Opinion: Trump’s biggest legal threat may be from within

Amidst all the attention over the indictment of Donald Trump in Fulton County for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia, there were more ominous signs this week for the former president over how he might not control his legal fate.

In a separate case concerning classified documents that Trump kept after leaving the White House, federal prosecutors detailed how an information technology aide at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate — in grand jury testimony earlier this year — had denied knowledge of an effort by Trump to delete security video of boxes holding classified documents.

But after being told he could face perjury charges, that Mar-a-Lago worker, identified in court papers as ‘Trump Employee 4′, dropped his lawyer who was paid for by Trump, and suddenly changed his story.

“Immediately after receiving new counsel, Trump Employee 4 retracted his prior false testimony,” prosecutors revealed, explaining that’s what led to additional charges accusing Trump and two other employees of trying to erase security camera footage — after the feds had sent a subpoena for that video.

While many Republicans in Congress have generally defended Trump against four different indictments, the classified documents case has a different flavor simply because it involves secret materials that Trump should not have had in his possession.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said the documents case was ‘almost a slam dunk’ against Trump – arguing it should disqualify Trump as a candidate for president.

“I think Joe Biden needs to be replaced, but I don’t think Americans will vote for someone who’s been convicted,” the Louisiana Republican said on CNN.

The revelation about Trump Employee 4 was much like what happened with former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson before the special Jan. 6 committee in Congress.

In her initial testimony, Hutchinson couldn’t remember much about anything. But when she decided to get rid of her lawyer — who was paid for by Team Trump — she pulled back the curtain on events inside the White House leading up to Jan. 6

Hutchinson later said she felt like Alexander Butterfield, who told the nation in the Watergate hearings about President Nixon’s taping system in the Oval Office.

Like Nixon, the biggest threat for Trump may be from people within his own orbit, who might decide that they don’t want to risk going to jail.

The Fulton County case involves charges against Trump and 18 others — a mix of lawyers, aides, and political allies.

Will there be a ‘Trump Employee 4′ who flips in Georgia? It’s one of many unknowns right now for Trump and the GOP.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com