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Trump's Truth Social Posts Could 'Undermine' Defense Arguments: McQuade

Newsweek 8/27/2022 Thomas Kika
Above, former President Donald Trump seen at a White House press conference in 2017. A former U.S. Attorney has argued that Trump's posting on Truth Social could undermine his future legal arguments. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Above, former President Donald Trump seen at a White House press conference in 2017. A former U.S. Attorney has argued that Trump's posting on Truth Social could undermine his future legal arguments.

Former President Donald Trump could be sabotaging a potential future legal strategy with his social media use, according to one former federal prosecutor.

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney who worked primarily during the Obama administration, appeared on MSNBC on Saturday morning. During her interview with host Ali Velshi, she discussed the former president's potential strategies for one of his most pressing current legal battles—the FBI investigation into his handling of classified government documents that he allegedly took from the White House to his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago.

McQuade said that one of the main arguments that Trump might try is to claim that others around him mishandled the documents, and that he was not really paying attention. This, she said, would be "undermined" by his many recent posts on Truth Social, the social network platform he helped launch after being banned from Twitter last year.

"While we do have all the indicators that he [Trump] has got the documents and he is not supposed to have them, and a lengthy timeline has gone by, where he was able asked to return them and refused—but we have him acting through proxies along the way," McQuade said. "We see lawyers involved and, I suppose, a potential defense here could be, 'I'm a busy, man, I don't pay attention to these things, I leave these things to my people.'"

"Now his own tweets or posts at Truth Social will undermine that kind of defense. But I imagine that is why the Justice Department says this is an ongoing investigation and that they are interviewing a significant number of civilian witnesses," she added.

Furthermore, McQuade said that surveillance footage that could potentially be obtained from Mar-a-Lago "could be very telling here" in dashing the argument that Trump was not involved with the documents. Should such footage show Trump going through the files and, as some have claimed, "waving around and showing off the letter from Kim Jong-un," then McQuade said that the case against him actively mishandling the files would be "airtight."

On Friday, a Florida magistrate judge unsealed an FBI search warrant affidavit pertaining to the search of Mar-a-Lago that happened earlier this month. Despite heavy redactions, the document revealed that FBI agents found over 100 classified documents on the property and determined that they were not being kept in a sufficiently secure manner. Numerous legal analysts have said, based on the document, that Trump can most likely be indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury.

The ex-president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and accused the FBI of corruption, although the federal agency is currently led by Director Christopher Wray, a Republican whom Trump nominated to the position. The former president also said that the FBI search was part of a broader partisan "witch hunt" targeting him and his family.

McQuade served as a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2010 to early 2017. She was among the many federal attorneys to resign in March 2017 at the request of the Trump administration. She is currently an instructor at the University of Michigan law school, and offers legal analysis on NBC News and MSNBC.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.

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