Donald Trump’s Indictment Case has a Looming 2024 End Date

Below is my column in the New York Post on the Trump indictment and why so many citizens have little interest in its content or charges. The reaction of many citizens vividly shows the costs of years of biased and inconsistent decisions involving Democratic and Republican figures. The result is what you now see. The Justice Department has lost the room.

Here is the column:

When Special Counsel Jack Smith walked before cameras on Friday after the release of the Trump 44-page indictment against former President Donald Trump, he started with arguably his most difficult case to make.

He declared “we have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”

After years of scandal and documented political bias by key Justice officials, the line likely left many skeptical, assuming many were even watching.

The indictment was clearly a pitch to the public that this is a prosecution entirely removed from recent history.

We’re also meant to not think about the fact that the Biden Administration is charging the leading candidate opposing him in the upcoming election.

This indictment has merit, but the Justice Department lost the right to expect trust from the citizens years ago — long before the damning Inspector General’s Report and the recent report of Special Counsel John Durham.

To make matters worse, the same suspects have surfaced to celebrate Trump’s expected demise — and remind the public of the perceived double standard in Washington.

Peter Strzok, the FBI special agent who was fired over his anti-Trump bias in the Russian collusion investigation, cheered the indictment by tweeting a photo of handcuffs with Trump’s image.

Strzok seems to think that it is a good thing for Smith to remind everyone of how he promised his colleague and lover Lisa Page that she did not have to worry about Trump being elected because they had an “insurance policy” to “stop it.”

Hillary Clinton went on social media to hawk her line of merchandize mocking the case against her for storing classified material on her personal server and then destroying tens of thousands of emails sought by the Congress.

She sent out a picture mocking Trump while wearing her “But Her Emails” hat.

With millions of Americans wondering why Trump is being charged but Clinton was given a pass, Clinton decided to do a victory lap.

And hey, why not: James Comey is back.

It was Comey who declined to prosecute Clinton despite finding that she violated federal rules and handled classified material “carelessly.” He then launched a Russian collusion investigation that Durham found lacked minimal support against Trump.

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to mishandling classified White House documents that were recovered at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Trump unlawfully kept hundreds of documents after leaving office — including papers detailing America’s conventional and nuclear weapons programs, potential weak points in US defenses, and plans to respond to a foreign attack, federal prosecutors charged Friday.

The 45th president stored boxes containing the documents throughout his estate, including “a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room,” according to a 49-page indictment filed in Miami federal court Thursday.

The indictment against Trump was unsealed hours after the 76-year-old announced he had been charged by Jack Smith, the special counsel tapped in November to examine Trump’s retention of official documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The indictment is the former commander in chief’s second since leaving office and marks the first time in US history a former president has faced federal charges.

In April, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg related to hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election.

Nevertheless, Comey chose this month to declare that, in the 2024 election, “it has to be Joe Biden.”

For critics, that is consistent with his views and actions before he was fired as FBI director.

After Trump was indicted in a raw political prosecution in New York, Comey also went public to declare it a “good day.”

So in the court of public opinion, past history and hypocrisy may mean that few are swayed about whether they back Trump or not. Which leaves the criminal court.

This indictment has some devastating elements, including an audiotape in which Trump tells two visitors about a highly classified attack plan on Iran while admitting that it remained classified.

That tape directly contradicts his past claims of declassification and suggests that Trump was using the document as a type of trophy.

There are also damaging statements from former staff and counsel alleging that Trump actively sought to conceal documents.

Smith is now left in a battle not with Trump but time.

There are a variety of challenges expected from the Trump team, including arguing that the government misused the civil statute of the Presidential Records Act to launch a criminal prosecution.

They are likely to cite a 2012 opinion that Bill Clinton could remove classified tapes with foreign leaders — even if the tapes are designated to be presidential records.

Amy Berman Jackson declared “the [Presidential Records Act] does not confer any mandatory or even discretional authority on the archivist. Under the statute, this responsibility is left solely to the president.”

