Other Possible Classified Materials in Trump’s Safe

[NB: As always, check the byline. Thanks. /~Rayne]

I’ve been sitting on this since last November. I had pieces I couldn’t quite pull together. But now that the FBI has executed a warrant on Trump at Mar-a-Lago to seize stolen presidential records and classified materials, those disparate pieces may be coming together.

While this is nowhere near as exciting as missing nuclear documents, is it possible there were other crimes in progress at the time Trump left office — ones which might have happened under our noses and may have posed national security threats then and now?

Please also note this post is partially speculative as well.

~ ~ ~

In late 2020, something happened in Morocco which might offer hints at whatever crimes might have been cooked up elsewhere.

There was little mainstream news coverage in the U.S.; we were too preoccupied with election-related coverage to pay much attention.

In exchange for recognizing Morocco’s illegitimate occupancy of Western Sahara – violating West Saharan Sahrawi people’s human rights to self determination – the Trump administration sold nearly a billion dollars in weapons to Morocco.

The deal was characterized as part of a process of restoring Morocco’s relationship with Israel. Morocco’s land grab was first recognized on Thursday, December 10, 2020 in a tweet by Trump. The arms deal was reported on Friday, December 11.

In other words, the arms deal portion of the negotiations was buried in the news dump zone, while much of the U.S. was watching Team Trump’s election theatrics.

The arms deal could have been another quid pro quo. As late as it happened in Trump’s term, as hushed and hurried as it was, with as little support as it had among Republicans, something about the deal still reeks to high heaven.

The United Nations didn’t see eye to eye with the Trump administration about this new disposition of West Sahara; it had been blindsided by what it saw as an abrupt reversal of US policy.

The UN continued to recognize West Saharan Sahrawi people’s human rights to autonomy though West Sahara remains a non-self governing territory.

What a coincidence, though, that Morocco issued a one billion euro bond in September 2020 before the US election. It had been toying with issuing a two billion euro bond at least as early as the first week of August, thought this may have been an expansion of a two-bond program announced in March 2019 with a one billion euro bond sold out in November 2019.

It’s also a coincidence that Morocco finished building a new base in summer of 2020, with plans to build or expand another for a large number of F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters it agreed to buy from the US in 2019.

Finally, it could be a hat trick that Morocco hosted Ukrainian national guard members for training early this year at that brand new base, before Russia’s attack on Ukraine began in late February. Was this part of the earlier negotiations?


March 25, 2019 — Morocco agreed to purchase 25 F-16s from US

November 2019 — Sale of 24 Apache helicopters to Morocco approved

April 2020 — Sale of 10 Harpoon air-to-sea missiles to Morocco approved

June 1, 2020 — Construction of a military base completed in Morocco

August 9, 2020 — Morocco considered 2 billion euro bond

September XX, 2020 — Morocco issued 1 billion euro bond

November 3, 2020 — US Election Day

November 9, 2020 — Trump fired SecDef Mark Esper over Twitter, replacing him with Acting SecDef Christopher Miller; Moroccan news noted this change.

December 10, 2020 — Trump reversed US policy over Western Sahara when Trump tweeted recognition of Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara

December 11, 2020 — Arms deal announced

~ ~ ~

Back in 2020, journalist Zack Kopplin of the Government Accountability Project had gotten a tip:

It’s a long thread written over several days which includes links to reporting Kopplin did.

At the heart of this story, though, is a war crime.

Remember when Trump said “We’re keeping the oil” from Syria in October 2019? That.

Trump openly expressed a desire to commit a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the 1907 Hague Laws and Customs of War on Land, and 18 U.S. Code 2441 War crimes, for starters. There may be more applicable laws which could have been broken.

Trump also knew the value of the oil in question — $45 million a month.

Kopplin was tipped to the basics about the company which was supposed to begin development in the northeast region of Syria, but the ultimate owner of this entity and development process wasn’t clear.

Following Kopplin’s reporting, some names pop up as connected by role (like then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo), or rumored as connected by other relationships (like Erik Prince who funded a business tangentially related to Delta Crescent).

There’s also the frustrating interrelation between Syria, Russia, Iraq, the Kurdistan region, Turkey, Iran, and the UN’s humanitarian aid for displaced Syrians. The aid became leverage in negotiations which have been fairly opaque in US news.

The status of the oil, too, isn’t particularly clear, with Delta Crescent’s development running into policy changes with Biden’s administration, terminating its sanctions waiver.

Add to the picture the fluid challenge of trying to keep Turkey on board with US during increasing Black Sea tensions, as well as Iran in JCPOA negotiations, thwarting Russia in more than Syria, while trying to assure both humanitarian aid along with global grain shipments.

It’s a damned complex mess through which oil may or may not be smuggled through Iraq by a Kurdish political family, sanctioned or not sanctioned depending on how the Biden administration is trying to leverage the situation for humanitarian aid access, improved relations in the Levant, or decreased oil prices.

What’s really unclear is whether there were any kickbacks offered in 2019-2020 for “keeping the oil” and if any, who received or receives them.

~ ~ ~

Since his testimony before the House Oversight Committee in May 2021, I’ve not been persuaded former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller is on the up and up, along with his former chief of staff Kash Patel — one of two guys Trump is known to have named his representatives to the National Archives.

