How Trump’s Search Worked, with Nifty Graphic


I did a really rough, overly-simplified graphic explaining what we know about Trump’s search.

Round-edged boxes above are documents. Ovals are physical objects. Grey boxes are the boxes that documents were contained in. Turquoise represents documents that were not known to be classified or otherwise proof of any crime except (possibly, but not necessarily) a violation of the Presidential Records Act. The other colors for documents show various kinds of criminal evidence that a document might represent.

The search warrant authorizes the seizure of evidence that Trump:

  • Retained classified documents he’s not authorized to have
  • Took government documents he was obligated under the Presidential Records Act to turn over to the Archives
  • Obstructed investigations and government functions by destroying or concealing evidence

But the search method permits agents to take documents marked as classified, the boxes they’re in (with everything else in the boxes), and other boxes stored in the same place.

Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes;

Agents were allowed to search any part of Mar-a-Lago that Trump or his staff could access, but two locations we know they searched were his office and a storage closet (which I’ve indicated by two separate boxes, above).

Here are things that were seized that might have been found in Trump’s office (indicated above by the top horizontal black box):

  • A leatherbound box (that long horizontal grey box in the graphic)
    • Top Secret/SCI documents in that box
    • Everything else in that box
    • Trump’s diplomatic passport
  • Photo albums
  • An Executive Grant of clemency for Roger Stone
    • Information in that executive grant of clemency about the President of France
  • A handwritten note
  • Other documents that include privileged information which may be evidence of obstruction

Here are things that were seized that might have been in that storage closet (indicated above by the bottom horizontal black box):

  • Boxes with Top Secret documents and everything else in the boxes
  • Boxes with Secret documents and everything else in the boxes
  • Boxes with Confidential documents and everything else in the boxes
  • All the other boxes stored with the boxes with classified documents
  • Boxes that happen to include Trump’s expired passports
  • Boxes that include privileged documents which may be evidence of obstruction

At least some of the agents that did the search were a filter team, which means they’re agents who are not part of the primary investigative team. Before any agents from the primary investigative team looked at the materials, these filter agents sorted through the evidence and determined what documents were privileged or what boxes included privileged information. Everything that was deemed unprivileged seems to have been inventoried on what I’ve called the “CLASS receipt” signed by a Special Agent. (See these two posts for further discussions of the two receipts.) Those are marked by the lefthand green box above.

Then, it appears that someone else (possibly the Supervisory Special Agent) reviewed those privileged documents and identified any that could be seized anyway — either because they included classified documents, or because they were proof of obstruction. According to a Fox News report, those were all inventoried on what I’ve called the “SSA receipt.” That seems to indicate that anything privileged, regardless of where it was discovered (for example, if it was in the leatherbound box, as I showed above), was seized and inventoried separately. I’ve bolded those in my list above and marked them with the righthand green box.

So the process for Trump’s search likely looked like this:

  1. Is it a government document dated January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021? If no, go to step 2; if yes, go to step 3
  2. Is it classified, in a box w/classified, or a closet with classified?
  3. If yes, is it privileged?
  4. If no, then put in CLASS inventory
  5. If yes, is it proof of obstruction?
  6. If yes, then put it in the SSA inventory

Since the seizure, agents appear to have at least started the scope review — the process of sorting through which materials are proof that Trump stole classified information, documents otherwise covered by the Presidential Records Act, or proof of obstruction. The stuff that is not covered in the investigative scope, the FBI will return to Trump.

The first such items — his current diplomatic passport and two expired ones — were returned yesterday. Those likely were seized because they were stored in a box that either contained classified documents or were stored in a closet with other boxes that contained classified documents. Above, I’ve suggested that Trump’s diplo passport may have been seized in that leatherbound box where he allegedly kept TS/SCI documents, and I’ve shown how the other passports may have been in a box of documents that were in the storage closet with other boxes which had classified documents.

emptywheel Trump Espionage coverage

Trump’s Timid (Non-Legal) Complaints about Attorney-Client Privilege

18 USC 793e in the Time of Shadow Brokers and Donald Trump

[from Rayne] Other Possible Classified Materials in Trump’s Safe

Trump’s Stolen Documents

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

[from Peterr] Merrick Garland Preaches to an Overseas Audience

Three Ways Merrick Garland and DOJ Spoke of Trump as if He Might Be Indicted

The Legal and Political Significance of Nuclear Document[s] Trump Is Suspected to Have Stolen

