John Solomon and Kash Patel May Be Implicated in the FBI’s Trump-Related Espionage Act Investigation

On June 22, Kash Patel announced that he had just been made a representative for Trump at the National Archives. (h/t to Suburban Gal for these links)

I can tell you now that I am now officially a representative for Donald Trump at the National Archives. And I’m going to march down there — I’ve never told anyone this, because it just happened, and I’m going to identify every single document that they blocked from being declassified at the National Archives.

The next day, Kash described that that letter, making him Trump’s representative to the Archives, “just came in, literally before I came on the show” the day before.

[Update, August 15] Trump had informed the Archives three days earlier, on June 19, that Kash and Solomon would be added to his list of representatives.

As it happens, June 22 is also the same day that the FBI sent a subpoena to Mar-a-Lago for surveillance footage.

On June 22, the Trump Organization, the name for Mr. Trump’s family business, received a subpoena for surveillance footage from cameras at Mar-a-Lago. That footage was turned over, according to an official.

According to a John Solomon column that was actually the first to report details of this purported cooperation in June, the subpoena specifically asked for surveillance videos covering the room where Trump had stashed his stolen documents.

Around the same time, the Trump Organization, which owns Mar-a-Lago, received a request for surveillance video footage covering the locker and volunteered the footage to federal authorities, sources disclosed.

On June 24, two days after DOJ sent a subpoena for the surveillance footage, Betsy Woodruff Swan reported that it wasn’t just Kash who had been given privileged access to Trump’s Archives. Solomon had also been made Trump’s representative at the Archives.

That seeming coincidence — that the FBI formally asked for surveillance videos showing who had accessed Trump’s stash of stolen records on the same day that Kash and Solomon were officially added to the list of those who represented Trump’s interests with the Archives — may raise the stakes of Trump’s legal exposure significantly.

That’s because if Trump deliberately allowed people not permitted access to classified documents or his negligence allowed people to remove such documents, it would trigger other parts of the Espionage Act than the one that prohibits someone from stealing classified documents and refusing to give them back (and all are covered by the warrant).

(d)Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or


(f)Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Neither of these men would have been authorized to access classified documents, if they did, after January 20, 2021.

Solomon, of course, has come under scrutiny for his role as a mouthpiece for Russian-backed attacks on Joe Biden. While DOJ was not known to have obtained a warrant on him by April 2021, much could have happened after that.

Kash Patel did have the top levels of clearance until Trump left office. But at least by April 2021, Kash was reported to be under investigation for leaking classified information.

Patel repeatedly pressed intelligence agencies to release secrets that, in his view, showed that the president was being persecuted unfairly by critics. Ironically, he is now facing Justice Department investigation for possible improper disclosure of classified information, according to two knowledgeable sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe. The sources said the investigation resulted from a complaint made this year by an intelligence agency, but wouldn’t provide additional details.

Once that investigation was predicated, Kash would have been stripped of clearance, if he hadn’t already been.

Which means both the men that Trump picked to dig through his documents would pose grave security concerns.

And Kash, at least, is the single witness claiming — belatedly, starting in May — that Trump declassified this information. Before much of this became public, Kash claimed Trump had declassified it all, but just not marked it as declassified.

“Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” Patel told Breitbart News in a phone interview.

“The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified,” Patel said. “I was there with President Trump when he said ‘We are declassifying this information.’”

“This story is just another disinformation campaign designed to break the public trust in a president that lived on transparency. It’s yet another way to attack Trump and say he took classified information when he did not,” he added.

At the point he made those claims, in May, Kash demonstrated extensive familiarity with the content of that first batch of stolen classified documents that had been stashed at Mar-a-Lago for a year.

Patel did not want to get into what the specific documents were, predicting claims from the left that he was disclosing “classified” material, but said, “It’s information that Trump felt spoke to matters regarding everything from Russiagate to the Ukraine impeachment fiasco to major national security matters of great public importance — anything the president felt the American people had a right to know is in there and more.”

If Kash knows that first-hand — if Kash knows that because Trump let him wade through Top Secret documents he was no longer cleared to access — then Trump may have additional criminal liability.

Update: After a week of bullshit excuses, Trump — via John Solomon — is now offering a new bullshit excuse: That Trump had a standing order that everything he back to the residence in the White House was declassified. The claim is mostly interesting because Solomon — who wasn’t even at the White House! — is feeding it up.