The Trump team is likely to litigate that and other questions.

While there are good-faith arguments to make in rebuttal, it will take time.

And if enough time passes, the ultimate judgment in the case will be the millions of jurors in the coming election.

Not only can Trump pardon himself, but fellow candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy have also suggested that they will also pardon him.

Smith’s case could end with a stroke of a pen.

It seems for both Comey and Smith, it has to be Biden in 2024.

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.

285 thoughts on “Donald Trump’s Indictment Case has a Looming 2024 End Date”

  1. PRESIDENT Trump did NOTHING wrong. The 1% & their U.S. government bureaucracy (or, “Deep State”) has been waging a war against Trump since BEFORE JAN. 2017 when he was inaugurated. They don’t like him, because he is AMERICA FIRST! It’s THAT simple. The 1% are (((ZIONIST))), and they FINANCE socialism / (((communism))), globally, including here in the USSA (United Socialist or Soviet States of Amerika).

  2. Some bigger points to consider when viewing these issues:

    What is the one thing thing that police chiefs, FBI Directors, Attorneys General, FBI Directors, CIA Directors, Congress, judges and the military all have in common?

    100% of these officials swear a supreme loyalty oath, limiting their job authority, to follow the U.S. Constitution [a wartime governing charter]. This is the employment contract they all agree to follow before being granted any governing authority. Most make a promise to GOD to follow the U.S. Constitution and not violate any person’s constitutional rights. This is what really separates American officials from Nazis, Communists and despotic regimes – we swear loyalty to a constitution that protects individual liberties and restrains governing officials.

    2nd Point: George Washington warned in his Farewell Address that “political parties” could destroy America. That putting political party over the nation’s interest was highly disloyal for any American.

    3rd Point: As for a Trump double-standard. Trump was asked very politely, multiple times, by the federal government to return secret documents that didn’t belong to him. Subordinate officials were criminally prosecuted for similar violations, Trump was initially given a slap on the wrist – he then lied repeatably and showed no remorse whatsoever. If he had simply returned the stolen documents, when asked politely multiple times, there would be no criminal indictments. So this is not similar to other cases. Trump was treated better than most other officials.

    4th Point: how can a U.S. Department of Justice that engineered torture techniques derived from the Spanish Inquisition, supported by case law from World War Two (the USA criminally prosecuted waterboarding torture) and Ronald Reagan’s Torture Treaty now claim to support the “constitutional rule of law”? Bush DOJ lawyers engineered blatant violations of international, constitutional and federal law. Borrowing a term from Orwell’s book “1984”, American leaders and mainstream press organizations appear to have sent that history down the “Memory Hole” (airbrushing it out of the history books). Oath sworn officials were ruined and some served prison time for upholding their Oath of Office during the Bush era.

    5th Point: it’s time to totally abolish or reform the “Espionage Act of 1917”. Since 1917, this broken law has been been used more than 90% of the time to silence or indict “non-spies” – not penalizing people trying to harm the USA but punishing those loyal to the American Oath of Office.

    When trying to reform these systems to prevent a “deterrent effect” to future leaders, all of these points must be addressed and resolved. Why are some voters cynical, this is part of the reason.

    1. Trump was the chief executive, and could do what he wished with any and all materials. Have a read of the sock diaries with the womanizer Bill Clinton.

