When This Is The Best Defense Turley Can Raise, Things Are Really Bad

I mean, really, really, really bad for the former President and his legal team.

This... is not a good defense.

Earlier this morning, I provided some analysis about the DOJ filing in response to the Special Master request made by the Trump law team. The tl;dr is that it contains a lot of damning evidence (in particular for members of Trump’s legal team who could easily be indicted based on the facts presented by the Justice Department). While we wait for the legal team’s response, it’s worth seeing what defenses, if any, were brought by the President’s supporters. Always one to rise to the task, noted “liberal” Trump support Lawyer Jonathon Turley, has opted for a unique take.

So, the best defense is that… an evidence photo of a box and extracted documents… with a clearly identified evidence marker… will somehow make people think that this is the way the documents were stored?!

Ironically, given the presence of documents with classification markings on them in a desk draw in Trump’s office (outside of the famed “storage room”) and intermingled with his passports and other personal documents, that “analysis” might be truer than Turley himself realizes. [Update: reviewing the DOJ filing, these were in fact some of the documents that were taken from Trump’s office. And note the framed “Time” magazine cover in the box, again highlighting the intermingling aspect of all of this].

Despite his behavior in recent years, Turley is still considered in some circles to be a gifted and thoughtful lawyer. All, I can say is, if at first glance, this is the strongest defense he can come up with in the face of that filing, then things are far worse for the Trump team than even I initially suspected.

PS: I for one am definitely looking forward to noted “anti-anti-Trump” defender Glenn Greenwald’s “I don’t support Trump but here is how he, an innocent man I do not support, is being criminally railroaded” take on this.

PPS. Please feel free to use the comments to share the best “defenses” you see or come up with on your own!

[Update: 8/31 12:50pm ET]

So, um… apparently this line of defense really is the only thing that they have:

Please remember that tweet the next time someone tries to argue that York is a “sane” Republican commentator.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, National Security, The Presidency, US Politics, , ,
Matt Bernius
About Matt Bernius
Matt Bernius is a design researcher working to create more equitable government systems and experiences. He's currently a Principal User Researcher on Code for America's "GetCalFresh" program, helping people apply for SNAP food benefits in California. Prior to joining CfA, he worked at Measures for Justice and at Effective, a UX agency. Matt has an MA from the University of Chicago.


  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Still, it depends on who the audience is. The audience in question is amenable to the parallel argument now; that

    Ironically, given the presence of documents with classification markings on them in a desk draw in Trump’s office (outside of the famed “storage room”) and intermingled with his passports and other personal documents,

    means that they were also staged by the FBI.

    But yeah, things are worse for FG’s team than anyone imagines. I wish I believe that fact was important but remain unconvinced. FG’s not gonna be tried, and 47% of voters (maybe more) are still gonna vote for him if he runs in 2024. 🙁

  2. CSK says:

    Trump has already proposed Turley’s “explanation” and it’s being echoed all over the crackpot pro-Trump blogs.

    I suppose none of them noticed the evidence markers.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    FG’s not gonna be tried

    I’m not sure – this filing certainly looks like they are headed that way.
    This is such an open and shut case that it’s gotta be hard to resist if you are a decent lawyer.
    All of the difficulties of winning the January 6th cases are absent here.
    And the former guy doesn’t help himself by shooting his fat mouth off all the time.

  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Hey, as the Fox News “serious journalist” noted, “their job is to lie and plant evidence.”

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Still, I will refrain from holding my breath waiting for it to happen. I have COPD and my respiration isn’t what it used to be.

  6. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Ah, yes. That was the inimitable Jesse Watters, was it not?

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Shorter Turley: “How dare the FBI and DOJ push back against trump’s lies with highly prejudicial photographic proof!”

  8. Jen says:

    They really are talking to the dumbest of the dumb if they think “these weren’t on the floor, the FBI PUT THEM THERE” is a defense of any kind.

    My favorite response on Twitter thus far to this argument is “when you see pictures of confiscated drugs on a table at a police station, is that where you think they were found?”

    Wow, I mean just WOW that this is what they are going with. Yeesh.

