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Trump Legal News: Happiness is a Warm Gun

A warm gun is one that was just fired, right? And a gun that was just fired will also be smoking, right? Then, by transitive property, happiness is a smoking gun, right? Good, because then the song fits our headline needs perfectly.

It seems there have been a lot of smoking guns that have implicated Donald Trump in criminal wrongdoing. Maybe that is how it works when you get charged with 91 felonies across four jurisdictions. And yesterday, yet another smoking gun came to light. According to ABC News, former Trump aide Molly Michael has been talking to the feds about what she saw at Mar-a-Lago.

So, what did Michael see? Boxes of classified documents, lots and lots of them. She also saw Trump using the backs of classified note cards (from presidential briefings) to write to-do lists. Those note cards were put away in drawers that the feds apparently did not search, such that Michael herself ended up recovering them and turning them over to the FBI the day after Mar-a-Lago was raided. She eventually quit her job because she became concerned about Trump's behavior related to the documents, and his efforts to keep them hidden, and she didn't want any part of it. At one point—and this is the smoking gun—the former president told Michael "You don't know anything about the boxes." In other words, the first rule of Mar-a-Lago is "You do not talk about the boxes." The second rule of Mar-a-Lago is "You do not talk about the boxes."

Assuming ABC's reporting is correct, and assuming Michael's account is truthful (both pretty reasonable assumptions), then that seven-word sentence is a double whammy for Trump. First, it makes it 100% clear he knew he was doing something illegal. Second, it is a textbook case of trying to obstruct justice. We're not the only ones who think so. Elie Honig thinks so. Chris Christie thinks so. Chris Timmons thinks so. Unlike us, all three of those men have spent considerable time as federal prosecutors. So, they presumably know what they are talking about.

Trump isn't the only person in his orbit who isn't having a great week, incidentally. Jeff Clark, the low-level DoJ attorney who nearly parlayed his rear-end-kissing skills into becoming the most powerful law enforcement officer in the land, is making a longshot attempt at getting his case moved from Georgia to federal court. Unlike Mark Meadows, however, Clark did not bother to show up for the hearing in person, and did not testify. Consequently, the judge rejected two pro-Clark sworn declarations, one from Clark himself, and one from Ronald Reagan AG Ed Meese, who is, to our surprise, still alive (it seemed like he was in his seventies way back in the eighties).

On the other hand, Judge Steve Jones, who seems to be involved in nearly every high-profile federal case in Georgia, did hear in-person testimony from former Trump DOJ Civil Division Chief Jody Hunt, who was called by Fulton County DA Fani Willis to testify that trying to overthrow elections is not part of the normal duties of a DoJ environmental lawyer. Jones has not ruled yet, but he does not seem likely to grant Clark's request to move the trial.

The third, and final, person who's not having a good week so far is Rudy Giuliani. His now-former lawyers, from the firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, just sued him for unpaid legal fees. It would seem that America's Former Mayor has paid $214,000 toward his bill, but he still owes an eye-watering $1,360,196. The lawyer who actually did most of that work, Robert Costello, is a long-time friend of Giuliani's. Or he was; they're now trading pot-shots, so they presumably won't be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

It is not looking probable that the lawyers, or anyone else, will get all (or even most) of the money Giuliani owes them. Political reporter Andrew Kirtzman, who has been on the Giuliani beat for decades, and who has written two biographies of the man, went on TV yesterday to point out how very many legal quagmires Giuliani has gotten himself into in recent years: four investigations (three criminal), nearly a dozen civil suits, and two disbarment hearings. He's already paid out a bundle in settlements, and he's likely to owe much more to Dominion Voting Systems, the two poll workers in Georgia (Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss), and the (theoretical) army of attorneys he's going to need in Georgia and elsewhere. Kirtzman believes that due to his legal troubles, and his various divorces, and his long-time profligate lifestyle ($250,000/month), Giuliani is "penniless." He may be able to sell some assets and scrape together some of the money he needs (he put his $6 million condo up for sale), but his means are nowhere near enough to take care of most of his debts, both currently existing and future. No wonder Davidoff Hutcher & Citron filed now; those at the front of the line have a slightly better chance at a recovery than those at the back.

And that's the latest on the Trump legal front. Undoubtedly there will be more soon. (Z)

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