Donald Trump’s former lawyer Timothy Parlatore defended the former president on Sunday as he compared his classified documents investigation to the case of Hillary Clinton‘s emails.
Trump is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly mishandling hundreds of classified documents he took from the White House when he left office in January 2021. Last August, the FBI recovered classified documents from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, months after he was issued a grand jury subpoena in May 2022 that required him to return all documents in his possession that were marked classified. Trump denied any wrongdoing throughout the course of the probe and claimed that he declassified the documents before taking them from the White House. Special counsel Jack Smith has been appointed by the DOJ to oversee the case.
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Parlatore during an interview on Sunday whether or not he would be surprised if Trump didn’t face any charges in the documents case, to which the lawyer responded, “No, not at all.”
Parlatore said that every case needs to be examined based on facts of the law, whether certain claims are provable, and if the prosecution in the case makes sense.
“Is it something where it is a slam dunk case, where some of these things could be interpreted a few different ways? 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?” he asked in response to Todd’s question about potential charges against Trump.
Trump’s former lawyer continued: “Even if he did a lot of the things that they’re saying that he did, prosecuting him, they’re the same reasons why you wouldn’t want to prosecute him as to why back in 2016, I was [with] the opinion that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted, because there are all of these other problems.”
The former president repeatedly criticized Clinton, his 2016 presidential Democratic opponent, for allegedly using a personal email account and server while she served as secretary of state during the Obama administration. An investigation was launched by the FBI into whether classified information was transferred or improperly stored on that personal system. However, Clinton was in compliance with investigation procedures and was never charged.
The FBI at the time found that there was no case that would support criminal charges against Clinton based on the facts that the agency announced at the time. The bureau said in a report that “although we did not find clear evidence that [former] Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
WATCH: Fmr. Trump attorney @timparlatore says the case for not prosecuting Trump over classified docs is similar to that of not prosecuting Hillary Clinton over emails.
“You have to … take these documents … and prove to [a jury] that it constitutes nat’l defense [info]” pic.twitter.com/3uym4Y1HeX
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 4, 2023
Parlatore explained on Sunday that “classification is not binding on the jury” and that the jury would need to see Trump’s classified documents with proof that the records contain national defense information.
Parlatore told Newsweek on Sunday that cases looking into the mishandling of classified records, whether it involves Clinton, Trump, or even President Joe Biden—who was found to have kept classified material inside his Delaware house, are “complicated” to try in court. He explained those cases are complicated because the sensitive information in question, that might include material deemed dangerous to national security, would then have to be declassified in order to be presented to the jury and made available to the public.
“When it comes to Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump, the documents that are at issue, you have no idea what is in them, but when you bring in prosecution, you would need to have access to them because they [prosecutors] would need to bring them into an open world, they would need to show them to a jury, they would need to largely declassify these documents,” he said of the cases that he described as “politically charged.”
The FBI seized documents from Mar-a-Lago that reportedly included highly classified information about nuclear programs, among other sensitive secretive information that might pose a national security risk.
Parlatore left Trump’s legal team over two weeks ago after playing an important role in the former president’s classified documents case and even testified before the grand jury, CNN reported.
“It’s been an incredible honor to serve and work through interesting legal issues. My departure was a personal choice and does not reflect upon the case, as I believe strongly the (Justice Department) team is engaging in misconduct to pursue an investigation of conduct that is not criminal,” Parlatore told CNN last month.
The investigation into the classified documents case is still ongoing though it is believed that it is reaching its final stages, but still Trump might be facing more legal challenges in the case after his attorneys reportedly couldn’t find a classified U.S. military document that he previously spoke about keeping in a recently leaked audio recording.
In March, Trump’s lawyers handed over material in response to a federal subpoena related to the U.S. military document, although they didn’t find the document itself, CNN reported on Friday. Meanwhile, prosecutors obtained an audio recording of Trump during a July 2021 meeting at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he acknowledged that he kept a classified Pentagon document that detailed a potential attack on Iran.
The former president denied all wrongdoing after reports of the audio recording of him admitting to keeping the Pentagon paper, and said in a recent Fox News interview that he doesn’t “know anything about it. All I know is this. Everything I did was right.”
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