Trump, who is seeking another White House bid in 2024, joined Fox News host Bret Baier for a one-on-one interview on Monday during which the former president was grilled about the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s investigation into whether he mishandled classified documents after leaving office in 2021.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 charges in the case last week and has accused prosecutors of engaging in a “witch hunt.” Trump also said that he was not in possession of military secrets but rather the documents referred to in the indictment were newspaper and magazine clippings.
Trump’s interview quickly became a trending topic on social media where numerous legal scholars criticized Trump over his comments during the interview, including his response to an audio recording in which the former president allegedly admitted to having a classified document prepared by the U.S. military.
Several attorneys said the former president admitted to his alleged crimes.
Bradley Moss, a national security attorney, shared a clip on his Twitter account in which Baier is confronting Trump on his alleged mishandling of classified information.
“If this clip is not being aired in digital ads by liberal groups by later tonight they are not doing their jobs. Just brutal,” Moss tweeted.
“Mr. Trump’s lawyers had to be cringing during that interview, and DOJ lawyers were no doubt taking notes,” Moss told Newsweek. “Mr. Trump confessed to personally going through the boxes and had no explanation for why classified records from those boxes wound up in his personal desk. He placed himself at the scene of the retention and obstruction. This is the stuff of nightmares for a defense attorney.”
Legal scholar Jonathan Turley pointed out that Trump’s comments could be used as evidence against him, saying the presidential hopeful discussed the criminal allegations “in detail.”
“Statements of this kind are generally admissible at trial,” he wrote in one of several tweets about Trump’s Fox News appearance.
Turley, a George Washington University law professor who testified in defense of the former president during his first impeachment, said the interview was “extraordinary” in another series of tweets on the topic.
“The most significant legal element is the stating of his defense to the audiotape. Trump will argue that there was never a document with the Iranian attack plan and that he was referring to material referencing the plan,” he said. “On the tape, Trump says ‘As president I could have declassified, but now I can’t…Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this. This was done by the military and given to me.’”
Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis mocked Trump in a slew of Twitter posts, writing: “This is basically every Trump interview at this point.”
Kreis, a Constitutional law scholar, said in a subsequent tweet that he was “half expecting him to pull out the classified maps he’s hiding in Bedminster to make a point.”
Former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski weighed in on the interview with a series of tweets, saying in one of them that the “best possible defense” is insanity. Filipkowski, now a criminal defense attorney, said the best attorneys in the world could not get Trump to stay mum about his legal woes.
“The best 500 lawyers in the world can all unanimously advise Trump not talk about his case on TV, and Trump will disregard them and do the opposite,” Filipkowski tweeted. “This is exactly why MAGA thinks he should be president, and why we think he is the worst possible choice.”
When asked by Newsweek to comment on the Baier interview and the response from legal experts, Trump spokesman Steven Cheung lashed out at one specific critic: Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell.
Swalwell, a former county prosecutor, mocked Trump in a Monday evening Twitter post, writing: “Well that’s that. Trump just confessed to Fox News that he stole and shared classified materials.”
Cheung referred to Swalwell as a “Bonafide threat to America’s national security” in an email to Newsweek, saying the California congressman “has lost all credibility and should get his own house in order before beclowning himself on Twitter.”
Published: 2023-06-20 03:38:17