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Trump is going to be indicted again. This time he's petrified.
Rather than getting out front and inflaming his followers, Trump is denying it's happening. That tells us about the nature of the charge.
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When Donald Trump faced an indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, he got ahead of the story, claiming on Friday, March 19th, that he’d be indicted the following Tuesday. He actually wasn’t indicted until two weeks later, on April 4.
And during that two-week period, Trump predicted he wouldn’t be indicted after all—that Bragg had backed down, presumably in the face of Trump’s racist threats and calls to violence, including his saying there would be "death and destruction" if he was indicted.
But he was indicted, and there was no death or destruction as the rule of law won the day. Trump eventually went in, was arrested, and got fingerprinted like any other common criminal.
Now Trump is again facing imminent indictment. We’ve learned in recent days about the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, having impaneled a second grand jury in Florida in addition to the one in Washington. Trump’s lawyers met with the DOJ to make their case against charging him, which only happens when the DOJ has let a person know they are the target of an investigation. And various news outlets have reported that Trump indeed received a letter stating that he is the target of a federal investigation.
That letter only comes when there is substantial evidence linking the target to a crime or several crimes. Yet Trump is denying he is being indicted while not confirming whether he received the letter or not.
"No one has told me I’m being indicted," Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform. "And I shouldn’t be because I’ve done nothing wrong."
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported that Trump told her "it’s not true" that he’s being indicted, and when she asked if he received the letter noting he was a target, he said he doesn’t talk to the prosecutors.
In other words, Trump got the letter, and he’s likely going to be indicted any day now.
But why isn’t he getting out front on this one, stating he is indeed being indicted and threatening violence, "death and destruction," if it happens?
One answer might be that it didn’t work the first time at stopping the indictment. But Trump doesn’t really learn from the past, and it did help him raise lots of money for his campaign. Instead, he’s denying it, seemingly hoping his lawyers have had some success in dissuading the special counsel from filing charges.
I think it’s because these charges are a whole other ballgame—and lawyers are telling Trump that. During the lead-up to the Bragg indictment, Trump was likely being told that the case was flimsy and would be hard to prosecute—and indeed, we saw much of that in the national news media, most of whom didn’t know New York State law. (Since the indictment, many legal experts have said Bragg has a solid case.)
But the signs now are going in the completely opposite direction. For months, journalists focused on the issue of obstruction and Trump impeding the FBI from getting the documents at Mar-a-Lago. That was bad enough, but far worse are the implications of the previously unknown Florida grand jury. As national security expert Marcy Wheeler told me in an interview on my SiriusXM program yesterday, that means that the special counsel is looking at using the Espionage Act, which can only be used in the locality in which the crime took place.
Marcy had thought this a while back, when most reporters were focused on only the DC grand jury and the issue of obstruction. The Espionage Act raised this to a much higher level, and Trump’s lawyers surely have told him the gravity of this and are clearly trying to stop the DOJ from moving forward. Andrew Feinberg at The Independent reports that the grand jury could vote as early as today. The Espionage Act prohibits "gathering, transmitting, or losing" any "information respecting the national defence" which in this case could be related to the reports of Trump on a recording waving around a classified document about Iran and war plans and acknowledging that it’s classified.
I believe Trump is really scared. Any move like the one he pulled before the Bragg indictment could only inflame this situation. Unlike the Bragg case, which was about white-collar business crime, this is about government secrets. Trump has no idea what Jack Smith has. I suspect it might be a lot more than we know right now.