The timing of Miller’s placement as Acting SecDef in tandem with the election may seem like an obvious effort to pre-plan for January 6, but Trump is a crook. We need to look at the situation through a crook’s eyes.

What if January 6 wasn’t just about an attempt to obstruct the certification of the vote, but an effort to buy time to deal with illicit profiteering like oil obtained through a war crime?

American troops were supposed to guard the area in which Delta Crescent would develop the oil Trump was intent on keeping. Wouldn’t the Secretary of Defense need to go along with this long enough for a supply chain to be established from the oil wells to distribution?

Is this why Miller, a former Director for Special Operations and Irregular Warfare who worked during the Trump administration in counterterrorism involved in operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, ended up Acting SecDef in the last days of the Trump administration?

What does Christopher Miller know? What of his sidekick Kash Patel — the one who knew the contents of Trump’s classified documents cache?

~ ~ ~

Marcy wrote about some very strong candidates for classified documents Trump might have had at Mar-a-Lago. I think both the circumstances surrounding the rushed Morocco arms deal and the Syrian oil development are two more candidates, especially since both matters may have tentacles reaching into ongoing national security concerns.

But I also have a feeling we’re scratching the surface with the boxes of paper seized this week.

I hadn’t even gotten around to the Kurdish link to Miami, Florida or illegal drug trade.

115 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I’m sick of looking at this post. I’ve had it up off and on for month, probably cut more material out of it that is in this published piece.

    • OrangePebbles says:

      Am very interested in reading some of the material you cut out. You maybe sick of looking at the post, but I found it mind blowing. Great summary.

      • Rayne says:

        LOL I will think about pulling a page together as a dumping ground, but it wouldn’t have comments enabled. There’s stuff I know I lost with a couple of computer burps as well, but I do have some links validating some of what Zack Kopplin found about the shell company key personnel. I also sketched a network of relationships between Delta Crescent and other peripheral firms.

        Important to remember none of this happened in a vacuum, siloed off from other events going on under our noses. Like Trump’s withdrawal from the P5+1 JCPOA with Iran, resumption of oil sanctions, the assassination of Soleimani, more. How did those additional reversals of US foreign policy work in tandem with any possible grifts?

    • Hug h says:

      Great work Rayne.
      Wherever the truth lies, History will view trump’s tangled web of pathology, malfeasance and craven stupidity with astonishment.

    • Markymark says:

      A relative who worked the gov’t at a fairly high level had a theory on what nuclear secrets Trump took home. He thinks it was the B61 nuke (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B61_nuclear_bomb) that came online during Trump’s administration. Trump was very proud of it and claimed it was something that he did for the US… the retooling program actually began under Clinton, but whatever! The bomb is very cleaver, you can set a dial on it to create a specific explosive yield… bomb a single building or blow up a town.

      Thanks for all your good work.

      • Rayne says:

        It’s a good guess, given Trump’s narcissism and tendency toward kleptomania. He might also have an affinity for the B61 since its earliest model was designed when he was a teen and in production by the time he should have been serving in Vietnam.

        Would it have much value to hostile entities, though, considering the age of the technology? I lean toward his corruption here – was he in possession of other newer nuke technology intelligence, like that Bob Woodward mentioned in a book earlier in Trump’s administration? Like a nuke-powered hypersonic missile?

        If this situation is handled appropriately, we may not know in our lifetimes. If it isn’t, well…

    • scoff says:

      What I’m getting out of all this is, in essense, it’s just another grift. Trump pocketing some more cash on his way out. Another money hustle. Like Trump U and Trump’s non-existent election defense fund and everything else he’s done. Another scam. More bamboozle. More corruption.

      And tens of millions of Americans just love, love, love this guy. They admire him. They worship him. They wanna BE like him….

      I think I see our problem.

      I’m sorry if this doesn’t add to the discussion, but I’m gobsmacked (to borrow an apt British phrase) that those tens of millions don’t see what a lie it all is, or they just don’t care. Both possibilities are depressing.

      • Rayne says:

        Millions of Americans were exposed to more than a dozen years of The Donald as a highly produced character in The Apprentice, along with still more Americans who know him through his kayfabe persona in World Wrestling Entertainment. They let these characters into their homes every week while failing to recognize they were fiction hiding a lifelong mobbed-up grifter.

        Add the weaponization of social media and microtargeting to this fakery to play on individuals’ weaknesses — including misogyny and racism — to promote this bleached and painted mess. The problem now is how to deprogram at scale, to crack the illusion constructed for these folks which they haven’t seen through?

    • Rayne says:

      Look, you appear to be new to emptywheel with only 10 approved comments under your belt so far. Bring a better game here because you haven’t yet earned the cred other seasoned commenters have.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I had to look up “Gray’s Sports Almanac” but after I’d done so I thought the reference was very apt. Trump as Biff is nicely done.

    • Hug h says:


      Ah, you’re crazy.

      Cosmo Kramer:
      Am I? Or am I so sane that you just blew your mind?

      It’s impossible.

      Cosmo Kramer:
      Is it? Or is it so possible that your head is spinning like a top?

      It can’t be.

      Cosmo Kramer:
      Can’t it? Or is your entire world just crashing down all around you?

