As prosecutors entered what gave the impression to be the ultimate phases of their investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s dealing with of labeled paperwork, Mr. Trump launched a pre-emptive strike in opposition to a potential indictment, posting a pair of messages on his social media platform early Thursday morning that sought to delegitimize the inquiry.
Mr. Trump accused a high federal prosecutor within the paperwork investigation of looking for to “bribe & intimidate” a lawyer representing one of many witnesses within the case. He claimed that the prosecutor had provided the lawyer an “vital ‘judgeship’ within the Biden administration” if his consumer “‘flips’ on President Trump.”
The assaults by Mr. Trump on Reality Social had been drawn from a playbook that he has used again and again to undermine inquiries into his conduct. His efforts to tar each investigations — and investigators — began nicely earlier than he was president and continued all through his time period in workplace, maybe most prominently in the course of the inquiry into his marketing campaign’s potential collusion with Russian officers in 2016.
The posts from Mr. Trump on Thursday had their roots in an effort by his authorized workforce to assemble allegations about potential misconduct by prosecutors within the paperwork case.
Some weeks in the past, as Mr. Trump’s aides and attorneys turned more and more anxious that an indictment may be looming, they started assembling an inventory of complaints about alleged misconduct by prosecutors within the workplace of the particular counsel Jack Smith, in accordance with two folks acquainted with the matter.
The listing of grievances was then positioned within the draft of a letter written to Legal professional Common Merrick B. Garland meant to alert Mr. Garland to the attorneys’ considerations about how Mr. Smith’s workforce has dealt with the paperwork case, the folks stated.
An abbreviated version of the letter, which additionally requested a proper assembly with Mr. Garland, was despatched to the Justice Division late final month. It resulted in a meeting this week between three of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and Mr. Smith and other prosecutors, not together with the lawyer basic.
Mr. Trump’s accusations concerning the provide of a judgeship resembled an allegation that was found as his attorneys had been accumulating complaints concerning the prosecution workforce, the folks acquainted with the matter stated.
In line with that accusation, the folks stated, throughout a gathering with a protection lawyer representing a possible witness in opposition to Mr. Trump, a high prosecutor within the paperwork case, introduced up — in an uncommon and maybe inappropriate method — an software that the lawyer had submitted to change into a municipal choose in Washington.
Mr. Trump’s authorized workforce believed the prosecutor’s reference to the judgeship could have been a veiled risk designed to stress the lawyer into getting his consumer to change into a cooperating witness, the folks stated.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mr. Smith, declined to remark.
All through his life, Mr. Trump has handled each problem to him like an ongoing negotiation. His impulse is to go on to the individual he considers the highest official of a company to lodge his complaints. That was the case when the particular counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed in 2017; Mr. Trump’s advisers needed to cease him from making an attempt to succeed in out on to Mr. Mueller to argue his case.
By broadcasting his complaints on social media moderately than making them in court docket papers to a choose, Mr. Trump prevented the conventional methodology of lodging accusations about prosecutorial misconduct — a technique that, after all, additionally places a burden of veracity and accuracy on the accuser.
Ought to an indictment be filed, he may select to incorporate his complaints in a movement to dismiss the case. In principle, he may additionally file a movement earlier than any expenses are filed utilizing the complaints to assault the method of investigating him with the grand jury.
Since his days as a New York actual property developer a long time in the past, Mr. Trump has sought to undermine folks analyzing his or his firm’s conduct. His firm was sued in 1973 by the Justice Division, alleging racially discriminatory housing practices. Mr. Trump’s lawyer, the brutal fixer Roy M. Cohn, claimed in court docket filings in a countersuit that the federal government had engaged in “Gestapo-like ways” and known as investigators “storm troopers.”
A couple of years later, Mr. Trump was investigated by the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn for a potential fraud cost linked to his acquisition of a parcel of land. Mr. Trump met with investigators with out a lawyer current. The case was finally dropped, however Mr. Trump went on to complain to folks about what he went by way of.
A long time later, when Eric Schneiderman, then the New York lawyer basic, investigated Mr. Trump’s for-profit college, Trump College, Mr. Trump filed a criticism with state ethics officers claiming that Mr. Schneiderman had sought to boost cash from him beforehand and claimed the investigation was retribution for not doing extra to contribute.
Even earlier than Mr. Trump was indicted in a Manhattan state court earlier this yr, he had already spent months denigrating the district lawyer, Alvin L. Bragg, as a puppet of Mr. Trump’s political enemies. He repeatedly referred to Mr. Bragg, Manhattan’s first Black prosecutor, as “racist.” And he’s at the moment looking for to have the choose within the case, performing Justice Juan M. Merchan, recused, claiming he has conflicts as a result of a relative of his has labored with Democrats.
After Mr. Trump took workplace as president, he and his allies turned their ire a number of occasions on regulation enforcement officers concerned in investigations that got here near him.
In 2018, for instance, after federal brokers searched the office of Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s private lawyer on the time, for proof of marketing campaign finance violations, Rudolph W. Giuliani, one other lawyer near Mr. Trump, launched an assault in opposition to the F.B.I.
Mr. Giuliani declared the F.B.I.’s workplace in New York — which he had as soon as labored with intently because the U.S. lawyer in Manhattan — had behaved like “storm troopers” in conducting the raid, the identical language Mr. Cohn had used years earlier.
However how Mr. Trump approaches the particular counsel Jack Smith’s investigations is more likely to observe most intently with how he sought to fight the Mueller investigation.
Mr. Trump repeatedly attacked the F.B.I. and prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller, calling the Russia investigation a witch hunt. Mr. Trump and his allies tried to destroy the legitimacy of the inquiry by conflating issues that inner Justice Division investigators later uncovered and distorting information utilized by John Durham, one other particular prosecutor who scrutinized the Russia investigation, in his personal inquiry.