Trump Confessed to Crimes During CNN Town Hall: Harvard Law Professor

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Donald Trump dug himself a deeper hole during the CNN town hall as it pertains to Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into his alleged mishandling of documents, according to Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.

CNN has received quite a bit of flack since providing the 2024 Republican front-runner with airtime Wednesday at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, as he spoke in front of a live audience composed essentially of 2024 GOP presidential primary voters.

During the approximate 75-minute back and forth, Trump went into more detail about his mindset regarding the classified documents that were discovered August 8 during an FBI raid of his private Mar-a-Lago residence.

Trump’s CNN performance was one long series of confessions, strongly accelerating Special Counsel Smith’s timeline toward multiple indictments — Laurence Tribe 🇺🇦 ⚖️ (@tribelaw) May 12, 2023

"Trump's CNN performance was one long series of confessions, strongly accelerating Special Counsel Smith's timeline toward multiple indictments," Tribe tweeted Friday.

Smith is not just investigating whether Trump obstructed the government's attempts to recover said documents, but also his role in what led to the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.

Donald Trump speaks during a press conference following his court appearance over an alleged 'hush-money' payment, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 4, 2023. Trump's comments during his Wednesday CNN town hall regarding his alleged mishandling of classified documents could provide special counsel Jack Smith with more legal firepower, legal experts say. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

"I had in mind the way CNN's fake town hall gave Trump a platform to praise the insurrectionists as 'great people'; to pledge that he would pardon 'a large portion' of them who are serving time; and to make clear that he fully intended the violent attack on the Capitol and on Mike Pence that his remarks incited, refusing to express regret even for having endangered his vice president's very life," Tribe told Newsweek via email Friday.

"Those remarks filled any remaining gaps in the proof of Trump's intent to foment what the law defines as an insurrection," he added. "In addition, Trump's admission that he wanted to exploit Pence's role by working with the fake electors and his lawyers to prevent the electoral votes actually cast on December 14 [2020] from being counted amounts to a confession of seditious conspiracy in the form of an attempted coup."

Trump on Wednesday told town hall host Kaitlan Collins he took the documents and was "allowed to," adding that he had "the absolute right" to do so under the Presidential Records Act—a post-Watergate scandal law in existence since 1978.

"When we left Washington, we had the boxes lined up on the sidewalk outside for everybody," Trump said. "People are taking pictures of them. Everybody knew we were taking those boxes."

On the same topic, when asked if he had ever shown classified documents to anyone after leaving the White House, Trump said, "Not really." He clarified his response by saying, "Not that I can think of."

Trump's statements, including that he "automatically" declassified all of the classified materials upon leaving the White House, were defended by his campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung.

"Every president who leaves the White House is allowed to take their papers and belongings with them," Cheung told the New York Times. "President Trump followed this longstanding tradition. Because it was totally appropriate, the move happened in the light of day and was broadly reported."

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner said during his Justice Matters podcast on Thursday that Trump made "directly incriminating" statements—predicting that some of them will be part of a federal trial resulting from Smith's investigation.

In March, a three-judge panel from The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the efforts of Trump and his attorney, Evan Corcoran, to cease the turning over of said documents and other communications as part of Smith's investigation.

"Somebody probably should have pulled Donald Trump aside and said, 'You know, sport, you have the right to remain silent,'" Kirschner said. "Donald Trump gave prosecutors and plaintiffs some directly incriminating and actionable evidence."

Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's Morning Joe said Friday that Trump's "arrogance" compounded by various statements—including more possibly defamatory comments about E. Jean Carroll one day after she was awarded $5 million in defamation charges—will hurt him politically, financially and legally.

"That town hall meeting ended up being costly for a lot of people," Scarborough said. "It's gonna be especially costly politically, and going to be costly economically for Donald Trump—and legally in a criminal sense—because I think he gave Jack Smith just what he wanted.

"So, I hope getting a couple of people in the audience who were laughing and cheering when he insulted the host, when he insulted E. Jean Carroll, I hope that was worth it for him because it's going to cost him a lot."

Ardent supporters of the former president, including politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, said Trump "destroyed" CNN. Trump, however, attempted to pacify his base by saying the network gave him a "forum to tell the truth."

Update 05/12/23, 1:29 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from Laurence Tribe.

Land_of_awz on May 13rd, 2023 at 18:55 UTC »

He probably thinks “Miranda Rights” is just another woman trying to sue him for sexual assault

mdoktor on May 13rd, 2023 at 18:29 UTC »

He confesses to crimes like every other time he speaks publicly

QuarantineCam on May 13rd, 2023 at 18:15 UTC »

Yes, he did. Thank you. I know a lot of people are upset with the timing, the platform, the fact that CNN hosted it in the first place(and it seems it really was just about the ratings in the end - shame on you CNN) gave Trump the ability to go on LIVE TV and utilize language on multiple occasions on multiple fronts that can be taken as admissions. He has not been of sound mind in probably his entire life but it may be that the gears in that twisted mind are finally wearing out. Multiple DA’s are going to be pulling clips from this town hall to present as evidence in their cases against Trump.