      All right, that’s enough.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    It will become clearer as the contents of the boxes are known and those documents from any subsequent searches are found. I do wonder whether the whole narcissistic idea was to try to leverage Biden through Garland, because as EW noted Individual-1 dared the AG to do something about the failure to comply to the subpoena. M-a-L was run like Fawlty Towers.

    ‘Nice country you have here, it would be a shame if something happened to it’ fits the mob boss mentality of Individual-1 to a ‘T’ so why not go big?

    • rosalind says:

      and NYTimes out today with (via MuellerSheWrote twitter feed):

      “BURIED LEDE: A person close to trump reached out to a DoJ official Thursday to pass along a message from trump to Garland. Trump wanted Garland to know he had been checking in with people around the country and found them to be enraged by the search.”

      shorter: Nice Country ya got there…

      • Peterr says:

        Two can play that game. From the NYT:

        At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.

        The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division. . . .

        That lawyer has two and only two options:
        (1) I’m an idiot, and got played by Mr. Trump!
        (2) I’m a crook, and got played by the DOJ!

        Sleep well, unnamed counselor.

        • Marika says:

          Is it possible that this lawyer upon learning his affidavit was not correct is the one who tipped off the feds that there indeed was more to be found? Could the surveillance footage prove that they had or had not accessed the storage unit or that something had been put back there after the affidavit was signed?
          This lawyer would be a credible source for the warrant affidavit.

        • vcragain says:

          I’m sure trump’s lawyers discover after a while that trump is no more honest to them, than he is to anyone else ! How can they ‘represent’ him without the facts ? trump thinks he is smarter than them all.

        • taluslope says:

          I’ve wondered since the execution of the search warrant if a lawyer hadn’t tipped off the DOJ. I don’t know jack about lawyering and I’ve been wondering: I’m a lawyer; I obtain evidence that my client is actively engaged in breaking a law; I don’t want to participate in said illegal activity; I inform the FBI about my client. Is this crazy? Since it is illegal activity have I violated attorney client privilege?

        • BobCon says:

          As far as option 1:

          “At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned” may be connected to the authorization to seize “Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.”

          One reading is that someone removed or blacked out all of the classification markings to allow the attorney to claim that all documents marked classified were returned.Or possibly this was done on a large enough subset to allow the attorney to claim this was true and just must have missed some by accident.

          And of course if the attorney knew these documents were treated this way and still made the statement that’s closer to Option 2.

        • taluslope says:

          Re. Blackening out classification markings. On TS/SCI! Yikes, that is not something I’d want to get near. Talk about an admission of guilt.

      • Rayne says:

        Well. That’s interesting timing. I wonder what time of day that “person close to trump reached out to a DoJ official” on the same day an lone wolf attempted to break into the FBI-Cincinnati office, leading to a chase later that afternoon resulting in the death of the lone wolf? Links between now-deceased Ricky Schiffer and extremist groups like the Proud Boys are still under investigation.

        Apparently this insurrectionist was done standing back and standing by.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Threatening by implication mob violence against the FBI for attempting to equally enforce the law is probably not a good look.

        • Rayne says:

          Ya’ think? Although this doesn’t surprise me considering how mobbed up Trump is, how much he acts like a capo (though who knows if he’s the capo dei capi).

        • KM Williams says:

          Wasn’t that the first response Trump attempted to create? To incite violent RW loons into “taking action”? He waves his MAGA cultist around like a firearm.

        • Rayne says:

          As Marcy has written several times about the January 6 insurrection, Trump used the extremist groups and the crowd as a weapon.

          We really should go back and look more closely at other violent “lone wolf” events since 2017 to see if there are common triggers Trump uses.

        • MB says:

          Just as some of Trump’s aides had a “standing order to declassify documents”, I guess some of these other guys also had a “standing order” to act out on behalf of their beloved presidential figurehead. Nothing in writing of course, but permission semi-tacitly granted nonetheless…not to mention the guy who stabbed Salman Rushdie – though his motives have yet to be officially revealed (decades-old fatwa?)

        • MB says:

          It lost its public fervor after Khomeini died, but was never officially “called off”. Rushdie’s security detail started slacking off after 10 years of nothing happening, though in early days, translators of his works got killed.

      • Hug h says:

        Sweet Lord…
        to be inside that man’s head for just a moment would be like Jung’s concept of Shadow incarnate.

  3. Troutwaxer says:

    Interesting, but I think the theory of this peice has to be expanded a little bit: From a crook’s perspective, if you’re the president, you can get a piece of every grift, and you’ve got the intelligence to point your people at grifts they haven’t noticed yet.

    Also, the alternate theory is that every piece of intelligence Trump took home with him forms a sort of roadmap for certain types of investors. Not so much “give these to Putin,” as “Invest in Raytheon and remit ten percent of the profits to me.” Or maybe both…

    • Rayne says:

      All that, but it wasn’t just Trump in this mix taking his cut; what Zack Kopplin uncovered has so many damned layers to it it’s dizzying. There’s a squeeze on Assad threatening to take more oil (insert video clip, “I drink your milkshake!”), the Kurds (screwed by their own Barzani family), Syrians (apart from Assad), Erdogan and Turkey, the oil developers (who could be fucked any time if the sanctions were unilaterally lifted), Iran, the paramilitary security firms involved…and every angle has more than one entity which could squeeze others.

