In the title, there are some quite profane words I’d like to use before the word “sick” but imagine a Marine grunt griping with comrades in the middle of nowhere in miserable conditions and the language we’d use.

INTENT.

I keep hearing it from talking heads and especially legal talking heads.  Lawyers including and especially prosecutors, many of whom have tried some big, well-known cases carry on, usually in mournful tones about how hard it will be to convict Trump because of “Intent.”  As in proving it.  WTF?

Again and again I find myself thankful for two things.  First is that I’m seeing/hearing them on TV and not in the same room with them.  Second, that I have enough common sense not to, if I were in the room with them smash them in the mouth with my fist.  That would be illegal, however justified I might feel it would be in the moment.  And you know what?  Since I’m just some regular guy who’d never be able to afford a great lawyer INTENT, as in did I simply lose control “for just a few seconds”, or maybe “just meant to scare them by punching past their head but since I’m prone to falls lost my balance and accidently hit them” wouldn’t factor into it.  Not  For  One  Second.  It would be assumed by LE, a prosecutor and the “victim” that I had “evil in my heart” before they opened their mouth and intended to severely harm them.  A variation on the “intent travels with the bullet” that is applied to all but the rich/powerful in some shootings – in this case it would be “intent traveled with the fist.”

Like everyone else I know, and in my six and a  half decades seen for myself there are two different legal standards, two systems of justice in this country.  One for the very rich and powerful/connected and another & much less forgiving one for the rest of us.  By “rest of us” I mean ninety-five percent (if not more) of us!

The classified documents case is as straightforward as it gets.  Intent?  Give me an effing break!  Part of what the jury system has, even before we became our own country designed to do is to have a jury of one’s peer, people from the community listen to the evidence and apply the law as given to them by the judge in jury instructions.  Part of that evidence is testimony, if not from criminal defendants themselves (and they can’t have not testifying held against them) then from others who witnessed things, or have been called to explain what happened and when, who allegedly did/said what and various exhibits.  For example documents with various security classifications up to the very highest level stamped in BIG RED BLOCK LETTERS on every single page.  And the cover folder/sheet!

Lawyers for both the prosecutor and defense argue their respective cases – the quality and or relevance of the evidence presented and when the evidence is witness testimony or expert testimony the credibility of the witness(s).  And in a larger sense the credibility of the lawyers for each side, especially their opening and closing arguments.  Juries aren’t made up of lawyers only, they are made up of a mix of people who are expected to bring some regular person common sense to judging the credibility of each side’s case, their evidence and witnesses!

“Intent” my a$$.  Any non-orange Kool-Aid chugging MAGA goober knows damn well that Trump knew those documents weren’t his to do with as he pleased including STEALING them and then after being politely asked to give them back shot the folks in DC a “double bird” and for good measure turned around, dropped his pants and mooned them with his big orange butt.

“Oh, but Intent is sooooooo crucial and sooooooo hard to prove” the legal talking heads claim in unison from their fainting couches.   I know for a fact that if say (as I sometimes saw because I was part of it) some enlisted puke, officer below the grade of Col./(Navy) Captain or civilian employee so much as left a Top Secret Document on their desk or in a drawer instead of locking it back up in one of the secure file cabinets or safe, even though the office space itself was secure and had not just a “rocker switch” to punch in an access code during working hours, but a combination lock on the door when the last person left for the day here’s what would happen.

We’d seal up the document(s) in a big manila envelope(s).  Sign our names across where it was sealed to prove no one messed with it before the powers-that-be read the Incident report on where and when it was found, and FIRST thing when the offender arrived they’d be summoned.  Their Security Clearance would be revoked on the spot.  They’d be read their rights and a formal investigation (Article 32 for those subject to the UCMJ, a different procedure for civilians) as a prelude to criminal charges being filed.  BOOM.  Career over.  A federal conviction and possibly, if not likely at least some jail time.

Ok, so rich/powerful people including folks in the military who wear stars get some special consideration.  David Petraeus comes to mind.  (He pled guilty to sharing some classified information with his biographer with whom he also was having an affair.  He got two years probation.  But it seems he didn’t take home and share Top Secret/SCI stuff with her either)  It’s not fair, but that’s how things are.  Still, doing what Trump did was intentional.

I can guarantee you he was properly briefed during his transition.  In In fact once nominated as is custom with major Party candidates he started getting partial access to classified information – and would have been briefed on how things worked.  All joking about his “very fine brain” aside again, ANY person of even below average intelligence would understand what was conveyed in those briefings.  Admittedly I don’t know if procedure requires they sign a statement after such initial briefings that they’ve received and understood things, but I’ll guarantee those who did the security briefings signed documentation that they had taken place!

Add to that Trump’s well known habit of taking things up to the WH residence, again a huge no-no and I believe reporting that Priebus, Kelley and others told him he wasn’t allowed to do that, President or not.  (I wonder if Smith has called them into the grand jury?)