Merrick Garland Calls Trump’s Bluff

Trump Keeps Using the Word “Cooperate.” I Do Not Think That Word Means What Trump Wants the Press To Think It Means

[from Rayne] Expected Response is Expected: Trump and Right-Wing DARVO

DOJ’s June Mar-a-Lago Trip Helps Prove 18 USC 793e

The Likely Content of a Trump Search Affidavit

All Republican Gang of Eight Members Condone Large-Scale Theft of Classified Information, Press Yawns

Some Likely Exacerbating Factors that Would Contribute to a Trump Search

FBI Executes a Search Warrant at 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480

The ABCs (and Provisions e, f, and g) of the Espionage Act

Trump’s Latest Tirade Proves Any Temporary Restraining Order May Come Too Late

How Trump’s Search Worked, with Nifty Graphic

134 replies
  1. Pragmatic Progressive says:

    Now that Marcy laid out what is known in a simple graphic, 45 might start to comprehend what is going on.

    • Rayne says:

      It took me about 5 seconds with Marcy’s graphic to think of the Helsinki summit and his trip to North Korea. What would a diplomatic passport, mementos, and TS/SCI have in common, after all?

      What other trips he made overseas would have been as challenging to US national security due to intelligence collection available?

      What will Trump think looking at this graphic, or his co-conspirators or enablers? We already know Stone’s sweating it because he felt a need to make a statement in social media.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Ha! I say flood the zone with the graphic:
        A board game, playing cards, posters, billboards. Maybe even see if Hunter Biden would use it as inspiration for a large abstract painting to install at the Hirshhorn and Old Post Office/Waldorf Astoria Washington, D.C.

        • Rayne says:

          I lean away from KSA because it was very early in his term and both Kushner and Mnuchin had been there and were far more competent at the kind of criming needed.

  2. ExpatR&RDino-sour says:

    Is it frivolous of me to mention that the graphic has CLASS recipt? It is a cool graphic though.

  3. Tom-1812 says:

    Whenever I hear about Trump’s leatherbound box I think of Senor Wences and the head of Pedro in his wooden box. “S’okay?” “S’awright!”

      • FiestyBlueBird says:

        How I wished I’d had a functioning Thing to hand out candy during Covid Halloweens. Honest to God. I even went online looking for a robotic Thing. Nothing was out there good enough to do the trick on treats, though. But it was fun to imagine, anyway…

          • Sonso says:

            Better make sure they are of legal age; you wouldn’t want to get caught up in Candygate. Interestingly, we really haven’t heard much from all the harassed teens at the Miss Universe pageant (especially in Russia).

      • picklefactory says:

        I would like Thing to do my filing.

        “Oh, Thing. Would you be a dear and fetch those family recipes for me? That’s right, the ones marked TOP SECRET.”

        Naturally Thing would have to roll retrieved documents up into a scroll and fasten them with a ribbon in order to project them out of its box.

      • WiserWords2 says:

        I knew, way back in my subconscious, exactly what video you were referring to. Good lawd, you are so right, but yet so wrong, for reviving that song which will be stuck in my head for the next few weeks.

    • emptywheel says:

      As I opened the shitty Mac Powerpoint software to do this I was thinking, “Damnit, I wish I had become competent at drawing software years ago.”

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        I’ve done worse in PowerPoint, and I’ve seen FAR worse!
        But seriously, it was helpful.

      • Richieboy says:

        I recommend Apple’s own presentation software, Keynote. For this Mac user it is vastly superior to PPT in every way. And Mac users already have it. It can even output to PPT if needed.

        • bg says:

          I am pretty much a dolt at this sort of thing, but I learned to use Keynote for freeway and other large projections. If I can do it, anyone can.

          I had a lot of fun with projections on a freeway overpass during the Republican National Convention last time. Every night a new concept with daily updated Covid death stats on one screen. “It was Melania in the garden with an ax.” “Be Best.” “Hasta La Vista, Alternative Facts.” “Dump Trump.” Etc.

