Donald Trump’s lawyer says classified nuclear documents were ‘mementos’

Gun Rights

Top secret documents which Donald Trump stored in his Mar-a-Lago resort were just “mementos” one of his lawyers said as his legal team began formulating his defence.

Alina Habba insisted he had done nothing wrong and would not take a plea deal to lower a possible prison sentence.

Mr Trump is due to appear before a Miami federal court on Tuesday to face 37 charges, including breaches of the Espionage Act.

“He would never admit guilt, because there was nothing wrong with declassifying documents,” she told Fox News Sunday, offering a possible window into the Trump camp’s court plans.

“He has every right to have classified documents that he declassified… things that are mementos, things that he has a right to take.

“So if I’m someone with documents that I have a right to have as the president who left the White House, do I want people rummaging through my personal items? No.”

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It came as Bill Barr, who was Mr Trump’s attorney general, warned that if even half the indictment is true “then he’s toast”.

“Yes, he’s been a victim in the past. Yes, his adversaries have obsessively pursued him with phoney claims, and I’ve been at his side defending against them when he is a victim.”

The former president hit back at Mr Barr in a radio interview with supporter Roger Stone.

“This thing is a disgrace and virtually everybody other than a low life like Bill Barr — who I, as you know, I terminated because he was gutless, he wouldn’t do what you’re supposed to do — but everybody says this is a disgraceful indictment. It shouldn’t happen,” he said.

Fears of political violence

It came after hard-line Trump supporters mounted an angry defence of the former president, rekindling fears of political violence should he be convicted.

“If you want to get to president Trump, you are going to have to go through me, and you are going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me,” said Kari Lake, the influential Republican who was defeated in the race to become governor of Arizona.

“And I’m going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA (National Rifle Association),” she added.

Christopher Galdieri, professor of politics at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire told The Telegraph the potential for violence should not be discounted.

“I think we have to take them seriously.

“I think Kari Lake is overestimating the number of Americans who would take up arms, but there’s no doubt there are folks who would.”

“You never heard this from supporters of Ronald Reagan, who won 49 states when he was re-elected. You hear this from folks who can’t achieve their goals any other way.”

Trump leads over DeSantis

The latest polls show the indictment has not damaged Mr Trump’s standing among Republican voters.

A CBS-YouGov poll showed he still had a commanding lead over his main rival for the nomination, Florida governor Ron DeSantis with 61 per cent of Republicans saying they would back him in a primary.

But among voters as a whole, the picture was less encouraging with 48 per cent saying it was right to charge the former president – even if 47 per cent said the indictment was politically motivated.

A Morning Consult poll showed both Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis narrowly trailing Joe Biden in a presidential election.

The indictment brought by Department of Justice special counsel, Jack Smith, is widening the rift in an already divided Republican party. GOP faithful lined up on either side to defend or attack the former president on Sunday.

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Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator, described the charges as “ridiculous”.

“We live in a world where it takes four years to investigate Hunter Biden and you can go after Donald Trump in about 18 months,” he said.

“I think Donald Trump is stronger today politically than he was before.”

And Jim Jordan, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said as president, Mr Trump had the right to classify – or declassify – whatever he wished.

“He can put it wherever he wants, he can handle it however he wants,” he told CNN on Sunday.

Asa Hutchinson, Republican presidential candidate and Trump critic, disagreed. “We do not need to have our commander in chief of this country, not protecting our nation’s secrets,” he told CNN.

“If these allegations and probable cause have been found against any military person or any public servant that wasn’t named Donald Trump, they would have been indicted a long time ago.”

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