When Michael Sussmann was on trial in the Durham case, the narrative they spun was that he was working on behalf of FusionGPS for the Clinton campaign, because the Clinton campaign knew how apt Donald Trump was to sue, and they needed to be ready in case they had to defend one of their claims in court.
They went on to list out dozens and dozens of lawsuits that President Trump had filed as one of the most "litigious" men on the planet. So, it's interesting now for all of them to be criticizing the fact that President Trump has been absolutely mum on the still sealed case pertaining to the raid on Mar-A-Lago.
Many of the pundits (on both the right and the left) have been spinning their wheels and blaming utter incompetence on behalf of the former President. John Solomon has openly questioned why he hasn't filed any privilege claims or taken any action on the effort to unseal the affidavit in the case. The more left-leaning media and punditry have taken to highlighting the fact that no one wants to come within 10 feet of the former President any longer, and the team he does have are fools who haven't ever dealt with something so serious. Even Alan Dershowitz, while talking about how he hasn't been asked to help on the case, has stated that Trump needs some major legal chops to navigate this hell hole about to ensue. All of that may be correct; that Trump is suddenly absolutely clueless in the courts, that he doesn't understand what he is up against, that he is a fish out of water. It *may* be correct, but we'd have to be in some other dimension for it to be true. Instead, I believe it's a careful strategy. Here's why.
I am not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV, but I have spent more than two decades in politics and more time in court dockets than the most ambitious law student, so I think I have some standing. Objections overruled.
Let's first take the unsealing of the affidavit. President Trump, masterfully using Truth Social to telegraph his statements to the world, has told everyone that he is for the total and complete unsealing of the affidavit, without redaction and immediately. All of the lefty pundits and media-obsessed conspiracy theorists on the left (who followed all of us dirty unwashed to Truth once we were banned from Twitter, just because they can't get enough) are doing screen grabs of Trump's Truths and then sharing them on Twitter anyway. Mission accomplished.
So the entire world knows that President Trump wants the damn thing unsealed. I see the usual criticizers yelling, "how on earth is he not in court asking for the affidavit to be unsealed?!" I am sitting back, grinning. Every media organization in the United States has filed on this lawsuit for the release of this affidavit. Rather than a blunder, ponder this as a strategic move. Why should he also file? Not entering on the case does a few things:
One, it allows for the judge to rule in favor of the legacy media instead of in favor of Trump. It's likely the judge wouldn't want to hand him a perceived "win," given his known bias.
Two, it allows Trump to sit back and maintain status as a "victim" while the rest of the world fights (unwittingly) on his behalf.
Three, it allows him to focus his team on more important legal matters that may be afoot.
Four, it saves him money; and
Five, it allows the team to watch what arguments work best for this judge and how he rules from the bench while we are aware he has the bias mentioned above. The judge is establishing his baseline right now.
Trump has maintained he has nothing to hide. Just like during the Mueller probe, he is advocating STRONGLY for transparency here and isn't worried about the outcome should they unseal the affidavit. Here's a potential reason why:
When the media "coalition" filed in response to the government's argument to keep the entire affidavit sealed, they mentioned how widely reported everything supposedly contained within it already was. Of course, the media had received these leaks from the very same sanctimonious justice department that vowed they do everything by the book. Merrick Garland told us how above board the DOJ was as stories about Trump hiding the nuclear codes in the papers peppered the airwaves. That "nuclear codes" theory has been so utterly destroyed that we won't even bother touching upon it here. But the point is, the media put all of their talking points into their court filing as evidence that "Hey, the DOJ has already leaked us all of this anyway, so what do they really have to lose giving us the rest?"
I made a point to say (on Truth Social) that the media really believes the leaks they got from their colleagues and coworkers at the DOJ and in the intelligence community. That is to say, they think that the affidavit really does contain details of these potential listed reasons for the raid, or they know they've been lied to and want the actual story. In placing these talking points in their filing, they are attempting to pin down the DOJ and get to the heart of the matter.
I think they believe the DOJ has leaked them the truth and are just salivating on what else they can pull from the affidavit. This would likely backfire. Remember how "beneficial" the Steele Dossier was until Buzzfeed went and leaked the whole thing and everyone could see for themselves how ridiculous it was? It doesn't seem they learn.
And alas, Christina Bobb, one of Trump's attorneys who was at the raid, attended as an observer from the galley during the Thursday hearing, soaked it all in, and watched the legacy media "coalition" argue VOCIFEROUSLY for transparency in this instance. The government is shaking in their boots. The judge agreed with the media.
It would be silly for me to sit here and cite all of the past examples of the government lying in warrant applications and affidavits (think Crossfire Hurricane, General Flynn, Joshua Adam Schulte, and the list goes on), so I won't. Just be aware that this Justice Department hasn't been honest in a legal document when it comes to Trump in 7 years. They always make something up, rely on a source they know is bunk, change emails to suit them, etc. For goodness sakes, they were told to look in a safe for something specific, and the safe was EMPTY. What does it say about the credibility of your "leaker who is intimately familiar with the Trump family and on the inside" when the one place they've told you to look is literally EMPTY and instead, you are rifling through the former First Ladies underwear drawer?
And, that brings us to the second thing that has a lot of folks both in and outside of Trump world either mad, terrified, nervous, or all of the above. President Trump hasn't filed on the case (or anywhere) to demand they return privileged materials, or demand they return things they shouldn't have, or demand they answer for why their search was so broad, or demand a filter team, or demand anything for that matter.
So, does this mean that suddenly Trump is legally incompetent, is completely blowing his own defense, or is in over his head? Just a fish out of water floundering around with an inept legal team and no idea what to do?
I think not. The same people who pointed out the 7 THOUSAND lawsuits Trump has filed in the past however many years, want you to believe he's just outmatched here. I tend to think differently.
Why file anything? What if he isn't worried about what they took? What if using the media to make them look like fools (THEY STOLE MY PASSPORTS!!) is better than actually letting a biased judge decide things for him? What if there's really nothing there at all, he knows it, and is taking a very hands-off approach to see what their first move will be? What if using the court of public opinion right now is the only court Trump really needs?
To start scrambling about, worrying and trying to take back from the DOJ all they have taken from Mar-A-Lago at this juncture would give everyone fodder to think he was hiding something. It doesn't seem he is or that he is particularly worried that they are going to have anything actionable. If his attorneys were furiously filing on the docket for a SEARCH WARRANT, that still literally is marked SEALED (the party isn't even visible to an outside observer), or better still, if they took preemptive action and sued the DOJ now in the warm-up phase, what would the wave of media that followed look like? Especially if, as he says, he has done nothing wrong?
I am a realist. I am the one who calls it like I see it. You can look back to my reporting about the Sussmann case, or the Danchenko case, or the Clinton email server and see that I am not a "Trump is playing 5-d chess" adherent. I call balls and strikes. It seems to me right now that President Trump is sitting back and letting his adversary make all the moves, while also using that same adversary to fight his battles for him. He is saving resources and strategically moving so that when the time comes that he does need to strike, he will be doing so with their playbook in his hands. It remains to be seen what the next chapter in the battle is, but Donald Trump is well versed in the "Art of War."