      The Morocco situation is Israel obtaining access for the purposes of its own military expansion, but it comes at possible risk to KSA and UAE. Biden administration may not want to curtail this triangulation because this expansion has provided another source of materiel if needed for Ukraine AND there may yet remain a CIA black site in Morocco. West Sahara got bent over because it’s impoverished though it should have been seen as an independent opportunity — but I suspect cash in hand on a short timeline may have been the appeal behind the abrupt reversal in Morocco’s favor.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        These are all interesting, and I suspect we’ll have some ability to confirm/deny whether these issues are correlated with the documents, or whether the Zack Kopplin stuff it’s just the money/power moving in its usual patterns, but Vetwife, over at D Kos, brought up the other big question, which is that Trump isn’t smart-enough to pick which documents to keep.

        So who’s the ‘genius’ behind the decision to take ‘these documents’ but not ‘those documents?’ Putin? Flynn? Stone? De Vos? Someone else? Or have multiple documents been taken for multiple reasons? Just how many people/factions are acting as Trump’s puppeteers in this?

        • Rayne says:

          Patel should be squirming. R E A L L Y squirming. He’s a key node between persons outside Mar-a-Lago who know which documents are important, and the repository.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Not least because there are rumors swirling that the Feebs still have more boxes to find. If Patel was one of the liaisons for NARA then he’s going to have to explain why they still don’t have everything.

        • Rose says:

          Since Jared Kushner “peace plan for the Middle East” was actually a mineral resources + land grab, could this be somehow tied to Delek’s refinery and the next stage of Israel’s Leviathan gas field? Pompeo being in the middle makes me think so.

          I recall KSA and UAE not being happy with the newly minted cooperation between Israel and Morocco, which geo-strategically can seem a minor threat, but if Morocco’s ports would be used to distribute oil refined by Delta Crescent, then the concern would be more of having a new competitor in the arena.

          Trump removing American troops from Syria could have a retaliatory measure ordered by Putin due to this “Syrian oil theft”. He had no choice but to do it. But Trump being Trump, he either took a cut from the arms deal with Morocco (same as Jared did with KSA) or he has invested in Delta Crescent as a silent partner.

          Miller would have been brought late into the game for his knowledge of trafficking networks, crime syndicates and black ops, he would know HOW to smuggle oil out of Syria, after Putin and Assad had ordered that chaotic retreat that ended with hundreds of thousand Kurds fleeing and no American troops left in Syria.

          Just conjectures, my good people…

  4. wetzel says:

    Thank you, Rayne. Something along the lines of what you are suggesting does seem plausible. It helps to make sense of the coup plot. Why did Trump and his people feel so strongly the need to remain in power that they would risk seditious conspiracy? His vanity? Why not just retire to Trump TV, endless riches, golf, debauchery, etc? What explains the desperation of the coup?

    For my part, I’ve been convinced this was because Putin had made it plain he needed Trump to win. As the election was nearing, Putin was planning the invasion of Ukraine. Maybe it had been delayed by COVID. Think of how differently the Russo-Ukraine War would have gone if Trump were President at the time of the invasion. I don’t think there is any doubt but that the war would be over by now.

    The way a theory crystalizes disparate facts and makes them a coherent narrative is not the strongest form of proof, but it is evidence for the truth value of the claim. Maybe Trump was desperate for the coup to succeed, instead of pressure from Putin, but because in his Presidency, Trump had set a host of corrupt business plans in motion. Maybe it isn’t the diabolical Bond villain picture in my mind but just a seedy story of a grifter on the make while things are falling apart. In this view, taking the files to MAL, Trump is like Jerry Lundegaard after things start falling apart in Fargo. Cool post!

    • Rayne says:

      The model for what would have happened to Ukraine if Russia attacked it under a second Trump term is what happened to Western Sahara.

      Morocco has repeatedly grabbed more land from Western Sahara since the 1980s, just as Russia has grabbed Donetsk region and Crimea. Trump would have tweeted recognition of Ukraine as ‘the Ukraine territory’ of Russia or something like that. And then NATO would be in complete upheaval over US allowing Russia to do so.

    • earthworm says:

      replying to wetzel:
      ive been struck all along since the 2020 election that former president trump exhibited an almost palpable air of desperation, and wondered what could be motivating that.
      all i could imagine was something to do with the leverage putin might hold over him, but again, could not imagine what that might be that would provoke such recklessness.
      once ukraine invasion began, and trump shot off his mouth about that, i guessed that DJT was going to hand off ukraine to russia, had he been in office.
      but still, the desperation….
      and now rayne’s post that she’s been sitting on and trying to make sense of the abundant loose ends that dont add up.

      • Spank Flaps says:

        Axios article from a few weeks ago:

        “He remains fixated on the ‘stolen’ 2020 election. He cannot stop talking about it, no matter how many allies advise him it would serve his political interests to move on. Most have stopped trying.”

        Sounds like his obsession is getting worse and worse. He looked to have aged 20 years in a week when he appeared at the LIV golf tournament without makeup.
        FFS Germany and Japan didn’t moan this much when they lost WW2.

  5. Rwood says:

    Not sure this is relevant but somewhere deep in the gray matter I have a memory of Morocco getting some huge infrastructure loans from…France. I think it was late 2021? I remember thinking the loans were rather large for what they were for but dismissed it as it’s out of my field.