            • Bardi says:

              My fifth grade daughter figured out your chart pretty well. I realize she is smarter than donnie, but, still.
              Thank you.

            • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

              An understandable wish, but no software in the world could improve this graphic in any material way. Truly, there are so many folks out there who know those programs and have some sort of training in information design (and, god knows, even make a living at it) who are incapable of making a graphic as cogent as yours. One more reason to thank you for your absolutely unparalleled work.

            • Lawnboy says:

              The Windows release NT comes to mind…..we called “Nice Try”…but your graphic is just fine.

              Might I suggest that it be used as a Rorschach image for testing 45 if an insanity plea comes up?

              “What do you think of this image Mr. T.”?

              There will be Ketchup on the walls I tell ya!!!

              Perhaps not.


            • bg says:

              Well, with Keynote it was easy to scale and make other alterations on site with the projector. At highway speeds, the messaging has to be pretty succinct.

            • Knox Bronson says:

              Keynote is great. I’ve done lots of presentations with Keynote.
              Your graphic does a fine job of communicating what was gathered by the FBI, Marcy. Thank you.
              I saw the “Diplo Passport” graphic. Out of curiosity, I googled “Diplomatic Passport US” and the first link was to Newsweek. Holy crap – that place is straight MAGA/OANville now.

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              My sister, trained as a medical illustrator, has of necessity become a computer design professional. She has to keep up with software, if she can afford it. But she still adheres to the principles you used here, because the goal is to communicate to your audience. Which you have done, clearly.

      • Emily68 says:

        Years ago, when I was getting ready to retire, I made 6 or 8 flowcharts so people would know how to do what I did. It would take about 20 minutes to draw it on a piece of paper and then the whole rest of the day to turn it in to a word document.

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. It’s been a while since you commented here; I’ve reverted your username to your original “Emily68” in case you’d forgotten it. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  4. phred says:

    And this, EW, is why I always read you first.

    By the way, I suggest adding an update with the series of “If yes, then” list of questions you posted on Twitter. I found that list especially clarifying for how the sorting went. Not to knock your graphic, though, just in addition : ) Just my 2 cents.

      • emptywheel says:

        Btw, Phred, I went out for a beer event yesterday with a craft brewer who brews sours. After the formal event he and I and a guy who grew up in Limerick were explaining to me why even in Donegal, which has several of the best craft breweries in the country, you can’t find those craft brews on tap locally.

        You’ll be unsurprised it has to do with Guinness being assholes.

        Anyway, when you come visit me in Ireland (you’ll be glad to know), we live close enough to Beamishtopia in Cork that there are about 10 local pubs that have Beamish.

      • emptywheel says:

        Btw, Phred, I went out for a beer event yesterday with a craft brewer who brews sours. After the formal event he and I and a guy who grew up in Limerick were explaining to me why even in Donegal, which has several of the best craft breweries in the country, you can’t find those craft brews on tap locally.

        You’ll be unsurprised it has to do with Guinness being assholes.

        Anyway, when you come visit me in Ireland (you’ll be glad to know), we live close enough to Beamishtopia in Cork that there are about 10 local pubs that have Beamish.

        I did tell about the pub close to Fenway with the only Beamish in Boston.

        • phred says:


          First, thanks!

          Second, I’m not sure I’ve told you about the taste I have developed for sours ; ) I have become quite the seasonal beer connoisseur… stouts (porters in a pinch) in winter, sours and unfiltered wheats (with lemon or orange slices) in summer. Clearly, I need to visit you repeatedly throughout the year! ; )

          I trust that in spite of Guinness, one can get the local crafts bottled somewhere, right? Or does one visit the local brewery tap rooms to get around the problem? Where there is a will there is a way ; )

          Would love to see Ireland, have never been. We’ll put it on the list. And in the meantime, we’ll work on our limerick-ing skills ; )

          • emptywheel says:

            Apparently it’s not legal for a brewery to have a tap room.

            Our local brewery has a separate bar, one that’s within site of the castle, but which for some reason closes early.

            This craft brewer instead bought a pub license and built vats in there.

