Former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore recently stepped into the spotlight with some sage advice for his ex-client: “For the love of everything, stop talking!”
Parlatore, who was part of the legal ensemble defending Trump in the Mar-a-Lago government documents investigation until last month, appeared on CNN to discuss Trump’s legal quagmire. The conversation revolved around Trump’s recent Fox News interview, where the former president, in classic Trump style, made a potentially incriminating gaffe.
In the interview, Trump appeared to confess that he knowingly had thousands of government documents stashed away, flouting a subpoena order from last year. He justified this by saying the official papers were mixed up with his personal belongings and he was simply too preoccupied to sort them out.
Trump told Fox News host, Bret Baier, “Because I had boxes, I wanted to go through the boxes and get all of my personal things out. … I was very busy, as you’ve sort of seen.”
Legal pundits observing the interview agreed that Trump’s words sounded suspiciously like a self-damning confession.
National security attorney Bradley Moss reacted by saying, “Mr. Trump’s lawyers had to be cringing during that interview, and DOJ lawyers were no doubt taking notes.”
Earlier this month, Trump found himself in hot water with a 37-count indictment relating to his accumulation of government documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after his White House tenure. The charges ranged from keeping hold of sensitive government materials, a violation of the Espionage Act, to obstructing DOJ and the National Archives efforts to retrieve the documents.
Crucially, the laws Trump allegedly breached do not factor in how government documents are stored or whether someone is too “busy” to segregate personal and official records. Even if Trump’s latest defense were true, it would not exonerate him. On the contrary, it might only highlight his negligence, something that the statutes do address.
When questioned if Trump’s words amounted to an inadvertent confession, Parlatore didn’t provide a clear-cut response but stated that Trump’s volubility was likely doing him more harm than good.
“This is one of the reasons why we always advise our clients, ‘Don’t talk about the case. You have the right to remain silent. Use it. Let your attorneys talk about it,’” he said.
Parlatore added that Trump’s words could potentially be used against him in a trial, stating “Putting that statement out there — with that question — yes, the prosecutors can absolutely use that.”
He remained tight-lipped when asked about the specific advice he’d given Trump in the past, simply stating, “As a general practice, I always tell all my clients, ‘Don’t talk about the case.’” It’s a lesson that might do Trump some good to learn as he navigates these murky legal waters.