Fox News legal analyst Jonathan Turley on Tuesday called the indictment of former President Donald Trump on charges of mishandling classified information “extremely damaging” and a “hit below the waterline.”
Turley spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity about the indictment, which was unsealed on Monday. The indictment charges Trump with five counts of mishandling classified information, including one count of “willfully and unlawfully” removing and retaining classified documents from the White House.
“This is an extremely damaging indictment,” Turley said. “It’s a hit below the waterline. It’s not a knockout punch, but it’s a significant blow,” according to The Independent.
Turley noted that the indictment includes a number of damning allegations, including that Trump took classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago resort and that he showed them to people who did not have security clearances.
Turley later: “It’s really breathtaking. Obviously, this is mishandling, you know, putting classified documents into ballrooms and bathrooms is — it borders on the bizarre. … the visual and audio tape evidence is really daunting” pic.twitter.com/7ElFhW5H7l
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) June 9, 2023
“These are the types of pictures that hit you below the waterline in a trial,” Turley said. “It’s hard to show a picture of these boxes surrounding a toilet and saying ‘we really acted responsibly.'”
Turley said that the Trump legal team has a “tough road ahead” in trying to defend the former president against the charges.
“The government is bringing dozens of counts – they only have to land one of those punches,” Turley said. “Keep in mind that every one of these counts is coming with a substantial potential sentence.”
Turley said that the Trump legal team will likely argue that the former president did not intend to mishandle classified information and that he was simply trying to keep his records safe.
“But the government is going to argue that intent is not necessary,” Turley said. “They’re going to argue that the law is clear that you can’t mishandle classified information, regardless of your intent.”
Turley said that the outcome of the case could have a significant impact on the 2024 presidential election.
“If Trump is convicted, it’s going to be very difficult for him to run for president in 2024,” Turley said. “But if he’s acquitted, it’s going to be a huge boost to his campaign.”
The case is expected to go to trial later this year.