            The logic the local Limerick guy made for the availability of the local craft was that there are fewer American tourists demanding Guinness.

            • phred says:

              No tap room?!?!? Good God, EW, what kind of forsaken land have you moved to??? ; )

              I love Guinness (& Beamish!), but they seem to have a pretty thin skin. How much more fun would Irish pub crawls be with different tipples to tap? Glad your local place set up their own pub. Can’t wait to try it : )

            • timbo says:

              Cork? Ay, are you hanging at Franciscan Wells much then? I’ve never been but a buddy of mine was assistant brewer there back when they brewed their Chandon Stout…I shed a tear every now and then for the departed bottles… and for my friend, who has moved on even further afield internationally now due to the lack of opportunity in the US beer community for him and his wife. Alas!

              And sigh. Maybe some day I’ll grace those Irish green shores…it’s great that you’re enjoying Cork for those of us stuck in our own muck so much that we can only dream of managing it.

    • Manuel Gonzalez says:

      I have read here FIRST for many years too. Wasting little time on NYT and Wapo by scanning briefly at what they choose to say or not. More and more, wishing that those that labor inside our “justice system” avail themselves of Marcy’s valuable perspective and amazing diligence. Now, I marvel at the expanding possibilities, if the fruits of her labor and commenters enhancements inspire those reading and commenting from abroad. I intuit that this has helped me to avoid becoming cynical and continue to pitch in my two cents to make a better world for my grandchildren and their peers. Shine on…..reminding readers to donate here more!

  5. JohnForde says:

    I have a feeling Punaise will have something to contribute re your graphic endeavor. That cat is good with words.

  6. jhinx says:

    If a document is privileged but it’s not proof of obstruction, does it go back in the CLASS inventory? I’m guessing that’s the only place it could go, since their are only 2 receipts.

  7. hammbro says:

    I have a gut feeling the DOJ does not REALLY want to spend 3+ years fully digging into January 6th and bringing charges against DJT. That doesn’t mean DOJ won’t dig up all the answers for January 6th, and hold others accountable. As such, the Mar-a-Lago snipe hunt, seems to be the best “open and shut” case of Guilt to pursue and secure DJT’s misdeeds. I guess I am surprised, TS/SCI materials were in his Office, totally unsecured, unless they were found in the Safe.

    • Tech Support says:

      Yes and no? There’s nothing about this records issue that is a snipe hunt. These are real crimes that have led in recent years to real hard time for people who probably thought they weren’t doing anything serious.

      OTOH it is pretty clear that these crimes are simple, direct, and likely far easier to prove in court than seditious conspiracy and all the other crimes related to J6 and the failed coup. It’s a perverse blessing that DJT is pathologically corrupt and can’t stop himself from doing not just crimes but dumb and avoidable ones.

      Moreover, rather than thinking of this parallel investigation as a “substitute” for a coup-related prosecution, we should hope that his unforced errors result in an *increased* likelihood of a coup-related prosecution because of evidence gleaned from this effort.

  8. pigah says:

    Didn’t realize that the info about French president was tied to the Stone clemency document until now.

    • Steven Smith says:

      I continue to wonder just why the DOJ receipt was so specific as to this being about clemency for Stone, let alone that it was associated with the French President; it seems that they could have just said something more-or-less generic. Given that they have continued to control the narrative (as opposed to the off-stage caterwaluling) I suspect that it was put out there as bait and/or some sort of implicit threat…

      • timbo says:

        Good catch!

        It’s likely specific to differentiate it from other similar or related documents that they were looking at/looking for. There are other less probable reasons as to why that document is specified in as much detail as it is. For example, some of it may be an attempt to put pressure on Stone or others who may have perjured themselves in some way. There are even more far afield explanations that might make some sense if there was adequate context to understand the signal such a specific description sends.

      • emptywheel says:

        I hope to return to that soon.

        But one scenario is if there’s a plain sheet of paper saying, “I grant Stone a full pardon for blah blah blah Macron.”

        If it’s a real pardon, then it can be seized as a govt doc. But if it’s play-acting they do while swapping wives, it’s not a govt doc.

