head.

    1. James,
      I used to, past tense, listen to NPR. From early morning till Market Place signed off in the afternoon, all day. Sometimes even out in the fields.
      Then 2016 happened and they went all panel-o-pundits reporting. It was amazing the level of mental gymnastics they went to to link anything bad to Trump. Like biological male competing in women’s gymnastics level of amazing.
      Matt Taibbi wrote an article about how NPR is nothing but about race and gender now. They even had an article of how exercise and diet was racist.
      At first, I thought TDS was just a joke. Reading some of the comments here, it has definitely become a legitimate mental illness.

      1. It is embarrassing to see some of my favorite pundits fall to TDS.
        Most recent is Sam Harris, who has tossed out all sense of relative morality and due process; he actually said it made no difference that the media and tech covered up Hunter Biden’s laptop (and its implications to Joe Biden), as long as it got rid of Trump that is all that mattered.

        1. RE:”as long as it got rid of Trump that is all that mattered…” That was the criteria upon which votes were cast in both 2016 and 2020. The best of the two ‘worsts’ in each contest, notwithstanding what each brought to the table. Congressional districts have been redrawn in Florida..Our options for Congress include candidates for one party, none of whom have ever had any legislative experience,or present an impressive curriculum vitae. One can only be guided by platform. Platforms can simply be vote pleasers to get in the door. For the other party, only one has held an significant state govt post. The others have no legislative experience.

        2. “Most recent is Sam Harris . . .”

          Although it was refreshing to see a Leftist admit openly that their ends (get Trump) justifies their means (lying, deceit, media whoring, election manipulation).

      2. Upstate Farmer, I also used to listen to NPR often. Then in 2016 and thereafter, they went to the dark side. I made a guess how many seconds it would be before they mentioned Trump. I would turn it on and less than 30 seconds, often sooner, the announcer was at it..Trump…Trump…Trump… CLICK…I switched stations. I have not looked back. It is sad, really. They were once a great broadcast but they lost my confidence.

        1. RE:”. They were once a great broadcast but they lost my confidence…Ditto to your entire comment!

  8. I am convinced that Laurence Tribe is the basis for the Chuck character in “Better call Saul.” More than one brick short of a load. Just like in “Better call Saul.” The Democrats applaud when Laurence (Chuck) descends the staircase. They knew that Chuck had a screw loose but they adored him anyway. Someone should tell him to turn the electricity on.

    1. Lawrence Tribe was once a compelling constitutional scholar.
      Eastman’s purportedly criminal constitutional advice to Trump regarding congresses election certification was based on constitutional and legal arguments made by Tribe in the past.

      Today he beclown’s himself.

    1. I am sure the documents the FBI is after is all the proof of FBI, State Dept, IC, FBI, and FISA judges knowing involvement spying on his campaign.
      The President has unlimited power to declassify and store any document he wishes.

      There’s case law on this.

      1. Trump isn’t President. Former presidents do not have unlimited power to declassify and store any document they wish.

          1. RE:”Trump released the affidavit declassifying all the Crossfire Hurricane sham. That’s what the FBI is looking for…….and you have incontrovertible evidence from a yet to be revealed, reliable source to that effect or are we being treated to just another supposition on your part?

          2. Some of what the search included was “national defense information,” per the warrant cover sheet.

            Try again.

    2. Gulliani has done better than Tribe.

      I would note that nearly all the politically biased charges against Guilliani have failed, and those left are failing.

      He has been correct about myriads of things – he was one of the early people pointing out the Biden family corruption.
      He was early in noting that collusion delusion was a fraud.

      Gulliani will die with his reputation mostly intact.
      Tribe will not.

      1. Giuliani’s law license has been suspended for lying to the courts. That you consider that doing better than Tribe is telling, and not in a good way.

        1. There is not a consequential lawyer worth his salt that has not had their law license suspended.

          F. Lee Bailey comes to mind immediately.

          The bar has ALWAYS been highly political, more recently it is highly woke.

          And you left wing nuts still abuse the meaning of the word lie.

          The collusion delusion was a lie – the hoaxsters (clinton) who concocted and sold it, knew what they were saying was false.

          The lies you are claiming that Giuliani was disbarred for, are likely true.

        2. Tribe is free to express whatever legal opinions he wishes. Tribes legal opinions once held a great deal of weight – Eastman’s constitutional advice to Trump that YOU think was criminal – is based on Tribe’s writings.
          But have been so crazy since Obama was elected that few hold them credible.

          Those of you on the left seem clueless about how expertise and credibility work.

          With respect to law:
          From least to most significant

          All other things being equal – the person with the better education is more credible.
          All other things being equal – the person with more experience is more credible.
          All other things being irrelevant – the person with a track record of being legally correct is more credible.
          All other things being irrelevant – the person with a track record of being actually correct is more credible.

          I remember Tribe’s advice to Obama to direct Treasury to mint a $1T coin.
          Tribe was legally correct – The president could do that.

          But he was actually incorrect – it would not work.

    3. No, apparently it is you who has no understanding of the Espionage Act. If Trump did what Rudy says, there is no violation of the act.

  9. Just think, if Trump were to win in 2024, he would be president until 2028. The dims would persecute him till at least 2030 on baseless BS. That would be 14 years they wasted trying to convict him of “Something”. They could possibly end up spending a billion of our dollars on what could possibly be the biggest witchhunt in history.

