‘Stunning Development’: DOJ Letter Telling Trump He’s a Target is Extraordinary Sign Indictment is Near

On social media, former President Donald Trump is attempting to make things seem like everything is all good in the

Donald Trump
United States President Donald J. Trump joined by US Vice President Mike Pence, delivers brief remarks on the stock marked and the Dow reaching 30,000 for the first time in history, at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Credit: Kevin Dietsch / Pool via CNP Newscom

On social media, former President Donald Trump is attempting to make things seem like everything is all good in the world of Trump.

The former POTUS is focusing on attacking allies and bemoaning the “injustice” he experiences at the hands of the Department of Justice, ignoring the fact that legal peril is bearing down on him with increasing speed.

Late Wednesday, news broke that federal prosecutors from the Department of Justice had formally put Trump on notice that he is the target of a grand jury’s investigation into the documents he allegedly illegally mishandled.

And that news came not long after media outlets broke news that the DOJ is ready to ask the grand jury to vote on criminal charges over that same investigation.

But the letter itself from the DOJ informing Trump that he is a target is the clearest sign that an criminal charges are close – and that he will be the one receiving them, if the grand jury votes to indict.

The grand jury meets today, which means that they could vote on indictment as soon as today and pass criminal charges down shortly thereafter.


Or they could wait a week to make sure all evidence has been gathered and considered, and vote when the grand jury meets next week.

Either way, the rapid acceleration in events is a stunning development in the investigation – and uncharted territory for the nation.

Salon spoke with former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor, who told the outlet, “It should come as no surprise to anyone that Trump is a target of this investigation, based on public reporting about the evidence. He is at the center of what appears to be a willful retention of classified documents and obstruction of justice.”

McQuade added, “Typically, prosecutors will tell a defense attorney upon request whether the client is a target, usually so that the client can assess his potential criminal exposure to decide whether to testify or instead assert the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.”

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, added, “Legally, the Trump team will get organized for charges to be filed and politically the former president will have to decide on a strategy to publicly address possible charges.”

“This is a stunning development in the political world of former presidents,” Rottinghaus said. “We have not had an indictment against a former president let alone one running for president again.”

While Trump has claimed that he was never told he would be indicted, he may be playing with words.

Donald Trump

The letter wouldn’t tell Trump that he will be indicted, but it would certainly have informed him that he is the target of the investigation.

And now we know that those indictments could be coming very soon.

Trump’s ire over the entire process has not been a secret, but because the stakes are so high in this case, he likely won’t have the freedom he’s enjoyed since being indicted on dozens of charges in a Manhattan hush money case earlier this year.

Salon explains, “The Department of Justice is getting ready to petition a grand jury in Washington, DC, to indict the former president on charges of breaching the Espionage Act and obstructing justice as early as Thursday, according to The Independent. Prosecutors are ready to ask grand jurors to approve an indictment against the former president for violating a portion of the US criminal code known as Section 793, which prohibits ‘gathering, transmitting or losing’ any ‘information respecting the national defense,’ The Independent reported. Prosecutors plan to ask grand jurors to vote on the indictment on Thursday, but the vote may be delayed for up to a week to give investigators more time to gather additional evidence if required, according to the outlet.”

It’s worth noting that Trump’s most ardent defense up until now has been that he was able to declassify the documents in his role as President, therefore there’s no case. But Section 793 bypasses that defense, because it no longer matters if the documents are classified – just that sensitive information was mishandled in a way that could put American security interests at risk.

And considering the fact that the documents at the heart of the infamous Trump tape – where he was heard talking about classified documents – can’t be found, Trump’s own words may have sunk him.

News of the indictment will evolve rapidly once the grand jury votes, but for now it’s a waiting game for everyone involved. A game with the highest stakes possible.