        So by describing the language in there — which perhaps the Feebs knew to be true and/or might be classified — they could justify taking what otherwise might be an unbelievably inflammatory doc that he might one day challenge. As it is, Trump hasn’t made a peep about it, bc he can’t w/o causing himself more legal troubles.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          It was always in his constitution to take a Solomon oath to Kash in on everything he could. He knew how to Bobb and weave his way by means of a Trusty counselor, leaving no Stone unturned, in his plan to Trump up a story to carry out his Big Mac-run.

      • WiserWords2 says:

        Yes, that reference had me scratching my head. Perhaps that was the label on the box? If so, that just leads me to scratch my head even harder.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Not really.

          If it says ‘President of France’ it means it’s a letter of an official nature.

          If it was personal to Macron or one of his predecessors it woulld have said so.

    • nord dakota says:

      I really want the responses to the question “Why did DJT keep Roger’s clemency order at Mar a Lago?”
      e.g.: if Roger misbehaved, he would threaten to flush it down the toilet
      and so on
      I mean, I REALLY want the answers. Funny, real, or both.

      • Spank Flaps says:

        Stone: Hey boss, I’m going Henry Hill on you.
        Trump: (sound of toilet flushing) And your pardon is wrapped around a turd on its way to the Atlantic Ocean.

  9. DougKane says:

    Judge Reinhart has now scheduled an in person hearing on the motion to unseal the affidavit and other documents for Thursday at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

    • Frank Probst says:

      That’ll be interesting. Judge Rheinhart himself has already seen first-hand what happens when Trump’s followers find out who you are and then start harassing you. Everyone in that affidavit is at risk for the same treatment. I doubt he’ll be too inclined to unseal the affidavit as a result.

      • punaise says:

        Good one. And the role of “Trump’s chances of emerging from this unscathed” goes to Slim Pickens.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    Ms. Wheeler’s chart reminds me of fixing two sections of cedar fence that were demolished by an enormous tree branch. I got it done. Its passable. But it does look like a first time result. Her chart looks a little better than my fence.

    • jhinx says:

      Heh. Continued OT…

      Been there with the cedar fence. High winds blew down two to three 8-foot panels at a time, four separate times, over a period of 5 years. I couldn’t get any pro fence company to quote anything reasonable, if they’d even call me back. Wife said, go across the street and ask those landscapers if they’d do the labor (why me?). Landscapers said, let’s take a look, said yeah, we could do it, make sure you have all the materials and call us. At reconstruction time, these guys brought in a tub of tools, dug the post holes, removed the old concrete, helped me install the posts, did all the heavy lifting, made sure everything was plum, level, and lined up on the property line, and removed all the flotsom, all for a couple hundred bucks each time. They did in a couple of hours what would’ve taken me a weekend. I always gave them extra because they saved me so much, and they always smiled and said, any time.

      • bg says:

        Once I had some kids who were probably ditching school or otherwise not attending come and ask for work. I was rebuilding a fence, and I think it did involve some digging and concrete to replace a couple of posts. I made them use a level to get the posts plumb and also to install the rails and pickets. I figured it was something of a day’s learning. They did a good job. It is not rocket science. Get the pickets level across the top with a tight string. I’m trying to quit with that kind of work now. Happy to find others to do it.

        • ollie says:

          Lived in my home since 08. neighbor next door planted a tree that was too close to my only garden spot. 3 diff owners, tree now totally covers my raised b. call a hoedad to do some cutting. He’d just got his bucket fixed and was looking for a job. ;). $100 and he cut, grab limbs to avoid garden….the sky opened and it was glorious. breathtaking. guy 1st went and told neighbor I had a right to cut the tree. tree #2 he trimmed up really fine for the neighbor. carried it all away. I gave him $150 and almost cried, lol. 10/10++ local guy too. lol

  11. UKStephen says:

    As a tourist visiting a small town in Ireland near Cork I asked for a Guinness in the pub. Was told we don’t serve that bilge water here. Will you have a Murphy’s?