    I’ll have to dig when I get off the road but you’ve got my attention.

    • Rayne says:

      Was it Morocco or Algeria? The base construction to which I linked wasn’t the only one under development/expansion/improvement, but it was near the border to Algeria and was causing some heightened tensions. I probably should have checked Google . fr for loans/bonds.

      • Rwood says:

        Going off memory alone I’m sure it was Morrocco. I think the numbers were $2B for 300 miles of railway and I thought that was high even by US standards. That’s $7m/mile and I think the US uses $1m/mile as a blanket cost for new rail.

        However, that may be freight and not high-speed, which is obviously more expensive. I’ll have to dig to poke my memory, but I remember thinking “Wow, how much of that $2B went to baksheesh?”

        • Rayne says:

          Assuming the numbers you recall, the price might be higher because so much construction material would have to be shipped into Morocco. It’s not like there’s a lot of lumber for railway beds. But a 7:1 ratio is pretty fucking high and certainly sounds like a lot of baksheesh/vig.

        • Rwood says:

          What my initial reaction was as well.

          Short of lumber, I would think the required materials would be cheaper there (concrete ties?). Labor as well. Also less red tape. I mean, it’s not like California where every little town along the way can disrupt the project and jack up the cost.

          But I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know enough about building railways to make an accusation. Maybe see what the Chinese are paying to do the same nearby? It’s the French money that made me think of it.

        • paul says:

          When a major country makes a big construction/etc loan to a minor one, one of the conditions is not uncommonly that the materials be sourced from the lending country, and/or that much of the contract work be done by companies from the lending country. So it’s at least in part a support program for local-country industries, ultimately financed by the taxpayers of the borrowing country (who may or may not overlap with the political power structure). Because it’s in some ways free money for the people allocating it, the opportunities for graft are rife. (At a minimum, there’s “honest graft’, which is the choice of borrowing-country subcontractors to do work — if an economy is weak, big projects are a lifeline.)

          [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Paul.” WARNING: We have had a number of questionable users from the same address range you’re using. If you do not take notice of this request for name differentiation and follow this site’s community guidelines, the address range will be blocked. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • John Paul Jones says:

          Depends very much on the geology. Trains prefer gentle grades, so a lot of work goes into “gentling” the landforms to that end. If the territory is mountainous, it’s going to take more of that work, along with bridges and viaducts. Still, I assume the 1m per mile base cost takes at least some of that landforming into account. (Korea is mountainous, so maybe the base cost per mile/kilometre there might be a decent guide, but I wasn’t able to find anything about their costs.) I did find this set of benchmark costs per mile/kilometre, dated 2017, but it doesn’t break it down by country:
          Note that none of these are even close to 7m per mile/kilometre. From an outfit called Compass, which does “Global Cost Estimating Data and Consulting Services,” and they will sell you books with even more detailed data, if you have a couple thousand bucks to spend.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Concrete is often the norm for ties or “sleepers” in lumber-poor countries, such as the UK.

        • Rayne says:

          Concrete takes a massive amount of energy and fresh water, and Morocco is in the lower half of countries with renewable fresh water resources. It imports a lot of lumber from Spain, France, and Germany in that order.

    • Geoguy says:

      Morocco is building a new port and phosphate rock processing facilities in Western Saraha to ramp up exports of Western Saraha phosphate rock products. Lots of big name international construction companies are involved. Israel is a new customer. Good info at Western Saraha Resource Watch.

  6. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Were there other crimes in progress at the time Trump left office?

    Oh hell, damned near Trump’s entire tenure in the WH appears to have been a crime in progress…

    Someone should take a picture of the WH and photoshop it so it’s completely wrapped in that yellow crime scene tape…

    It’d be easier at this point to try and figure out out what Trump did that wasn’t a crime in progress…

    • Knox says:

      The man was and is constitutionally incapable of doing a straight deal. He must get over on someone or else he’s a loser. He’s been this way his whole life. I’m not sure any of us who live in the normal spectrum of life among human beings will ever be able to truly understand the level of his cowardice, greed, dishonesty, need to dominate, his anger, his victimhood, his cruelty. I believe it’s unfathomable: he is an empty sucking vortex of cosmic dimensions.
      I’m sure he is very pleasant to be around at this moment. ::::::::tee-hee:::::::

      • Bobby Gladd says:

        I tweeted the other day that “Donald Trump has one undeniable, unrivaled talent: he brings out the worst in everyone, supporters and critics alike. I am just grateful that I am not him. It must be hell.”

        Living each day in a snarling, hair-trigger anger. Not for me.

      • Tom-1812 says:

        A big part of Trump’s problem is the he’s always had it easy in life and has never faced the heartbreak and personal tragedies that most of learn to deal with. He was a millionaire by the time he was eight. He was raised in pampered affluence. His parents both lived to a ripe old age. All his children are still alive. He doesn’t seem to have faced any of the serious health challenges that cause people to become more aware of their own mortality. He never talks about anyone in the way that Biden talks about his son Beau. Trump might have been a better person if he’d faced a few real challenges in his life.

        • P J Evans says:

          He was enough of a problem, by the time he was a teen, to be sent to a “military school”, which is a reformatory for rich kids. Assume he was already criming by then.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    I remember Trump trashing the CFPA. Once president he thought himself immune from consequences and it seems likely the basis of his entire presidency was personal profit.

