You can’t see Defendant Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, from I-78. You take exit 26 and turn right on Rattlesnake Bridge Road, and then less than a mile later and you take a right on Lamington Road and you go about another mile before you take your third right onto the grounds of what is known as Trump National Golf Course Bedminster. The environs out there are country-clubby. There are two other country clubs off the same exit – the Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club and the Lamington Farm Club, and most of the rest of the surrounding area could be called horsey – Rocking Horse Farm is nearby, as is Elite Equestrian International and Spook Hollow Farm.
I’ve driven I-78 out that way many times. It’s not what you might imagine when you hear “New Jersey” and “interstate” in the same sentence. It goes through a leafy part of the state. Most of what you can see from the roadway are trees, with few of the usual interstate exits spiked with tall signs reading “McDonalds” and “Shell” and “Target.” Just before you reach Exit 26, a row of trees screens off three holes of the Trump golf course. It’s so close, you could throw a Coke can out of your car window and hit Trump Trail, running alongside the course between the interstate and one of the club’s fairways.
It’s 48 miles, most of it on I-78 West, from downtown New York City, and a little less from Newark Airport if Defendant Trump’s lawyers are flying up from Florida, out to Defendant Trump’s Bedminster golf club where he spends his summers. Defendant Trump’s lawyers are going to get very familiar with the three right hand turns off Exit 26 as they drive out to meet with their client over the next weeks and months about the trove of evidence the Department of Justice turned over to the defense this week. In fact, Defendant Trump is probably going to have to ask his co-Defendant, Walt Nauta, to find yet another place to store all the boxes from the Department of Justice (DOJ). He’s not going to want them anywhere near his residence this time.
Just this sentence, taken from the first page of the “Government’s Response to the Standing Discovery Order,” filed on Wednesday with the District Court of South Florida, contains nightmares a-plenty for Defendant Trump: “The first part includes, inter alia, documents obtained via subpoena; evidence obtained via search warrants; transcripts of grand jury testimony taken before a grand jury in the District of Columbia and transcripts of grand jury testimony taken before a grand jury in the Southern District of Florida; and memorialization of witness interviews conducted through May 12, 2023.”
And if that’s not enough to keep him up at night, Defendant Trump can ponder the next few sentences: “The second part includes a reproduction of ‘key’ documents and photographs included in Production 1 that are referenced in the Indictment and others determined by the government to be pertinent to the case. The third part consists of complete copies of closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage obtained by the government in its investigation. To facilitate review, the government also identified and separately produced for the defense ‘key’ excerpts from the CCTV footage, including excerpts referenced in the Indictment or otherwise determined by the government to be pertinent to the case.”
All of these things are the kinds of niggling little details that Defendant Trump has studiously avoided in his decades of getting away with pretty much anything he wanted to do.
What that means is the DOJ did Defendant Trump the favor of making what might be called a highlight reel of the really good stuff, like surveillance shots of his co-Defendant Nauta carrying box after box out of the basement storage room, some 64 boxes in all, and then returning only 30 boxes to the storage room on June 2, the morning that Defendant Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, showed up at Mar-a-Lago to have lunch with his client and conduct his “diligent search” for “all” of the classified documents Defendant Trump had in his possession. We know from the indictment that what Corcoran turned over on June 3 to Jay Bratt, the head of the DOJ’s Counterintelligence Division, was a folder containing just 38 classified documents, and we know from the same indictment that when the FBI showed up on August 8 with a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, they found more than 100 classified documents that had not been discovered by Corcoran’s “diligent search,” many of them in Defendant Trump’s office, which Corcoran had not searched.
All the surveillance footage will be time-stamped with dates to correspond with the crimes cited in the indictment, the crimes that carry the most jail time if Defendant Trump should be found guilty – up to 20 years in prison and a fine or both.
Contributing to Defendant Trump’s sleepless nights are these little gems from the government’s list of discovery materials:
· Interviews of Defendant Trump conducted by non-government entities, which were recorded with his consent and obtained by the Special Counsel’s Office during the investigation of this case, including the July 21, 2021 recorded interview Defendant Trump provided to a publisher and writer quoted in part in the Indictment;
· Public statements made by Defendant Trump, including the public statements quoted in the Indictment;
· The May 26, 2022 FBI interview of Defendant Nauta, which is quoted in the Indictment; and
· The June 21, 2022 grand jury testimony of Defendant Nauta.
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Now, these last two little items should be particularly nightmare-inducing to Defendant Trump, because there are reported discrepancies between Defendant Nauta’s May 26 FBI interview, and his testimony under oath before the grand jury nearly a month later, a few days before the DOJ issued a subpoena on June 24 for Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage – all of it supplied and annotated for the convenience of the defendants by the DOJ.
All of these things are the kinds of niggling little details that Defendant Trump has studiously avoided in his decades of getting away with pretty much anything he wanted to do, from grabbing women by their private parts to multiple fraud-laden filings for bankruptcy to not paying his bills to whatever he got into with his “close friend” Jeffrey Epstein on his trips to Girls Gone Wild Island in the American Virgin Islands.
This discovery document is darkened by the foreboding feeling that There is More to Come.
Just between you and me, I would not want to be one of the lawyers who now has to sit down with Defendant Trump and go over all that grand jury testimony – page after page of it – describing in detail what happened at Mar a Lago as the piles of boxes were moved from trucks to ballroom stages to public bathrooms to the Defendant’s residence to the Defendant’s office and back to storage rooms along walls facing other boxes interspersed with copying machines, and to private jets bound for Bedminster.
None of what is contained in this particular Government’s Response to the Standing Discovery Order involves the 31 classified documents relating to the 31 felony charges involving the Espionage Act, which will be revealed to Defendant Trump and his lawyers once they obtain the security clearances necessary to be able to view them in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – a SCIF – at either the Department of Justice, which has one, or at the Federal Courthouse in which Judge Aileen Cannon sits in Fort Pierce, Florida, in which a SCIF will be constructed for that purpose.
There are these notations that might give Defendant Trump a semblance of comfort:
K. The government did not seize from either defendant any contraband that could be chemically analyzed.
L. The government does not know of any automobile, vessel, or aircraft allegedly used in the commission of this offense that is currently in the government’s possession.
M. The government is not aware of any latent fingerprints or palm prints that have been identified by a government expert as those of either defendant.
N. To date, the government has not received a request for disclosure of the subject-matter of expert testimony that the government reasonably expects to offer at trial.
However, paragraph L might cause the Defendant some tossing and turning, as it mentions an “aircraft allegedly used in the commission of this offense that is [not] currently in the government’s possession.”
Ooops. That “currently” kind of sits there lurking menacingly, doesn’t it? If I were Defendant Trump, I would be dispatching Defendant Nauta out there to whatever plane Defendant Trump used in 2022 with a spray bottle of grease remover and some rags to make sure there aren’t any fingerprints down in the hold where certain boxes might have been stored during Trump’s flight from Palm Beach to Bedminster.
This discovery document is darkened by the foreboding feeling that There is More to Come. Which may be why there is already speculation among former defense attorneys and political analysts that Defendant Trump may be planning to “plead out” before trial, which would give him the opportunity to do what he does best: float a brand new Big Lie that “I won the case by a LOT.”
Methinks that the nightmares to come with the indictment of Defendant Trump and co-Defendant Nauta are not to be had only by Defendant Trump but by us, right here at home in our own bedrooms.
Watch this space.
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