    • Old Antarctic Explorer says:

      My daughter visited Cork a few weeks ago on business. I texted her and asked if she’d had a Guinness yet.
      She replied:
      “I was told in no uncertain terms that in Cork stout is Murphy’s”

      • Rayne says:

        LOL none of the above. Guinness (a Diageo brand), Budweiser (a AB InBev brand), and Coors (a Molson Coors brand) are among the top five brewers in the world and they’re all dickish about their marketspace.

        If anything, Diageo is Guinness of Eire because Guinness was one of the founding companies/brands of Diageo. Diageo is ~2X bigger than Molson Coors but AB InBev is +2X bigger than Diageo. All of them are global and trying to beat back the Chinese beverage company Kweichow Moutai which overtook Diageo a handful of years ago.

        • Rugger9 says:

          I was thinking in terms of flavor (or lack thereof). I’d certainly agree that market consolidation leads to crap products. FWIW, I’ve heard that the reason the Danes export Carlsberg is so they don’t have to drink it. So close to Germany and a brewer still coughs up a hairball, so to speak.

        • posaune says:

          Trying to recall the handshake deal Guinness made with the Republic and the North. They made the brew in one and bottled in the other?

          • Rayne says:

            No idea. I only know they brew in/just outside Dublin, after a brouhaha a little over a dozen years ago when Diageo proposed brewing Guinness someplace other than Dublin.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Dubliners prefer their Guinness less than 24 hours old, when its freshest. Does taste good that way.

              • Fergal says:

                Hi Earl, I was a Dublin bartender for 20 years. Respectfully that is a just not true and physically impossible. Guinness/Diageo and other brewers generally deliver to pubs/hotels etc once per week.
                Pubs would have to accept keg deliveries everyday to serve 1 day old Guinness.
                I have never ever ever been asked how old a keg is.
                Been an EW reader for years and finally a subject comes up that I actually have knowledge about! It’s a big day for me.

                  • Molly Pitcher says:

                    bmaz, I need a recommendation for a restaurant to go to in Phoenix tomorrow evening ?

                    Been on the road since Aug 4, 17 states. A bit road weary !!

                    • bmaz says:

                      What kind of food? If you want Mexican, the Barrio Cafe is among the best in the world. Durants is fantastic for steaks, but expensive.

                    • Molly Pitcher says:

                      Thanks bmaz, will try Barrio Cafe. You can get a good steak anywhere. I want local authenticity !

                    • bmaz says:

                      It is absolutely fabulous. But go the original one on 16th Street. There is the Barrio Queen in Scottsdale, but Sylvia does not run it anymore.

      • wetzel says:

        James Joyce once said that Guiness Stout was the “wine of Ireland”. He submitted a slogan to Guiness, which they didn’t use, “The free. The flow. The frothy freshener!” choosing instead “Guiness is good for you!”

        Kid Rock once said “I am happy to make money. I want to make more money. More music. Eat Big Macs and drink Budweiser”

        • missinggeorgecarlin says:

          Please forgive me if I told this story before but it might be my favorite prank.

          Tampa has a very liberal, progressive radio station, WMNF 88.5, community conscious radio. Back in 2017, there was a daily show about politics and I was a frequent caller.

          I asked the host “Did you hear what happened?” when I got on the radio. He says “What happened?” I said “CNN is reporting that President Trump has appointed Kid Rock as US Secretary of State.”

          The host was aghast and speechless for a moment. He said “Uhhhh, I don’t have the internet up right now. Uhhhhmmmm, oh my….are you, are you kidding?” Me: “Yes!” Host: “Oh my God man, don’t do that. For a split second, I thought that was real.”

        • Christopher Blanchard says:

          Dorothy Sayers, the woman who wrote the excellent Peter Whimsy detective stories and erudite stuff like a translation of Dante, was an advertising copy writer for a while. She wrote the Guiness slogan ‘If Guiness is good for you, just think what two can do’ (from the Guiness emblem of a Toucan bird).

  12. Badger Robert says:

    Whatever were the initial targets, the Justice Department doesn’t have to do all this work and include 18 USC 793 in the listed offenses just to recover the documents. There is some espionage/money laundering aspect to the investigation that DofJ is still investigating. Garland and the filings make it explicit, it isn’t over by any means.
    Some of the deliberation by Garland may have been whether to apply for a search warrant.
    But some of the deliberation may have been about the questions of why to apply and how to separate the material.

