Timothy Parlatore, who recently left Donald Trump’s legal team, predicted Sunday that the former president might not be prosecuted over his handling of classified documents, and compared the case to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Parlatore said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he wouldn’t be surprised if Trump isn’t prosecuted in the Justice Department’s probe. “Is this something where a prosecution makes sense?” he said.
Parlatore went on to say that he was someone who was against prosecuting Clinton in the email controversy that shook up her 2016 presidential campaign, and suggested that the reasons for not prosecuting Trump in the classified documents probe were similar to the arguments not to prosecute Clinton.
“I was of the opinion that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted, because there are all of these other problems,” he said. “You have to actually take these documents, show them to the jury and then prove to them that it constitutes national defense information.”
Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign had been dogged with backlash over her use of a personal email server during her tenure as secretary of state. The FBI concluded in July 2016 that it found no evidence of criminality in its review of Clinton’s emails, but former FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into her private email server shortly before the 2016 election over newly revealed emails — before the agency then reaffirmed its conclusion that exonerated Clinton. Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe was widely criticized as a move that contributed to Trump’s election win.
Republicans backing Trump have attempted to compare the Justice Department’s classified documents probe to the case of Clinton’s emails, with some arguing that there would be similar political implications.
Parlatore, who departed Trump’s legal team last month over irreconcilable differences with other lawyers on the team, has been a vocal critic of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the former president’s retention of classified documents. Even as he announced that he was leaving Trump’s legal team, he maintained in a statement his position that “the DOJ is acting improperly.”
His remarks on Sunday come as Smith’s investigation into Trump — which focuses on his alleged mishandling of more than 100 classified documents that were discovered at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last year — appears to be approaching an end.
The federal grand jury in the case that has been hearing evidence in the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents is expected to meet again this coming week in Washington, multiple people familiar with the probe told NBC News.
Prosecutors working for Smith had been presenting the grand jury with evidence and witness testimony for months, but activity appeared to have slowed in recent weeks based on observations at the courthouse and sources. It’s unclear whether prosecutors are prepared to seek an indictment at this point.
FBI agents said in a redacted affidavit last year that they found 184 unique documents that had classification markings in the 15 boxes that Trump returned to the National Archives in January.
The affidavit stated that 25 documents were marked as “TOP SECRET,” 67 documents marked as “confidential” and 92 marked “secret.”
That then led to the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago by FBI agents who recovered a trove of top secret and other highly classified documents, court documents unsealed by a federal judge said.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the case and allegations that he mishandled classified documents. He claimed last year that he can declassify documents “by thinking about it.”