  3. It appears that at this point whether charged or not charged both Biden and Trump have broken the law. Biden up to now has had the protection of a politicized corrupt FBI and DOJ that has been weaponized from at least the time of the Obama administration to subvert the rule of law and go after all of Obama’s political enemies. Trump has been public enemy number one of this system from the time he became a potential contender for President. Even before he took office a political coup was in place based on false witnesses and manufactured crimes along with violations of federal laws to insure that he would never be President. Everyone laughed at the thought he would be elected. They lied they cheated and they overplayed their hand and Trump won the 2016 election as the choice of the people. The Marxist LEFT, HRC , the DEEP STATE and above all the MSM was devastated. Impeachment proceedings were already under way before Trump took the oath of office. Trump fought hard against total opposition against him by the MSM and the Deep State and kept most of his promises to make America great again not only in the eyes of its citizens but its allies and even its enemies. Abandon the personalities and compare Trumps accomplishments in his first term of office and Biden’s first two years. Each President warts and all offers two stark realities of their leadership. One wants to build up our nation and one wants to destroy it. If an honest election can be run in this dark hour let the people the citizens of the United States choose the next President. Let them choose between life and death for our country one vote per citizen. It remains to be seen that a corrupt DOJ and FBI will succeed in convicting one and exonerating another. However the people of the USA should be the ones to decide at the ballot box who should be their next President, not a biased and corrupt justice system cheering 24/7 for our demise as a free nation.

  4. This is NOT how the system is supposed to work – the COURTS are “supposed” to take care of this job for us, with fairness and integrity. Will Democrats like it when one day the table is turned? Of course not, then THEY will be crying foul. “Shoe on the other foot” [Alan Dershowitz]

  5. Starting with 8/16/22 and working towards the present, click on the respective writings of Jonathan Turley and Margot Cleveland and search for “Garland.” it makes for an interesting comparison.

  6. A quick comparison of the many thousands of the crowds at a Trump rally with the 5 or 10 press corps that showed up for a Biden rally is all it takes to see that the elections were stolen on a wholesale scale. 2000 mules documented the rest. But Trump is still not admitting that the vaccines are deadly, even if he did win the elections. Trump is no Savior as he promised and he’s probably a part of the same deep state as the rest of the crooked politicians in the District of Criminals in one big game of good cop/bad cop. America loses regardless of who gets in office.

  7. “He declared “we have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”

    I just hope someone does a competent evaluation of how much classified data was exposed by Trump versus how much by HRC.

    For the jury to hear.

    That would be a “glove didn’t fit, you must acquit” moment for any jury.

    1. The law only applies if you are a republican or RINO if you are a dem/communist you can pretty much get by with murder the Clintons have. I have never in my life seen such hatred from communists for anyone Trump must have really scared the Be Jesus out of them he knows their secrets probably having done business in New York for so many years they want him dead or at least shut up for good It will be the end of the country if they get by with this sham.

  8. The Constitution requires that Americans be treated equally under the law. There is no reason to infer, however, that this requirement applies only to the treatment under the same statutes. For example, if the federal government turns a blind eye to bribes solicited and accepted from other nations by members of one political party in America while arresting members of another political party in America for mishandling sensitive and classified government documents, that might be an example of unequal treatment under the law.

    1. The problem is that the courts of today rule by something they call (civil code) and will arrest both you and your attorney for even mentioning the Constitution. Been there and seen it first hand in court.

  9. “It seems for both Comey and Smith, it has to be Biden in 2024.”
    For Smith, it must Biden as his future is otherwise toast.
    For Comey, who cares as he is just white trash that made it farther in life than he deserved. One wonders how many honest, well deserved minority members were stepped over just to promote such a deceitful stooge.

    1. Hey, lay off the “white trash,” comparison, Comey is a disgraced POS, and deserves to be shunned for eternity!

  10. “we have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone.”

    How aloof, unimaginative, and insulated do you have to be to start the press conference that way under the circumstances?

    There has to be some aversion to the overall environment in which your press conference takes place.

    How about:

    “After thorough investigation and much introspection in light of past events and the findings of the Durham report, I want to assure the public that my office arrived at today’s decisions with careful deliberation and thought.”

    In some way, you’ve got to aver to a sense of contrition on behalf of D.O.J. and F.B.I., and separate your office from past events. That still may not do the trick. But anything’s better than way he started it.

  11. Today Grassley said in the Senate that the 1023 provided to the oversight committee for review redacted references to 17 recordings made by the Burisma executive who claimed to have paid bribes. The recordings were of 15 discussions with Hunter and two with Joe. He made the recordings as a kind of “insurance policy.” Now, why were these references redacted?