    • TooLoose LeTruck says:

      I’ll second that…

      Some notorious individuals, due to their behavior and actions in their lifetimes, go on to become archetypes… if Benedict Arnold is mentioned or someone is referred to as a Quisling, the understanding of what’s being inferred is pretty much instantaneous, no?

      Donald Trump appears to be so fated… to become such an distasteful archetype…

      I do not doubt that future generations will use his name to epitomize truly egregious, odious, self serving behavior…

      • grennan says:

        Benedict Arnold was at least a brilliant general before he turned, and didn’t have a decades-old reputation for loathsomeness. One of his legendary feats of leadership, through the woods to Montreal, was the basis for “Rabble at Arms”, by Kenneth Roberts.

  8. chum'sfriend says:

    Well at least this payoff seems to have been on the up and up… (snark)

    “Jared Kushner landed $2 billion from Saudi Arabia six months after his father-in-law, Donald Trump, left the White House. The sum was sent to Kushner’s private equity firm after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman overruled advisers for his nation’s sovereign wealth fund, who thought Kushner and his firm were too sketchy to warrant such a large investment, The New York Times reported on Sunday.”


    • Raven Eye says:

      The “Summer Reading” insert in this year’s Economist summer double issue starts out with an almost-long form (nine text pages) story on “MBS: despot in the desert”. After reading the story you realize that it is really just an overview — MSB is a complex piece of work. Is Jared still “…in his pocket”?

  9. ollie says:

    well. this is excellent. my shoulders are now a part of my earlobes. breathing. this is well thought out. I think I’ve been overwhelmed by the magnitude of people involved in trump’s consumption of the country. The fact that papers on the French president. Morocco. it’s stunning. I keep reading and thinking this question: WHO picked these papers to steal? Another new revelation: some documents were the payroll records of all our spies. RU TV taunting us that they’ve already seen our latest nuclear weapons papers that trump had…….your caution to us is that part of this is supposition? well fuck, if it is? not by much I’m betting. I wonder what erik prince has been up to for the last couple of years. He always seems to be close to trump. didn’t he even offer his military personal services like sometime in the first couple of years? erik prince was on washington journal/cspan as a guest. maybe it was the domestic protests and how trump wanted to maim us?

    really great investigating Rayne. thank you

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      I must emphasize I only know what pops up in press reporting, but I thought Prince had also pitched military services more recently (maybe for Afghanistan?).

      We can’t be surprised when he does that (it’s kind of the business he’s in), but if he was good at that business, he wouldn’t have to keep changing his company name every time his (contractors? mercenaries? Let’s go with) minions massacre a couple of dozen civilians.

      And you’re right – the scope of Trump’s attack on America/civilization/humanity is stunning, and Prince is only a minor player (assuming he wasn’t helping Trump’s surviving staff members clean out the TS/SCI part of the oval office closets and pack up for Florida).

      You’re also right that this is a heckuva post. Rayne, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

      • Rayne says:

        I wouldn’t mistake using many shell companies or subsidiaries in a holding company for a lack of success. It’s a means to compartmentalize assets and limit liabilities for other entities with same or overlapping ownership. Prince is as good as most Fortune 100 corporations at using this approach; for that matter, Koch Industries has done the same and even better since its use of LLCs has prevented the public from accessing Koch financials.

        What Zack Kopplin found was the same, and it obstructed his ability to find the beneficial ownership. Trump’s quite used to doing this as well, like his separate corporation in the Trump org which does only payroll.

        If any business(es) owned in part/full by Prince are involved in some way, the scenario will resemble Delta Crescent — and you won’t be able to point to a massacre.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Absolutely. Using scores or hundreds of individual companies is a sign of good planning. It isolates each project for income, tax, and liability purposes. It’s also necessary to deal with “doing business” concerns, which relate to what legal entity is authorized to do business in what state(s). It may also be necessary to work with partners on a transactional basis, and to get around restrictions, sanctions, etc.

  10. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Question for a lawyer:
    Yesterday, Trump’s office made a statement: “He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified.” Such an order would have to be given either orally or in writing. If in writing, it’s reasonable to assume the order would have been written by WH Counsel’s office (Pat Cipollone), presumably with some forethought as to reclassification or strictly limiting the effect of the declassification, such as restricting it to being located in the residence or in the possession of the (current) president. The order would be on file, part of the National Archive.

    If a standing order was oral, I would think the order must be interpreted very strictly for its intended purpose. If the purpose is so Trump could do his homework in his residence, and, for example, the super top secret document contains the identities of every secret agent in Russia, the order must be implied to be restricted to a location. Trump’s actual oral mumbling might have been awkwardly stated, but it must be understood that he is actually declaring his residence as a SCIF for the purpose of his reviewing the document. It’s absurd to think he declassified all copies of secret agent identities because one copy was taken to his residence. Or that the declassification persisted beyond the term of his presidency and outside the WH.