Update: Added link to June 19 request.

89 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Re “but he declassified everything” . . . From Charlie Savage at the NYT:

    The search warrant for Trump’s residence cited three criminal laws, all from Title 18 of the United States Code. Section 793, better known as the Espionage Act, which covers the unlawful retention of defense-related information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary; Section 1519, which covers destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings; and Section 2071, which covers the unlawful removal of government records. Notably, none of those laws turn on whether information was deemed to be unclassified.

    That last line is a killer for all those claiming Trump declassified everything.

    It also makes Patel and Solomon co-conspirators to Trump’s criming.

    • Rugger9 says:

      That, and the item noted by EW in an earlier post that the nuclear docs created under AEC/NRC control cannot be declassified by POTUS alone regardless of how much pixie dust he uses.

      I do find it interesting just how often Kash Patel turns up when really poor choices are made. Doesn’t he know that DJTJ’s job (or Jarvanka’s as a tag team) to be the court fool?

    • M Smith says:

      Besides the fact that these documents were unlikely declassified, they were also stolen from the Government, and nothing can change that.

    • civil says:

      Luppe Luppen (aka nycsouthpaw) made a similar point today: “One prudent feature of federal criminal law is that it doesn’t ever rely exclusively on the executive order-based classification system. Charges under the espionage act, IIPA, AEA, or the criminal mishandling statute can all be brought for info that’s ‘declassified.'”

    • John Colvin says:

      The timing of Trump’s appointment of Patel and Solomon to be his reps with the National Archives (almost contemporaneously with the subpoena for video with respect to access to materials retained by Trump) looks like it may be an attempt to provide “cover” for (or an argument to minimize the seriousness of) pre-appointment access to the MAL materials.

  2. Ravenclaw says:

    “A president who lived on transparency.” Gotta love the “declassified” documents that “the American people had a right to see” and that ended up locked in the basement until liberated by federal agents.

    BTW: Nice call on 18 USC 793 Dr. W!

    • Sandwichman says:

      documents that “the American people had a right to see”

      “American people” defined as Trump’s cronies, toadies, and clients, foreign and domestic.

      • Tech Support says:

        For all of Donald Trump’s malfeasance, I think we have to at least credit him for not participating in the cancellation of the Mutant-Americans that live in the sewers. He’s gone out of his way to share information with an underrepresented group often left behind in the digital era.

      • Fourcats says:

        Is he seriously arguing that of all the classified documents the government has, the American people had a right to see 1. nuclear secrets, 2. dirt on Macron, and 3. Roger Stone’s pardon? Like we are all sitting around munching our popcorn and wishing not that we could find out what the government knew about aliens or the Saudis and 9/11, but THOSE documents? Course then he never showed them to us, but I guess he’s now admitted to an intent to distribute them? This is what happen when someone lies. They dig their hole deeper and deeper

    • timbo says:

      Yep. Again, believing the lies emanating from the mouth of these Twisslerings is a predicate to being admitted to their club as a bone fide supporter of Twitler.

  3. jeco says:

    If Patel and Solly truly believed they were looking at declassified docs then they would have felt free to copy (cell pic) and share these docs with others, presumably still labeled top secret or whatever. Hot stuff.

    A friend, a former fed agent has a favorite saying from his work – which I think is apropos “If it’s not in writing it didn’t happen”

    • timbo says:

      This. The truth is that these are documents stolen from the White House, and the classification of them was never officially changed…or was changed back by Biden’s incoming EOs. Allegedly. We’ll find out how far the grand juries are willing to pursue Espionage and other federal criminal acts by these scowflaw soon. Certainly there’s been warrants and subpoenas issued already…

    • Peterr says:


      Classified documents are labeled as such, so that if someone should come upon it, they know how to handle it. Every page is marked classified, and in docs with multiple levels of classification within it, they might have classification marks for every paragraph.

      Classifications can be changed, of course. And how do you know the classification has been changed? The old classification marks are struck through, and new ones placed on the document.

      If the docs have “SECRET” printed at the top, then they are Secret. Trump can claim he declassified them, but that just invites the followup question “How does anyone know?”

