UPDATE (June 9, 2023, 10:49 a.m. ET): A federal grand jury in Florida indicted Donald Trump on Thursday on seven charges, including conspiracy to obstruct, NBC News reported.
Deadline: Legal Blog readers know by now that Donald Trump’s classified documents situation is different from other, less serious cases in which charges weren’t warranted. But a recent social media post from the former president suggests he still doesn’t want to grasp the distinction ahead of potentially being charged in special counsel Jack Smith's probe, which seems increasingly likely.
“JOE BIDEN WON’T BE CHARGED FOR ANYTHING," Trump wrote on his Truth Social website. “CROOKED HILLARY ... WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO BEING CHARGED! ONLY TRUMP — THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!”
But one of the many differences between Trump, on the one hand, and President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton on the other, can be boiled down to one issue: possible obstruction. That’s why then-FBI Director James Comey, in explaining the decision not to charge Clinton in 2016, noted that charges have come in cases with “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice.”
While some or all of those things may be present in Trump's case, the government didn't find them with Clinton and likely won’t either with Biden, whose investigation is ongoing. The probe into former Vice President Mike Pence, which appeared much closer to Biden’s than Trump's in terms of potential criminal exposure, recently ended without charges. Based on the known facts — which, again, feature cooperation with the government as opposed to repeated apparent obstruction — expect a similar conclusion to the Biden probe.
But if Trump is charged, prepare to hear false comparisons to other, less serious cases. And know the difference.