According to an article published in the Washington Post earlier this week, federal agents and prosecutors have not found any apparent business interests represented in the classified information found in documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence back in August. The Post citied people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. According to those people, neither the documents nor FBI interviews point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets.
“Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property,” the Post wrote, adding “Trump’s motive for allegedly taking and keeping classified documents was largely his ego and a desire to hold on to the materials as trophies or mementos.”
In a literal sense, business interests or other potential motives are not an element of determining whether former President Trump or anyone around him committed a crime or should be charged with one over the Mar-a-Lago documents. However, as a practical matter, motive is an important part of how prosecutors assess cases.
“It makes perfect sense as to why prosecutors would be spending time scouring through the various records and documents to look for some kind of pattern or theme to explain why certain records were kept and why others were not,” former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz told the Post. “In presenting a case to a jury, prosecutors typically want to explain the motive for committing a crime. It’s not necessary to prove a crime, but it helps tell the story of exactly how a crime unfolded.”
According to court documents, the Justice Department has been investigating Trump and his advisers for three potential crimes: mishandling of national security secrets, obstruction and destruction of government records. The investigation will likely bleed into Trump’s run for president in 2024, announced the day after the Post report came out.