TRUMP GETS SMACKED - TWICE
Donald Trump had a baaaaaaaad day in the legal system this morning.
Over the course of an hour, Trump lost his effort at the Supreme Court and saw his lawyer knocked around like a piñata by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court turned away a Trump effort to block the House Ways & Means Committee from obtaining his tax returns without any comment. That was his last legal chance to keep the investigators away from the tax returns, which he succeeded in delaying for years.
The more significant case though is probably the Mar-a-Lago documents case that the 11th Circuit was hearing. For one thing, the Justice Department filed a notice yesterday with the court that Special Counsel Jack Smith agrees with all points the government made in their appeal and agrees that the court should end the special master review ordered by Judge Loosie Cannon. Just in case you were wondering how fast Mr. Smith can work while recovering from a bicycle accident, now you know.
The only real question is how quickly the appeals court will put an end to the special master review process. .
Trump’s lawyer presented a stew of rapidly changing, frequently conflicting, always ephemeral legal arguments in the case, The three-judge appellate panel often reacted with incredulity.
“Think of the extraordinary nature from our perspective: An injunction against the executive branch in a pre-indictment situation,” 11th Circuit Chief Judge William Pryor implored Trump attorney James Trusty during the oral arguments. “Under the separation of powers, the judiciary doesn’t interfere with those kinds of prosecutorial and investigatorial decisions.”
Trump has tossed out one legal argument after the next - it’s an attorney-client privilege issue, now an executive privilege issue; no, it’s really a question of designating presidential vs. personal records; no, actually, the warrant was carried out improperly.
The government had already succeeded in getting part of Loosie Cannon’s order overturned by a different 11th Circuit panel, which included two of the same judges that heard the arguments today. The appeal today is to get her whole order tossed as the special master process has stretched on, grinding the investigation to a halt.
Trump lawyer James Trusty was left dancing around as the judges grilled him.
Judge Pryor expressed concern that if they sided with Trump, they’d be opening the floodgates to a workaround should any target of federal criminal investigations in the future seek to stymie those probes.
Trusty’s response was to lament the “thousands of personal materials” taken from Trump, begging the judges to think of the “impact on the community when it comes to their view of the criminal justice system.”
“You’ve talked about all these other records and property that were seized,” Pryor cut back, alluding to Trusty’s repeated mention of Trump’s loss of golf shirts and a picture of Celine Dion.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily the fault of the government if someone has intermingled classified documents in all kinds of other personal property,” he added with a chuckle.
Throughout the questioning, the judges expressed skepticism, repeatedly pressing Trusty (what a name for a Trump lawyer - Dickens couldn’t have improved it) for evidence that there was something illegal about the initial raid that would greenlight their involvement at this early stage in the investigation.
“The entire premise of the exercise of this extraordinary kind of jurisdiction would be that the seizure itself is unlawful — if you can’t establish that, then what are we doing here?” Pryor asked.
Following Trusty’s prolonged airing of grievances over the raid and behavior of the FBI agents, Judge Britt Grant asked whether it’s “rare” for the target of a search warrant to feel that it’s overreaching.
When Trusty said that it’s “no real secret” how Trump’s team feels about a handful of arguments in its favor, many of them very new, the chief judge had difficulty hiding his disdain. Pryor interjected, “It might be a secret to this record, but I don’t see where that argument or case has been made, so for our purposes, it sounds like a secret.”
Despite the closest thing you can get to a shellackingteam Trump is continuing its “might as well try” approach. Just minutes before oral arguments, Trump’s lawyers filed a new document with the amenable Judge Cannon, asking that she unseal the affidavit underlying the Mar-a-Lago search warrant to see if the FBI agents violated Trump’s rights during the raid.
“The fact the Government took a huge volume of personal and family photographs, newspapers, thank-you notes, campaign materials, books, and golf shirts demonstrates that this search and seizure was nothing more than a general ransacking,” Trusty huffed.
Loosie didn’t make a ruling. One suspects she is glancing over her shoulder at the 11th Circuit as her jurisprudence is about to be torpedoed a second time.
In Washington, the Supreme Court denied without comment Trump’s last-ditch effort to extend a legal battle that has consumed Congress and the courts for years. The brief order means the Treasury Department may quickly hand over six years of tax records from Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee. There were no recorded dissents and, as is often the case in emergency applications, the court did not state a reason for denying Trump’s request to withhold the records.
It was unclear when the Treasury Department will turn over the records; a spokesman said only that the department would comply. Unfortunately, time is not on the side of Democrats who run the committee. Demands for the records would expire in January, when Republicans take control of the House. One can be sure Congressman Jock Itch, er, I mean Jordan, won’t be renewing the request.
One hopes Congress gets the records next month and in the confusion of changing the running of the House that a PDF of the documents somehow manages to find its way to a reporter’s in-box.
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