  13. Retired guy says:

    Seeking clarification on the term “privileged proof of obstruction”

    If “privileged” refers to potential atty-client privilege material, it could be seized if it was evidence of a crime (obstruction), given the crime-fraud exception. This would explain why a filter team was present.

    Have I got this right? If not, whose “privilege” is intended?

    I quibble with your unnecessary apology “rough, oversimplified diagram”. You are depicting your considerable insight on a compact graphic, always a useful exercise. All such diagrams are a simplification, based on editorial judgement. I would substitute the term “quickly-produced graphic”.

    All quickly-produced graphics can be improved, a different skill from editorial writing, but this diagram is clear in its information.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. We know that all the material that DOJ told Trump was privileged is on the SSA receipt. Something tied to the obstruction would be the most obvious explanation.

  14. Frank Probst says:

    One of the reasons that the DOJ executed the search warrant was that the surveillance footage showed people moving boxes into and out of some of these areas. Keep in mind that the DOJ knows exactly who these people are. It’s not like they were wearing baseball caps and sunglasses to avoid the cameras. The Secret Service would have had to let these people into the building. We don’t know whether or not the DOJ knows who took what where. But they know who to ask. I’m VERY curious to see what the timeline looks like for those folks.

  15. Frank Probst says:

    Question for…well, I’m not even sure who. Does Trump get to have a diplomatic passport forever? I was surprised that he still had one to begin with. I seem to remember something about the possibility of Dick Cheney being prosecuted for war crimes if he went out of the country after he left office. Wouldn’t he have had a diplomatic passport, if you get one forever? Or do you not get diplomatic immunity for war crimes?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Much of that risk depends upon where one goes. Former heads of state are not protected by virtue of their office, remember what happened to Pinochet when he went to Spain. A judge there shanghaied him off to the ICC for crimes against humanity and it stuck.

      • MB says:

        Yeah but he used the “frail old man” trope to be allowed to go back to Chile and die peacefully there.

    • gmoke says:

      USAmerica is not a signatory to the ICC. IANAL, but I suspect that means USAmerican citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction. No war crimes for you, Mr Trmp (at least in The Hague).

  16. klynn says:

    OT but related.
    EW tweet:
    “Unless MSNBC asks David Petraeus to explain why he should have gotten five years in prison for the crimes he admitted to, there is literally NO reason to have him on TV right now.

    This is stunning.”

    What is the best way to get out in front of anything Petraeus might say?

    This panel seems extremely irresponsible:

    Watch at 2pmET today

    General David Petraeus

    on MSNBC.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Perhaps someone on the panel will ask Petraeus that pointed question, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

  17. Zinsky says:

    Again, Ms. Wheeler, you are invaluable in providing clarity and definition to the lay population about the more arcane bits of national security and evidentiary protocols. This graphic really helped me understand the organization of the seized material. Digby had an interesting post this morning, comparing Sandy Bergen’s pilfering of national security documents with what Trump did and why it is very different:

  18. Scott Church says:

    Have you seen the memorabilia?
    The dusty old memorabilia
    Have you seen the memorabilia?
    Souvenirs of perfect doom,
    In the back of Donald Trump’s back room…

    (With apologies to Donald Fagen)

  19. Mister Sterling says:

    So word on the street is that this is what it’s all about:

    The theory is this: Trump needs infusions of cash to keep his grift schemes running (which if you think about it, are schemes upon schemes, and the only human being capable of staying on top of them is Marcy Wheeler). Trump reached a stage in which he was willing to sell US nuclear tech to the Saudis in exchange for cash plus a Saudi bailout of Jared Kushner, who still owed $1.4 Billion dollars after overpaying for 666 Fifth Avenue. And that loan was due in March 2020.

    Selling nuclear tech to the Saudis who want to wipe Yemen and Iran off the face of the planet is probably the worst thing Trump has ever done. And that was difficult for me to type, because man, as a New Yorker, I have known of Trump’s crimes since the 1990s. He does them all in the open.