      Suppose an old Reagan White House staffer has a document in their home from their days in the White House that is marked “SECRET” and somehow word of that document got to the DOJ who came looking for it. “Oh, that document,” says the staffer. “Reagan declassified that before he left office.” The DOJ person looks at it again, and says “But it’s still marked SECRET.” They write a note in the notebook, and ask the obvious followup: “OK. Do you have anything to back that account up?” The staffer replies “No. He just pointed to it and said ‘I declassify you’ three times, and then handed it to me.” The DOJ person asks “Was anyone else in the room?” The staffer, seeing where this is going, is starting to get nervous. “If you mean anyone else who is still alive and can vouch for me, no.”

      That’s why the document markings matter. They protect the information in the document and those who put it together (the sources and methods), and they protect the people who handle the document from accusations of mishandling classified material.

      If you changed the classification and didn’t document it in some way, how the hell is anyone supposed to know?

      • Purple Martin says:

        Yes. And, specifically, all information/documents identified for declassification must remain under all mandatory classification controls until the entire process is complete including, as you note, the strike-through of the old markings and remarking with ‘Declassified” and date/authority.

  4. jeco says:

    Several write-ups referred to Patel, Solomon and “others”. Inquiring minds want to know who others, how many others and how much history is on the tapes. There are at least 3 in a very hot mess

  5. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Well, according to Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich and per NBC, it was an “outrageous” search and a “botched raid where they seized the President’s picture books, a ‘hand written note,’ and declassified documents.”

    The President’s picture books?

    Comic, pop up, or coloring?

    Perhaps Taylor should choose his words more carefully…

  6. joberly says:

    We’ll see the warrant soon enough for ourselves. In the meantime, the NYT is reporting that their reporters have seen the warrant and they say it cites the Espionage Act (Title 18, Section 793) as well as Section 1519 (destroying or impeding a federal investigation) and Section 2071 (concealment of records). Congratulations to Marcy for her reporting and analysis that the former president and possibly others are under investigation for a possible violation of the Espionage Act.

  7. dude says:

    I may have my lawyers and functions messed up, but wouldn’t the President’s lawyers (the ones for “the office of the President”–Cippolone, I think) have to be involved in declassifying any government paperwork passing through the President’s office? And if asked about such things by DOJ now, would they not be required to respond without claiming any sort of attorney-client privilege in a national security matter involving nuclear weapons? I understand the public reporting suggests Trump’s personal attorneys appear to be the ones advising him after leaving office, but I am wondering if deciding what to take, and deciding what to declassify, started before leaving office and who might that involve.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Patel refers (see Dr. Wheeler’s post) to WH counsel “failing” to follow through with paperwork to certify declassification. I have wondered all week if the FBI’s search might have been triggered by something divulged to the DOJ grand jury by Patrick Cipollone or Pat Philbin, who have testified in the past few weeks. Since Patel’s leaky defense of Trump puts them in the crosshairs (yet more public evidence of a cleavage in MAGA world), and Cipollone at least has used his public testimony to J6SC to demonstrate his fealty to the law, I wouldn’t be surprised if he balked at the way sensitive documents were being handled during January 2021.

      • dude says:

        It has been discussed here that the President does not have the unilateral capacity under law to declassify every level of security classification. I assume the lawyers for the office of the President, at least, know this. If there are documents found which Trump took home “to work on” after hours believing his “standing order” for automatic declassification allowed this, then somebody in authority must have told him such a standing order was invalid for certain secure documents. I presume again that would be the lawyers “for the office of the President.” It is not merely balking to fail at “follow-through” on imaginary paperwork that makes Trump’s presume declassification possible. If the Pats know he is making negligent decisions about taking classified material home–even if they think his Kraken-headed personal lawyers have told the President otherwise and accept he prefers to listen to them–it seems to me two Pats are part of covering up a crime. Can we expect the two Pats to give DOJ testimony to what they know, not just stop at “well, we had professional differences with the Kraken and walked away–it’s not my job anymore” ? I don’t believe Trump is a naive figure. I just believe the Pats are much move involved and need to speak-up.

  8. Ddub says:

    Thank you for your unrelenting, pivotal coverage.
    I keep having to kick myself of the historical nature of the week as revelations tumble down. The level of hubris involved here is biblical. Everybody and their Granny must have warned him. Or, maybe not. Maybe by this stage it’s all sycophants all the time. Either or, the comeuppance is justice, served cold.

