Ex-Trump Lawyer Says DOJ May Decline to Charge Former President Over Classified Docs

Ex-Trump Lawyer Says DOJ May Decline to Charge Former President Over Classified Docs
An aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of former President Donald Trump, on Aug. 15, 2022. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
Samantha Flom
6/5/2023
Updated:
6/5/2023
0:00

Former President Donald Trump may not face charges over his handling of classified documents, according to one of his former attorneys.

During a June 4 interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Timothy Parlatore said he would be “not at all” surprised if special counsel Jack Smith were to decline to prosecute the case.

“You have to evaluate every case based on what are the facts and the law and is it something that’s provable,” Parlatore said.

"From a discretion point of view, is this something where a prosecution makes sense? Is it something where it is a slam-dunk case, where some of these things could be interpreted a few different ways?" he said. "And also, when it comes to a specific issue like this where we are talking about potentially national defense information, is it the type of thing where they want to declassify these things, if they haven’t already been declassified, and put them out publicly?”

The attorney added that such considerations had also informed his opinion that the Justice Department made the right call in 2016 in declining to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a private server for transmitting classified information.

“Classification is not binding on the jury,” he noted. “You have to actually take these documents, show them to the jury, and then prove to them that it constitutes national defense information.”

Parlatore represented Trump in the legal case before leaving the former president’s legal team in May over disagreements with other members of the team. His comments followed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) recent closure of its investigation into former Vice President Mike Pence over the handling of classified documents.

Allegations of Bias

Smith was appointed in November to lead the DOJ’s investigations into whether Trump mishandled classified documents and whether he or others interfered in the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election.

Smith’s appointment followed the 45th president’s launch of his third presidential campaign. It also came amid increasing allegations of political bias at the DOJ following the FBI’s controversial raid of Trump’s home in August.

In announcing Smith’s new role, Attorney General Merrick Garland said: “Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”

Likewise, Smith pledged to conduct the investigations “independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.”

Despite those assurances, Trump has maintained that the special counsel is spearheading a politically motivated “witch hunt” aimed at keeping him out of office.

“Reports are the Marxist Special Prosecutor, DOJ, & FBI, want to Indict me on the boxes hoax, despite all of the wrongdoing that they have done for seven years, including spying on my campaign,” Trump wrote on June 4 in a Truth Social post.

“Biden Crimes go unpunished, including that he had Boxes in Chinatown, in his garage by the ‘Corvette,’ & 1,850 Boxes in Delaware that he won’t allow anyone to see,” he added. “That is real obstruction! They seek retribution for Republicans looking into Biden’s crimes! I have done nothing wrong! Election interference!”

And Trump is not alone in suspecting ulterior motives.

On June 1, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) launched an investigation of whether Smith’s probe has been infected by political bias at the FBI, citing special counsel John Durham’s findings of misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation.
“Recent examples of political bias in FBI and Department of Justice operations show that the so-called ‘corrective measures’ the FBI instituted after Crossfire Hurricane have done nothing to address, let alone cure, the institutional rot that pervades the FBI,” Jordan wrote in a letter (pdf) to Garland. “It is clear that Congress must consider legislative reforms to the FBI, and the Committee has been engaged in robust oversight to inform those legislative proposals. In the interim, however, due to the FBI’s documented political bias, the Justice Department must ensure any ongoing investigations are not poisoned by this same politicization.”

Jordan requested that Garland provide the details of how many FBI employees are assisting Smith with the investigation, whether any were involved in previous Trump-related matters, and whether the probe relies on material collected exclusively by the FBI before Smith’s appointment.

Garland has until 5 p.m. Eastern time on June 15 to respond to the congressman’s requests.

Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her at samantha.flom@epochtimes.us.