    How about conditioning all future aid to Ukraine on the provision to the House oversight committee of evidence and testimony regarding this.

    Trump was right in the summer of 2019 to ask Zelensky to work with Barr to investigate Joe.

      1. Thanks Lin. Hard to know if there’s anything there, though it seems possible that Hunter was providing classified information to China. Miranda Devine wrote a story a while ago saying he may have used government information in his pitch to join the Burisma board.

        1. (Actually, I was not focusing on Hunter’s “providing classified information to China.” Rather, I was referring to Chung’s history and role as a team member “sanctioned for withholding and even destroying key documents in the federal case that sought sensitive records from a central figure in the so-called Chinagate” matter. (source: my above reference).
          As noted in the article, Joe Biden selected Chung to handle the transfer of all his boxes of documents, and move them around, over the last several years.)

  12. The Constitution does not allow the government to first target a man and then conduct investigations looking for any crimes he may have committed, which is what the FBI has been doing with Trump non-stop for the last seven years.

    1. catawba, while I understand and agree that on paper it does not, we’re not governed by paper. The nanosecond our constitution was ratified the American people were put on the clock to maintain what that paper said. We had our peaks and valleys over the first 150 years or so, but in the last 100 years progressivism has exploited the Achille’s heel of this system: The American people. James Garfield warned us in 1876 and still that was not enough:

      Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature… If the NEXT CENTENNIAL does not find us a great nation… it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

      1. Olly: What a keenly applicable quote you offer there. Thanks for the inspiring reminder. We definitely need to be reminded now and then, contrary to a daily bombardment with agenda-driven news, of what we stand to lose.

      2. Although our Constitution has been followed and ignored at various times throughout American history, the importance of that piece of paper cannot be overstated. Without that piece of paper serving as a beacon for what we should be, we would become permanently lost. With it, there is always a way back.

        1. coastal, I certainly agree in the importance of our constitution. But I disagree that that importance cannot be overstated. I’m a perfect example. In elementary school we were taught to memorize the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution. When I was in high school in the 70’s, my favorite class was history. I had a full year of US Government. Then I joined the Navy. I took the oath to protect and defend the constitution 4 times over my 20 year career. In all that time, from primary school to my retirement, I had never read the constitution in it’s entirety. I never read the Declaration of Independence. I only recall being taught the facts (battles, dates, people) but nothing about the why of it all. So I retired in 1999 and read the constitution for the first time in 2007. Then the Federalist Papers. And then the Declaration of Independence. I have been studying the why ever since.

          The American people aren’t taught the why. They hear on the news something about the courts and a case ruled unconstitutional. We have elections and issues that effect them personally and they vote for someone promising to make their lives better. If that person is a Democrat, they will assume every Democrat is good so vote straight party ticket. Same for Republicans. If they vote at all. Then they go about their lives being told by the politicians and the media that their problems are the result of the other party. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. They never look for the facts and truth. And they are as removed from the why of it all as can be imagined.

          Of everything that I have studied, I believe the most important document is our Declaration of Independence. Studying that gets to the heart of why we even have a constitution. Abraham Lincoln thought so as well and his Fragment on the Constitution and the Union is a beautiful expression of that.

          All this is not the result of accident. It has a philosophical cause. Without the Constitution and the Union, we could not have attained the result; but even these are not the primary cause of our great prosperity. There is something back of these, entwining itself more closely about the human heart. That something is the principle of “liberty to all”—the principle that clears the path for all—gives hope to all—and by consequence, enterprise, and industry to all.

          The expression of that principle, in our Declaration of Independence, was most happy and fortunate. Without this, as well as with it, we could have declared our independence of Great Britain; but without it, we could not, I think, have secured our free government and consequent prosperity. No oppressed people will fight and endure, as our fathers did, without the promise of something better than a mere change of masters.