  9. Paulka says:

    I raised this issue with a bit of snark yesterday, but Trump tweeted:

    I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020

    And lo and behold the issue pops it’s head up today. I am by no means an expert and have no concept of how this overlay with the current fiasco

    “In his court declaration, Meadows said Trump’s tweet wasn’t about allowing the nation to see the documents; rather, it was about Attorney General William Barr’s being able to release them.

    The statements were “related to the authorization he had provided the attorney general to declassify documents as part of his ongoing review of intelligence activities related to the 2016 presidential election and certain related matters,” Meadows said.”

    So, is Barr tangled up in this too? This whole declassification thing seems like a deep rabbit hole, but as stated earlier it is probably an irrelevancy

  10. klynn says:


    Would Pence have had knowledge of all in Trump’s possession? If yes, is there a problem for him in this process?

        • gffish says:

          Pence wants to appear tough to appeal to Trumpsters, hoping to get their votes in the 2024 primaries since Mango Mussolini might be in jail by that time. Since most of them wanted to hang The Stepford Veep on 1/6/21, that scheme probably won’t work.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          I doubt the former Veep would know (or even care much) about what The Donald ever had in his possession (unless it was poltically useful).

          Pence’s utterances were simply a signal to the Deplorables and nothing more.

          I doubt he’ll make any other comment about it now as he’ll want to keep in sweet with the hawks.

  11. wetzel says:

    In NY Times / Matthew Rosenberg vs. the Central Intelligence Agency, the 2nd Circuit Court was looking at whether a public statement by the President which divulges classified information, incidentally or not, actually declassifies the material without taking further steps. (

    Here is one sentence in the ruling, which might be relevant, ‘Declassification cannot occur unless designated officials follow specified procedures.’ The court did include a footnote supporting the claim, which points to Obama Executive Order 13,526. I do not know whether an Executive Order of one President constrains a subsequent President who has not made a superseding order. The court ruling, at least, is a precedent in support of the idea that declassification is a defined process.

    It seems like common sense deductive logic. Classification has no meaning outside of the context of government bureaus regulating the secrets they generate. If classification were bureaucratically premised then declassification must also be premised as a defined bureaucratic process. A President must communicate an order of declassification to the relevant bureau for it to have occurred. That seems logical to me, deductively, regardless of the “virtually plenary” powers over declassification a given President may have.

        • Rayne says:

          LOL I’m laughing about the troll I just binned whose difficulty using certain prepositions exposed their Russian-as-primary-language/English-as-secondary-language.

          They popped up just about the time you and another commenter had just mentioned Russia. I guess they’re feeling a bit sensitive now that their питомец в оранжевом парике (orange wigged pet) is in trouble.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    To summarize, the implication is that Trump was attempting to cover his ample backside, along with those of Solomon and Patel, by making them his representatives to the NA. Even if successful – I don’t think it is – it would cover only a narrow slit of Trump’s exposure. And it’s only half the issue. His representatives would still need to have the requisite clearances to view the materials themselves. Marcy points out they almost certainly did not.

    It also implies, of course, that both Solomon and Patel – and who knows how many others – had already viewed documents they were not cleared to see, which the request for surveillance videos might prove. Another case of Trump attempting to cure, too little and too late, one of his probably long list of crimes.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Solomon and Patel are there as commissars and moles, not reps. As noted above they still would have to be cleared at relevant level to view any documents as well as having the need to know. While Kash might still have had a clearance if Biden was slow to cancel it, Solomon’s not likely to have ever had one. It’s doubtful that either one’s background would stand up to the scrutiny needed for TS/SCI/RD access. I guess Dinesh D’Felon wasn’t available.

      Their job would be reporting back to Individual-1 what the NA has on him and whether the NA is aware of what he had squirreled away at M-a-L.

      I do wonder about the ‘info re: President of France’ item. Macron can’t be thrilled to see that. The other thing this does is put a final nail in the coffin regarding Bobb’s claim she wasn’t allowed to observe the process, because she signed for the transfer.

      The rest of it is as expected. Let’s see how the case(s) go.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        It occurs to me that Bobb probably was not allowed to observe the process “up close and personal” because there were top secret documents being unearthed and she hasn’t got clearance. Of course she will have been in the room, but maybe she figured she could make it seem otherwise by making a broad statement.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Earl, did you have to put “ample backside” and “narrow slit” in sequential sentences?