    1. @Independent Bob

      This is true. Just imagine if they’d spent that time trying to actually address and solve problems. There are somethings under the rug that exposure absolutely terrifies our modern DNC, and that is an indisputable fact at this point. It is uncontrovertibly, insanity. This applies to the people in power, not the ignorant as snails young people that don’t know how many states are in the union, or that Europe is not a bunch of states unified by the EU. You can’t blame dumb kids for never learning what they were never taught, you can blame career politicians for all sorts of chicanery.

      1. “There are somethings under the rug that exposure absolutely terrifies our modern DNC, and that is an indisputable fact at this point.”
        They have been in CYA mode since their loss in their war of insurrection euphemistically labeled “The Civil War”. Their ID groups have become more and more bizarre as they betray their former darlings – Southerners (KKK, lynchings, poll taxes and literacy tests, separate but equal, resisting SCOTUS decisions, et al), the poor, blacks, feminists, “gays”. Next is child molesters/rapists, bestiality, necrophiliacs, cannibalism (Why would you be surprised given their disregard for life, lawlessness, immorality, unethical behavior?). Why? As with any evil, their lust for power is insatiable (Hitler, Stalin, Mao. Pol Pot, FDR, Obama, Biden, et al). As they have recently shown in bogus impeachments, indefinite detention, J6 Committee, election theft, personal and political corruption, treason, suspicion homicides of those close to them (Seth Rich, Vince Foster, Jeffrey Epstein, et al) riots, arsons, murders (Summer, ’20) etc., they will do absolutely anything to stay in power for their benefit and that of their sycophants.There is nothing new in this behavior. They have done this since the Colonial Period in their forefathers the Southern plantation owners and slavers.

        As to the “kids”, they are accountable. They have available the greatest tool ever to seek the truth. They need to use it. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse, i.e. no defense. Ignorance of reality is no excuse. Yes, they need assistance but it is up to them.

        “It is incontrovertibly, insanity.” No one chooses to be insane. One does choose to do what the Democrats have done and continue to do. As stated earlier, what they do as partially listed above is EVIL. Indeed, it is that simple.

    2. Independent Bob,

      Just like republicans did with Hillary, right? They sure spent untold millions in investigation after investigation lookin my for crimes. It seems republicans were big fans of witch-hunts for years.

  10. Lawrence Tribe is a joke. Anyone with any integrity would not appear on MSNBC, and definitely would not make the ridiculous comments he has made. Pity his students.

      1. RE:”Does Trump have integrity?..” You clearly illustrate the useless ‘jargon’ I’ve been referencing in my comments today. Go ahead and question integrity. “What difference does it make?” Get my drift?

        1. I have no idea what you are talking about. The poster above made the sweeping claim that “Anyone with any integrity would not appear on MSNBC.” It took 7 seconds to find a clip of Trump on MSNBC. Sweeping comments like that are a problem. There is too much hyperbole in the world today. I am no fan of MSNBC, but people need to think critically about the generalizations they make.

          1. RE:”I have no idea what you are talking about…: I put in quotes “What difference does it make?” and followed with two posts of HRC testifying. Take it from there. You posted a ‘whatabout’ regarding integrity. None of them have integrity. If a politician really has integrity, serve two cycles and quit. It’s been done.

  11. “[W]e have discussed the litany of “slam dunk” crimes that Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe . . .”

    Why do some continue to entertain the claims made by a person who is obviously motivated by blind hatred? At what point do you treat him as a rabid animal — and stay as far away as possible?

  12. Tribe seems to be suffering from legal dysphoria. Is there a surgical procedure or chemical substance that can correct this?

  13. Tribe, and the rest of our “enlightened elite” live in a world of their own creation – not based on reality, but their own senses of idealism/nirvana/utopia and see what they want to see and reject what does not conform to this cerebral universe in which they live. They have become, unbeknownst to themselves, a true impass on humanity all the while they envision themselves as the “saviors’ of mankind – should they just be given enough government funding to “perfect” mankind through their enlightened programs. They will be remembered as a blot and hindranceon the development of the individual human and his environment.

    1. People like Tribe, love to hear themselves speak, whether right or not. The comments he makes, are strictly for banter at elite cocktail parties, where he is considered as a hero to his elitist friends. Tribe has no conscience, and has found that making outlandish statements give him standing among his Trump hating buddies. Since there is never a bad consequence to continuing his outlandish behavior, he will not stop. So, the only way to shut people like Tribe up, are to simply ignore them.

  14. Tribe is way past his “best by” date and likely sitting around ruminating about what might have been had he been given a seat on the SCOTUS. He probably had read with great relish, delight, and a dabble of mustard Central California’s US District Judge Carter’s Opinion given in denying a motion regarding John Eastman’s subpoena from the J6 lunatics. Carter accuses Trump and company of everything but the sinking of the Titanic and then some! And of course, all the evidence is right there before our eyes. Tribe and his Roadrunner pals once again are going to be stymied by Wyle E. Coyote’s aka Donald Trump’s out-maneuvering skills.

    1. I’m not sure whether you’re being facetious or simply have no familiarity with the Warner Bros. canon. In case it’s the latter, please note that it was Wile E. Coyote who was invariably stymied and out-maneuvered by the Roadrunner

    2. Or just the fact that they are WRONG as a matter of law.

      Carter;’s decision is about thought crime – we do not have thought crime in the US

      1. RE:” we do not have thought crime in the US..” As long as one keeps one’s thoughts for oneself. However, express publicly, either vocally or in print, an opinion that’s contrary to the current woke mindset, and the virtue signaling Cancel Culture Gestapo goody two-shoes will ruin your life and your livelihood. We’ve been writing pages of opinions on JT’s posts addressing those very issues for months now.

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