          The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word “fitly spoken” which has proved an “apple of gold” to us. The Union and the Constitution are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made not to conceal or destroy the apple but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple—not the apple for the picture.

          So let us act, that neither picture or apple shall ever be blurred or bruised or broken.

          That we may so act, we must study, and understand the points of danger.

        2. The Constitution was shredded and trashed by “Crazy Abe” Lincoln and it hasn’t been seen or heard since.

    2. Catswba, for one minute, you don’t believe that. I’m sure that if our justice department and FBI would be hot on the trail of the Biden crime family. Our elected and appointed officials are way beyond reproach. I have complete and total faith and trust in ou federal government.

  13. I suspect this case will be over long before the 2024 election. The thing that will matter most is the Jury Selection.

  14. A year and a half from now, Trump will be president and Biden will under home arrest in Delaware.

    1. A year and a half from now Bobby Kennedy may take us to a place we have never been before. A three man race for the whitehouse and nobody gets 271 electoral votes.

  15. Dear Jonathan Turley,

  16. Dear Prof Turley,

    Special counsel Jack Smith must be the GOAT of all Special Counsels. The standard by which all other Special Counsels must be measured. In less than six months, SC Smith has nailed the elusive, slippery Trump – at long last – while other lesser Special Counsel investigations linger for eternity.

    And according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, the government has a lot more damning proof that it can throw at Trump during his criminal trial.

    “Writing on Twitter, Haberman reveals that “the indictment, according to multiple people familiar with the case, shows a fraction of the evidence the government has amassed.””

    *this has all the classic hallmarks of Russian disinformation.

    1. How does Maggie Haberman know that the government has more evidence? Assuming she’s telling the truth, someone at the DOJ/FBImust be leaving this information. You non-political (clears throat) at work.

      1. Maggie knows people “familiar with the case”.

        *and you don’t want to work on Maggie’s farm.

    2. One things for sure: this case will never go to trial. As Professor Turley points out, Trump is pardoned if either he wins or if another Republican (except Christie) is elected in 2024.

      However, there’s another angle that needs to be considered.

      But what if Biden or a Democrat wins in 2024? A Trump trial would be the media circus of the century if not the millennium. A Dem president isn’t going to want that overshadowing the first two years of his or her presidency. A trial would give Trump the biggest forum ever to attack the deep state. Besides, after the election the political value is nil as Trump likely won’t run in 2028 when Trump is 82. I predict that a Biden (or Harris or Buttigieg) DOJ would quietly drop the case in the interest of ‘national unity’.

      So no matter the outcome of 2024, there’s no trial and Trump’s not going to jail.

  17. In a comment that was deleted, someone suggested that Svelaz had been banned.

    Is that true? If so, why?

  18. Judging by the comments, nobody’s mind has been changed. But it’s the closest Professor Turley has come to expressing a fair assessment of an unfair situation. You want to prosecute Trump on a documents case, fine. But prosecute everybody else too. Raid Obama at dawn, same for Bush and Clinton, and let the chips fall. In chronological order. And prosecute them for everything. What about Obama’s comment that he would have more flexibility after the election? What about his bragging that he was, in fact, born in Kenya and therefore ineligible to be president? Nail them all. But as long as the only guy to be prosecuted also happens to be the 2024 frontrunner, Jack Smith can save his breath because we don’t believe him.

    1. deboluccia: No– no one is prosecuting Trump “on a documents case”. They are prosecuting him on refusing to return documents after being asked, lying about returning them, mishandling them, disclosing the contents of classified information to people without security clearances, and for obstruction of justice. Your basic premise is wrong because you believe lies you heard on alt-right media who keep trying to equite Trump’s criminal conduct to others who merely possessed classified information. No one else–i.e., Pence, Clinton, Biden or Obama– did any of these things. Read the indictment.