  20. cmarlowe says:

    So the process for Trump’s search likely looked like this:
    1. Is it classified, in a box w/classified, or a closet with classified?
    2. If yes, is it privileged?
    3. If no, then put in CLASS inventory
    4. If yes, is it proof of obstruction?
    5. If yes, then put it in the SSA inventory

    Since we are getting graphical, it would be nice to have the above decision list in flow-chart form. I would do it but I have no way to post that here.

  21. my2cnz says:

    New piece in WaPo: ” So after Trump’s endless abuse, Pence allies might be slipping in the shiv at a vulnerable moment.”

    “As Mr. Trump sought to hold on to power, two of Mr. Pence’s senior aides — Marc Short, his chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, his counsel — indexed and boxed all of his government papers, according to three former officials with knowledge of the work.

    Mr. Jacob spent the bulk of his final few days in government preparing the final boxes, with the goal of ensuring that Mr. Pence left office without a single paper that did not belong to him, one of the officials said.”

  22. ducktree says:

    There was a young lass from Kilkenny
    Whose usual charge was a penny
    But for half of that sum…

    Carry on!

  23. Hychka says:

    Off topic but interesting…DNYNZ reports “F.B.I. Interviewed Top White House Lawyers About Missing Trump Documents” “Mr. Philbin tried to help the National Archives retrieve the material, two of the people familiar with the discussions said. But the former president repeatedly resisted entreaties from his advisers.

    “”It’s not theirs, it’s mine,” several advisers say Mr. Trump told them.”

    How does this figure in?

  24. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Trump reveals his 4 part classification system:

    1. If his name appears anywhere on a document, it’s classified as mine.
    2. If a friend’s or enemy’s name appears on a document, it’s mine.
    3. If it’s in his possession, it’s mine.
    4. If it’s in the toilet, it’s not mine.

  25. Nick Caraway says:

    Interesting, at least to me, how Russian state TV views the seizure of docs at MAL. From the Daily Beast’s Julia Davis, who seems to spend a lot of time monitoring Russian media:

    ‘In the most recent broadcast of the state TV show Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, host Vladimir Solovyov remarked, “I’m very worried for our agent Trump. They found everything at Mar-a-Lago, they got packages of documents. In all seriousness, they say he should be executed as a person that was ready to hand off nuclear secrets to Russia….”

    “….Having initially believed that better times are ahead and that Trump’s return to the White House was imminent, prominent Russian propagandists dubbed him “the Teflon Don” and predicted that he would overcome the FBI’s investigation as merely the latest speed bump in his alleged “persecution by the deep state.” Now that more details have emerged, their views have become pessimistic. Appearing on the program Solovyov Live on Monday, Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Middle East, grimly noted that—in light of the baggage carried by Trump—the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, known in Russia as “Number Two,” may be a better bet for the Republicans….”

  26. harpie says:

    THANK YOU to Marcy, Rayne, bmaz, Ed and Jim, as well as the unparalleled EW Commenting Community for all of the news and analysis about these developments!

    As I attempt to process this absolute tsunami of information, I keep thinking:

    Did TRUMP store them in a box?
    Did he secure them with a lock?
    Did he move them here and there?
    Did he […???]
    [HELP! This is where there seems to be a scratch on the recording in my head.]

    • Ddub says:

      Thank you Harpie! I’m relatively new here but I can’t count the links I’ve followed that you’ve referred. And as a non-twitterer – invaluable!

    • MB says:

      (sorry – sounded like an incomplete poem) !

      Did TRUMP store them in a box?
      Did he secure them with a lock?
      Did he move them here and there?
      Did he eat them after lunch?
      Did he do it on a dare?

  27. punaise says:

    With apologies to harpie and ham and eggs everywhere:

    Would you store them
    With your docs?
    Would you store them
    Without locks?
    Would you put them
    In a box?
    Would you trust them
    To, uhhh, Fox?

    I did not store them here or there.
    I did not store them anywhere.
    But if I did, I’m on the lam
    They belong to me, Scram-I-am.

    I like greed acts and scam!
    I do! I like them, Scram-I-am!

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      According to the Trump camp nothing. Which would make the inability to secure the materials even worse.

  28. Fenix says:

    Would love to read opinions on the possible unsealing of even a small part of the MAL search affidavit

Comments are closed.