      You just generated an image I cannot unsee.

  13. generalsternwood says:

    I heard an interview with John Solomon once on Pacifica, and my distinct impression is that having him wandering through Trump’s classified forest is not very different from handing the documents to, say, Sergey Lavrov.

  14. Badger Robert says:

    They were all being set up, piece by piece, as DofJ was eliminating the defenses and building the elements.of offense. When the counter intelligence attorney brings FBI agents with him, to be his witnesses, conspirators with cognitive capacity would realize they were being set up. But everyone with mental power had left Trumpland long ago.

    • Peterr says:

      Trump would have seen Bratt’s presence as the DOJ trying to bluff him. “They’re bringing in this Big Shot to try to get me to fold, but I can see through their play. Suckers!”

      That’s not working out so well for him.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I grant that Patel and Solomon are most likely moles, representing more than just Donald Trump, I’m still wondering why the Roger Stone pardon records were so important, they were stored along with the alleged nuke secrets. Was that a Freudian slurp by Trump?

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m wondering if he had *two* pardons for Stone, one of which was more generous, and which he still had, as something to be used against demands by Stone.

      • timbo says:

        You may be on to something here. There certainly could have been draft documents, government records, in this area that hadn’t been returned to NARA.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Once Biden finished the oath of office on 20 JAN 2021 any pocket pardons became moot. Of course these would be conveniently backdated if needed, but the farther down we go in history it becomes much less plausible to see any 19 JAN 2021 dates on pardons for pals.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      “Remember what I did for you, Roger? I’ll remind you what I did for you. Look! Now you keep the faith, mister – you owe me bigly.”

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not sure they were. I’m stewing on what to make of the warrant. Will revisit it tomorrow, after sleep.

      • Douglas says:

        What do you know about how Dotard’s belongings were packed up when it left the white house? Has there been anything published about how that went down?

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Douglas” or “Doug.” You last commented her as “mangler” if you’d rather revert to that username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • mangler says:

          Gotcha. I comment v infrequently and didn’t keep track of it and sure didn’t know y’all did either :)

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks. It’s not just community recognition but it’s a key factor. We are visited by very elaborate trolls here; it’s not unheard of for trolls to masquerade as an innocuous community member for some time before dumping payloads. Unique and memorable usernames make it easier for the entire community to notice who is a regular and who is a n00bie still developing community credit.

  16. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Just read the unsealed warrant and property receipt over at CNN and honestly, it doesn’t really say a lot that wasn’t already more or less known, which is understandable.

  17. BROUX says:

    One detail has come up a few times, but I am not sure this has been established clearly.

    After the National Archives retrieved some document last January, was there an official inquiry “are you sure you don’t have more?”. If so, was the response “no, that’s it, we don’t have more”, or was it more like “yeah there is more but we are keeping it”. It’s wrong in both cases, but in the former, there is lying to DOJ officials. So, do we know the response to the inquiry? Was there a lie?

  18. Drew says:

    A detail on the inventory struck me. Box 2 is described as a leatherbound box of documents. 2A (which I take to be how they are entering descriptive notes for significant contents of certain boxes) is “Various classified/TS/SCI documents.”

    This is the only box described as leatherbound and the only one mentioning TS/SCI documents. Leather bindings are not ordinary for archives boxes. Normally they are grey or blue “acid free” cardboard. Leather bindings don’t aid preservation or convenience. The only thing they are good for is for show.

    Without more information we don’t know why Trump wanted these documents in a showy box or where he kept it, but putting those documents there does say something about intent, it’s certainly not accidental.

    • Catherine says:

      Putting any paper in a LEATHER bound box is an invitation for the slow disintegration of the paper. I would surmise this is more evidence of intent. Your observation is completely spot on. This is the “Look Ma, at what I’ve got” box.

  19. Mainly Mike says:

    I have a hunch that DJT didn’t snatch every document found in search but rather he had some help. Perhaps some of the “secured room” documents are photos/copies and the DOJ and agencies are reviewing who had access to them. NARA keeps logs of every person who enters the building and requests a file. I would assume the military and intelligence does as well.

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