    A related question, if Trump claims he gave an oral standing order, wouldn’t he have to testify to that? If it’s a standing policy, wouldn’t there have to be a memo or handbook stating that for personnel who hand him the documents and manage classified material? I’m assuming there are staff who keep written logs of the whereabouts of top secret documents. Perhaps this is one way the FBI will be able to determine whether documents were destroyed (or sold).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I wouldn’t spend a lot of time on this. It’s an orchestrated part of Trump and his supporters flooding the zone with plausible seeming rationales. It’s an unlikely scenario and is nonsense, given Trump’s actual patterns of work (really, non-work). It seems designed to persuade the rubes that there’s nothing to see here, move along.

      This purported process is highly unlikely to have been documented contemporaneously, which would mean it’s an after-the-fact, made-up justification – and wouldn’t work. If he attempted to do this, then doing it correctly would have required a lot of staff and administrative steps, none of which Trump tends to do. In fact, he despises that sort of work and those who advocate that it be done. And we’d have heard about it long before now.

      • Rugger9 says:

        That’s even before accounting for the fact that AEA docs cannot be declassified by one person, by law. I’m sure Individual-1 would still believe he could but the actual black-letter law says otherwise.

        Maybe it’s a bit of ghoulishness but I’d almost (almost) be interested to see how Sam Alito / Barty / Clarence tries to limit Individual-1’s liabilities here. I do think Individual-1 will try to get what he paid for.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yea, the excuse is about as likely as that Trump “only had two days to pack,” so who knows what went into the bins?

          That might be true, but only if a) you ignore the scores of government-paid staff the average homeowner doesn’t have access to, who tend to arrange such things, and b) Trump spent an additional 10 weeks in complete denial.

        • earlofhuntingon says:

          Rumor has it another Trump excuse is that he’s blaming GSA personnel, whom he says packed most of the boxes Trump removed from the WH.

          That’s another attempt to muddy the water, because it’s not that. simple. Of course, Donald Trump did not do the packing. Neither did his kids or his chief of staff, etc.

          The better questions are who oversaw the process regarding these boxes. Did GSA staff actually pack “these boxes?” If so, who prepared the material to box and who told them to box it?

        • bmaz says:

          Do GSA mover people have clearances? Of course not. Just more bullshit the Trumpers are flooding the zone with.

  11. Yorkville Kangaroo says:

    As usual the quality of reportage from Rayne (and Marcy) is exceedingly high and avoids the usual shiny objects so enamoured by the MSM and alt-Right propaganda networks.

    US foreign policy has always been opaque especially in the Byzantine world of the Middle East and particularly when black gold is involved. However, even though there is every likelihood that La Famiglia Trump is up to its neck in skimming, shaking down and outright graft during these sorts of operations (How’sabout $2B for the Abraham Accords boss?) and it’s also probably likely that these do form part of the cache of documents that Rayne points to I wonder just how much of this information will ever see the light of day, guilty or not, so long as the State Department and the CIA tacitly approve of the outcomes.

  12. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Ryan Goodman of Just Security was just on MSNBC. When asked how strong is the criminal case for documents, Goodman replied the case for J6 is stronger. Wow.

    Rayne, it’s a fine article and thanks to earlofhuntingdon for addressing my question.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Goodman doesn’t have all of the facts out of the search yet. Did he say why J6’s case is better, i.e. the publicity factor? I’m guessing the actual lawyers here were trying to ignore any ‘analysis’ from press people like an annoying little brother.

    • Rayne says:

      Color me skeptical about the J6 case versus the documents case. The latter is so much more cut and dried.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, that is a nuts statement by Ryan. And especially if it is contemplating the sedition and incitement type of charges. Conspiracy to obstruct would be a lot cleaner, but still nowhere near as easy to convict on as so many people blithely claim.

        • Cosmo Le Cat says:

          That’s why I said “Wow.” I don’t want to call anybody names, but the statement was out there. Goodman was pitched a softball question and he hit it into the twilight zone.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah. Ryan is a very smart guy, and I have interacted with him many times. I like him! But cannot understand that statement by him.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Because to stay on the talking head circuit one has to utter outrageous comments like that to remain relevant.

          I’m not much of a fan of MSNBC who just seem to want to be a counter to the Fox Propaganda Network though I’ll trust their reporting a little bit more.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I was very surprised to hear Goodman say that too. Out of character for him, and he didn’t really explain why.

    • Rayne says:

      This is what I’d written, including the link to Marcy’s tweet:

      Since his testimony before the House Oversight Committee in May 2021, I’ve not been persuaded former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller is on the up and up, along with his former chief of staff Kash Patel — one of two guys Trump is known to have named his representatives to the National Archives.

      Again, Kash Patel was one of two people known to have been named by Trump as representatives to the National Archives. He should be squirming as I’ve also written here in thread.

  13. Tom-1812 says:

    “The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?” So NOW Trump wants to do something about climate change!

    • Tom-1812 says:

      But seriously, Trump’s reported message to Garland sounds similar to his instructions to his MAGA mob on January 6th to “protest peacefully and patriotically”, knowing his people were armed and would likely do the opposite once they arrived at the Capitol.

      If there is–God forbid–any widespread unrest or violence from his supporters in the coming days or weeks, Trump wants to be in a position to claim, “Well, I offered to help and never heard back, so you can’t blame me for what happened.” Of course, any appeal to Trump from the government to defuse his mob’s angry emotions would only bolster Trump’s ego and allow him to portray himself as still calling the shots on the national scene as a not-so-former former President.