      1. Gigi: I’ve read the indictment and YOUR basic premise is wrong. The Presidential Records Act, as per the Jackson Ruling (and the 1986 Supreme Court ruling in Milner v. Department of the Navy, more broadly), states that the President has the authority to decide WHICH papers are his private papers and which are government papers. Nobody may change that. The Archivist can register a challenge, sure, but they can’t change it…the President (or ex-President) decides. Further, the papers were declassified if Trump says he did it as President – nobody can say otherwise.

        That is why Smith is trying to revive the Espionage Act of 1917 to make his case – he can’t do it on PRA or NARA (no criminal statutes) and he isn’t trying to make the case on “classification” issues, and isn’t trying to.

        As to the recording, there are two problems: 1) actual context of the statement – the fuller conversation may say otherwise. Being a tape, language matters, and the difference between saying “Secret” and “a Secret” matters. 2) For the tape to have any value, they would have to find such a document – and they haven’t. In fact, they can’t connect ANY document to ANY violation.

        In the end, the ruling says Trump can take whatever papers he wants. The PRA and NARA say the Archivist is supposed to work with the ex-President, not try to launch a one-sided, unprecedented, novel legal case to go after a singular person (Trump) given their limited purview and the nature of prior acts (which makes this selective prosecution). Finally, the predicate for the case by Smith fails because of 1) the rulings on Presidential papers 2) the rulings on Classification and 3) the inherent Powers of the President under Article 2.

        If you can’t make the case that Trump couldn’t have the papers (especially as HE understood and his lawyers told him) due to the Constitution and precedent, then the whole case falls apart because you are trying to prosecute him for something that is perfectly legal.

        Much as with Bragg’s weak case – NDA’s are legal. Trump paid for it with his money. They are trying to suspend tolling (the statute of limitations) and link it to a Federal crime (saying it was related to an election donation violation) when the FEC has said there was no such campaign violation, let alone a criminal act.

        You can’t just make things up.

      1. You say Obama’s statement that he was born in Kenya isn’t true. Trump’s statement about a classified document still being classified isn’t true either.

        ATS, you have a double standard which makes you a hypocrite.

      2. Obamas mother met his father when he was in Hawai. Obamas “typical white people” grand parents were anything but “typical”. Obamas maternal grandfather was working for the CIA. His job was to train black Africans to be pro American. These were supposedly the future leaders of Africa. While in Hawai he knocked up Obamas mother. He had a wife back in Kenya, and after that he made his way to Harvard where he knocked up 2 more white girls. One of these 2 went back to Kenya with him. I think I now know how Obama paid for his time at Occidental college. At that time Occidental was a great recruiting campus for the CIA. Oh by the way, Obamas mother worked in bank that laundered money to dictators that the CIA wanted to prop up. “Typical white people”.

    2. “You want to prosecute Trump on a documents case, fine. But prosecute everybody else too. Raid Obama at dawn, same for [Biden], Bush and Clinton, and let the chips fall. In chronological order. And prosecute them for everything.”

      I agree.

      Some pigs are not more equal than others.

      1. The only reason that they had to get a search warrant for Trump was because they had a witness statement — shown to be true — that he refused to return everything after being subpoenaed. Biden already had the FBI search, no subpoena needed. AFAIK, there is no evidence that Obama, Bush or Clinton have any records they shouldn’t.

        A warrant is only issued on probable cause. What is your probable cause for everyone else?

        1. Wrong again. The FBI needed a hearing with both sides present.

          Remember the FISA requests and how the FBI lied to illegally get search warrants. You forgot that ATS. Short term memory loss. Better check in and get some medication.

        2. Maybe you should set your daughter up on a date with Hunter Biden or maybe let your son go out with Barrack and Michael Obama since you think these people are so innocent. No wonder America is crashing when people are this stupid and willfully so.

    1. It’s around $117 billion (inclusive) and Sen. Lindsey Graham recently told president Zelenskiy killing Russians was the ‘best money we ever spent’.

    2. Would you be saying that if it was you, your kids or grandkids life was only worth $133.33?
      Man up. Stand behind your words and get down to the recruitment center.

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