  9. Jen says:
  10. CSK says:

    Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba is really on a roll.

    She says the DOJ is persecuting Trump for “mundane crimes” such as espionage and obstruction.

    She also says she searched everywhere in Mar-a-Lago for the documents and found absolutely nothing that the FBI later found there.

  11. CSK says:

    Whoops. You beat me to one of them, anyway.

  12. JohnSF says:

    Best defence competition:

    “I was getting ready to leave the White House – which by way, I shouldn’t have had to as I had won!
    When this guy came up to me, real big guy, tears in his eyes, says to me,
    “Mr President, sir, Sleepy Joe he’s all in with deep state antifa types and crooked Hillary. They gonna take all our secrets and put them on Hunter Biden’s laptop for the Chinese!”
    Well, so naturally I took them with me.
    I declassified them, so I could, OK?
    I was keeping them safe, as I’m the real President anyway, and it’s totally cool. Bigly.
    And I never let anyone see them, except that document specialist, Sergei something, really nice guy. Paulie introduced us.
    And that guy Jared and Ivanka had round, y’know Big League Arab guy, but he’s OK! No bad hombres!
    And that sweet old Mrs. Chen. But that was OK, ’cause I’d declassified.
    But I handled them perfectly; no secrets ever been handled better.
    Did I email them? No! Fake news!”

  13. JohnSF says:


    “They found these three mundane statutes: espionage and the two others.”

    I give up.
    No attempt at satire can compete with that.
    Jaw floor intersection.

    Are they sure she’s actually a lawyer?
    Or even a vaguely sentient member of our species?

  14. CSK says:

    John, I hope you don’t think this is a parody.

  15. CSK says:

    At this point, she and Bobb are probably the best Trump can do.

  16. Jen says:

    @JohnSF: Re: “vaguely sentient”–I think that’s in question, as she’s saying she really, really looked hard for any additional materials marked “Top Secret” and couldn’t find any! at all! anywhere!

    The elevators do not go to the top floor with any of this crew.

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jen & @CSK:
    You apparently read my mind, because there is a THIRD! post that covers the topic of Ms. Habba’s exposure in all of this:


    (I really should take my ADHD medicine in the morning like I’m supposed to.)

    And as for her defense to Charlie Kirk about “Mundane…. Espionage” all I can think of is (obviously) Arrested Development “Light Treason”

  18. Kathy says:


    Well, if he had attempted to cross the Psi Corps, he’d really be in deep trouble. They like extrajudicial executions and long term torture.

  19. Gustopher says:

    These are Decoy Documents, strategically placed in Mara Lago (which he really should rename to Maga Lago) by the Secret Service to ensnare potential Chinese spies. They contain Fake Secrets. The Biden FBI is too stupid, partisan and senile to notice the difference.

    Documentation of Operation Chinese Honey Pot Xi Looks Like Winnie The Pooh was lost during the Secret Service cell phone upgrades.

  20. Gustopher says:


    They really are talking to the dumbest of the dumb if they think “these weren’t on the floor, the FBI PUT THEM THERE” is a defense of any kind.

    Seems like an important distinction for his team to make to me.

    Knowing that Trump is a complete slob, would you completely rule out Top Secret documents just lying on the floor?

    Given his weight and age, one can argue that he never would have been able to put them on the floor, but I would argue that once they got on the floor they were there to stay.

  21. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    As I noted in the next blog up* she may well be too stupid to be allowed access to communal oxygen:
    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    And while I agree that “stupid lawyer” is an overused meme, my gosh-danged gob is surely smacked!

    *lost track b/c I skipped my meds this morning in favor of walksies and cigars (and lunch) with Cracker.

    ** I mean, seriously, this level of stupidity gives stupid criminals a bad name. Remember, I’ve lived with a bunch of stupid ones, and most of them were brighter than her.

  22. Assad K says:


    The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father.
    And now that we’re in jumpspace, out the airlock with you.

  23. al Ameda says:

    Jonathan Turley and Alan Dershowitz have decided that appearing to be iconoclastic defenders of Trump’s excesses is the place to be.