‘Indictment May be Imminent’: Experts Read Tea Leaves in Trump Lawyers’ Letter to Garland

An ex-Mueller prosecutor said the Trump lawyers' letter is "an obvious precursor to a federal indictment of a former president of the United States."

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Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers requested a meeting with the Department of Justice in a letter earlier this week – a move that suggests an indictment in the DOJ’s case could happen soon, legal experts told The Messenger.

The letter accused the DOJ of treating Trump “unfairly,” especially compared to the way the department has handled investigations into Hunter Biden. It was brief – barely a paragraph long – and has little legal significance, but is noteworthy in what it suggests about the state of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation, experts said.

“In conjunction with WSJ reporting that Special Counsel Jack Smith has concluded the investigative phase of his Mar-a-Lago probe, it suggests that an indictment may be imminent,” said Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“The letter, while childish and intemperate, is an obvious precursor to a federal indictment of a former president of the United States,” added Andrew Weissmann, a former lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s special counsel’s Office.

A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

The letter from the ex-president's lawyers raised eyebrows because it was sent shortly after The Wall Street Journal reported that Special Counsel Smith is wrapping up his investigation into the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. 

It also has little legal force, experts told The Messenger. In a “Messenger Scale” survey on Thursday, The Messenger’s panel of experts scored the letter a 3.7 out of 10 when asked to size up its overall significance.

“The requested meeting with Garland, though interesting to those following the case closely, is only a procedural issue and does not really affect the matter substantively one way or the other. Parties often request meetings with one another in cases of this sort,” said Steven Groves, a former Trump White House spokesman and Heritage Institute fellow.

Noah Bookbinder, president of the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sued Trump shortly after he became president, agreed.

“The request itself seems like a pretty standard tactic from criminal defense attorneys in a white collar case, so I'm not sure the substance is all that significant.” said Bookbinder. “What it says about his lawyers' sense of the investigation seems telling.”

Following the FBI's execution of a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022, Garland in November appointed Smith to lead investigations into Trump's handling of confidential presidential files that were found the Florida resort, as well as the former president's role in the events surrounding the transition in power to the Biden administration.

Tim Parlatore, one of the former president's attorneys representing him in connection with the Mar-a-Lago investigation, said last week that he had left the legal team amid infighting among Trump attorneys.

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