I’m not saying intent never matters.  For example let’s say two guys from the same small town that have known each other for years even though they were a year or two apart in school get into a bar fight.  Both are drunk and the fight is over something stupid like who is the best basketball player of all time.  One of them lands a one in a million punch that lands so hard the other guy is knocked out and strikes his head on the edge of the bar falling.  The force causes massive bleeding in the brain and he dies.  Tragic and stupidly so but murder?  Or even manslaughter.  Now say the same two drunks get into a bar fight, but the guy who started it went to the bar looking for the other guy.  The other guy had dated the instigator’s wife/girlfriend years earlier and they were seen talking somewhere.  No big deal but the dude starts thinking the woman still has the hots for him and starts going around saying so.  And her current guy gets wind of it and goes to the bar intending the beat that dude within an inch of his life.  If he told others before heading to the bar, and/or even said it when he went in and confronted his “rival” then intent does come into play and at the least manslaughter charges are in order.

But the documents case?  Trump had a well established history of ignoring procedures, regulations and even the law.   NONE of what he ordered packed up was his to take classified or not.  He’d been briefed on the duty to have Presidential records and other things handed over to the National Archives.  So don’t anyone say he didn’t intend to take stuff, a LOT of stuff that wasn’t his.  And there were documents with classification markings both in the residence and the Oval Office as he was barking orders to gather it all into boxes and get those boxes on the truck!

Common sense.

What objective juror would use plain old common sense and assign zero credibility to the “he didn’t REALLY know he wasn’t supposed to do it” argument.  Add in all that happened afterwards, how Trump fought every bit of the way to keep that stuff, had electronic COPIES made (also a felony both on is part and his tech guy who followed the orders) and even obstructed justice by committing new crimes to try and fake out the government that all had been returned.  And that’s just what we know about!  Intent?  Trump has in recent times been boasting he had every right to even the classified material.

Intent?  I’ll say it again – any objective juror can see intent all over the place?  The fact charges haven’t already been filed is a lack of guts.  Yeah, I said it.  I do think Smith will soon, but even though I’m not a lawyer I know what a Superseding Indictment is.  Smith has reverted to a a degree to typical federal prosecutor mode – wanting to make sure every single possible crime has been fully discovered and investigated so it all can be presented.  Guess what?   Sometimes in big, far more complicated cases new stuff comes up as trial approaches.  People decide to approach prosecutors and seek a deal because crunch time is coming and they don’t like the odds.  And new crimes & evidence come to light.  Hence Superseding Indictments.

But for god’s sake all  you legal talking eagles grow a freaking spine.  Stop fussing and whining over intent.  It’s TRUMP’S lawyer’s job to try and muddy the waters with that argument.  You talking heads have talked the issue to death, including maybe the death of the case because you’ve sowed doubt in the public’s mind!  You talk about intent, and the “burden” of overcoming it in this case as though filing charges due to “doubt about intent” is the equivalent of some grunt who’s unit is pinned down by murderous machine gun fire and to save comrades decides to sacrifice their life by pulling the pin on a grenade and charging the machine gun nest trying to get close enough to throw said grenade into it!

If in the face of all we know, and knowing there’s a mountain of solid evidence yet to be heard ANY prosecutor is fearful of filing charges they should resign.  In disgrace.  To use a crude, old-fashioned saying “Sh*t or get off the pot!”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Agree completely. Who cares what trump’s state of mind or intent were. He’s a grown-up and had dozens of legal specialists at the White House who could advise him on document handling protocols and restrictions. He’s been coddled his entire life and has learned to shield himself from responsibility for his actions by transferring risk to his subordinates. He’s savvy enough to avoid paper trails and emails, and he must have understood that taking highly restricted documents from the White House was a serious crime. Here’s a guy who makes all his employees sign NDAs to control the flow of information out of his life, yet he handled the most sensitive information of the country with reckless disregard. I think his intent was to monetize or otherwise exploit the information he stole, but even if he didn’t, he should be prosecuted to the limit.

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    • The lawyers, both those prosecuting and those “punditing” are smarter than I am. But my higher education was Psychology and from both education and life I know a thing or two about tunnel vision AND that it can be difficult when caught up in a fast-paced, high stress situation to step back and see the overall picture. I say that because it just hit me (due to a comment I heard from someone on MSNBC today using the word motive and that it’s nice to have but not essential to winning a conviction) that these lawyers are co-mingling Intent and Motive.

      WHY Trump INTENDED to and did transport those documents to FL (and Bedminster? Trump Tower even?) whether for money (selling them to the Saudis, Russia etc.) or for leverage (come after me and I’ll F**k over everyone and blow a bunch of assets) matters but it’s the INTENT to take them, that it wasn’t some accident those documents were STOLEN but that it was on purpose that matters. THAT element of the crime is provable, and since he can’t STFU Trump keeps on proving it.

      I hope tomorrow, or at least very soon that one pundit’s comment about motive will get spread around and it will get talked about more – with the point being made Intent is proven and not to go confusing it with motive, which yes juries like to have but have proven over and over isn’t necessary to convict someone.

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  2. Yet again, great points Denis, but EDIT. I love reading your pieces but you tend to rant and repeat.
    I’m totally with you though with your basic premises. I’m so sick of tRump I could scream but he is coming down and the more he bleats and blabs on social media – the better.
    thanks

  3. Speeding is still against the law whether your intent is to speed or not. Same thing with accidents (except in no-fault states).

    There have been a couple of times where I have looked down at my speedometer and realized I was above the speed limit and didn’t know.

    People still get speeding tickets when their intent is not to speed and they weren’t paying attention.

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