    • jhinx says:

      A nuclear bomb would blow out the fires in short order. Could also be used to move flood waters and save a lot of lives.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump “biographer” Tim O’Brien, commenting on MSNBC, was trying to explain why Trump might have kept dozens of boxes of government documents. He mentioned greed and status, and then said that Trump is a man-child with a seven year-old’s brain, who just likes to hold onto things – such as the schematics of Air Force One.

    O’Brien – who is the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and has degrees from Georgetown and Columbia – admitted that those are “classified,” but claimed they do not implicate “national security.”

    You don’t need to be a fan of Harrison Ford’s Air Force One or the first episode of NCIS to know that the schematics of such an important aircraft very much implicate national security. They might also be worth a lot on the black market. (If they included only Wikipedia-level specs of a stock 747, why would they be classified and why would Trump want them?) What fucking planet is O’Brien on?

    • Rayne says:

      O’Brien being a biographer is only thinking about a biography. He’s failing to think about other entities which have also performed biographical and psychological profiles of Trump for their own ends — not merely for a future book or content during a cable TV spot.

      Trump received assistance from Putin to win the 2016 because he is as easy to manipulate as a seven-year-old boy with a daddy complex. Like this — the picture of an overgrown, besuited seven-year-old boy who’s been admonished by his daddy figure.

      This pathetic creature left some of the nation’s secret in his toy box where anybody with access to the toy box could get to them. Why O’Brien thinks this isn’t a threat to national security is beyond me.

    • Rita says:

      Trump has benefitted from media’s low expectations about his abilities. It has formed the basis for defenses or excuses, as in, “Trump couldn’t have been serious when he said on national t.v.: “Russia, if you’re listening…”.” Or, “Trump is a businessman and not a politician. So, he doesn’t understand the norms, rules, or laws.”

      Trump may not be book smart but he is clever and expert at media manipulation. And he has surrounded himself with “Yes men and women”, some of whom may be more adept at navigating the laws than they are ethical. And with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon who are, perhaps, more intelligent and craftier than Trump. I would not put it past Trump to have installed Kash Patel post-election for the purpose of rooting through intelligence files.

      • Tom-1812 says:

        Trump may not be book smart? Well, anyway …

        One big thing Trump has going for him, you might say, is that he’s not inhibited by any sense of shame or decency. In Trump World, anything goes! I mean, what sort of a guy buries his ex-wife on a golf course?!

        I’m sure when his own time comes, Donald will arrange to have his carcass stuffed and mounted on permanent display in the lobby of Trump Tower, accompanied by an endless loop of his recorded voice saying, “Welcome to Trump Tower! You’re a disgrace and a loser and a never-Trumper and you oughta be locked up! Welcome to Trump Tower! You’re a disgrace and a loser and a never-Trumper and you oughta be locked up! Welcome to Trump Tower …”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump as Jeremy Bentham, on permanent display at the defunct Trump University, is probably the only substitute his estate could manage, given that Statuary Hall, the Oval Office, and the Pantheon in Paris would be full up.

          Trump’s only emotional relationship is with himself. Ivana is a tax write-off and a hope that he can preclude the seizure of part of his golf course. That’s assuming anything was buried under the plaque. Don’s a miser and six-foot holes are expensive. Cheaper to rake up the grass and drop the plaque.

      • skua says:

        ” … but he is clever and expert at media manipulation.”
        Sure the ecology was ripe for an authoritarian nationalist to get control.
        But Trump didn’t accidently drown himself in his bath-tub – instead he expanded on his celebrity status and built up his authoritarian nationalist white supremecist base.
        He did this in the face of opposition from the establishment of the GOP. And of mockery by everyone who saw a dumb slimey NYC con-artist. Then he won the POTUS race.

        I think acknowledging the abilities of Trump that got him to POTUS makes it more obvious how dangerous he is. And how important working to stop him and his imitators is.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the Peter principle does not apply to the organs of state or to political parties.

        • Epicurus says:

          Trump received something like 74.2 million popular votes in the 2020 election. 74.2 million people voted for Trump as the engine for their hopes and dreams. The danger isn’t only with Trump and his imitators.

        • grennan says:

          Texas Monthly on the reactions of state elected officials who are happily inflaming the population:

          “State representative Bryan Slaton from Royse City, a member of the right fringe, raged that “we are at war with the Left. Watergate pales in comparison,” before saying, preposterously, that “Texas should immediately expel all FBI employees from our state until this madness ends.” ”


  15. mospeck says:

    u been away so long u hardly know the place.
    What’s TS/SCI just unpack your case
    gee it’s good to be back home
    Feds took your passports but then they give em back
    because peskov, he was on the phone
    they want u back in the USSR
    And those Ukraine girls will really knock u out.
    foxnews– Trump’s vacation plans were nearly thwarted after FBI seized his passports
    Former President Donald Trump nearly had his summer vacation plans thwarted after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago resort and took his passports.
    The FBI initially seized three passports from Trump, two of which were expired. The organization then contacted the former president and returned them on Tuesday. Trump reportedly plans to visit one of his golf resorts in the U.K. in the coming weeks.
    Trump posted about the loss of his passports prior to having them returned on Monday. He incorrectly stated that only one of the passports was expired.
    “Wow! In the raid of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”


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