Next Steps in the Trump Stolen Documents Investigation

A number of people have gotten impatient that the search of the former President’s golf resort has not yet yielded an indictment. “If you or I did what he did,” a common refrain goes, “we’d already be in prison.”

I often point to the example of Joshua Schulte, the former CIA coder convicted last month of the Vault 7 and 8 leaks. He wasn’t jailed until almost nine months after the initial search of his apartment, and only then because he violated bail conditions on charges related to Child Sexual Abuse Materials allegedly found on his server. He wasn’t charged on the Espionage Act charges until 15 months after that initial search.

And it sounds like Trump won’t be charged anytime soon. At a hearing before Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart last week, the head of DOJ’s counterintelligence section, Jay Bratt, said the investigation is in its “early stages.” That may suggest that Trump or others are suspected of more than just storing classified information in insecure conditions and refusing to give it back. Perhaps the people entering and exiting the storage closet at Mar-a-Lago did something more than just hide stuff from DOJ. Or perhaps the obstruction investigation — which may be obstruction of this investigation or others — is more complex than we imagine (which isn’t hard, because most journalists are simply ignoring that suspected crime).

Whatever the reason Bratt stated that DOJ will need to do significant further investigation, there are steps that would be required in any case. There are four steps that the FBI would take before considering charges.

Filter Review

There are two kinds of reviews that the FBI will do of this material: A filter review and a scope review (though these words are getting muddled in the coverage, including in this piece, which is the only one that has reported on the process).

The filter review is done by agents who are not part of the investigative team. They make sure that nothing privileged gets to the investigative team.

According to reportsand Bratt’s email to Trump’s lawyers — at least some of the agents who did the search at Mar-a-Lago were a filter team (which makes sense, because they were sorting through the contents of boxes onsite). According to Fox News, the materials on one of two receipts — what I call the SSA receipt — included privileged material.

In other words, the FBI had cause to seize stuff that involves Trump’s communications with his lawyers. That’s not surprising. Among the crimes under investigation is the destruction, alteration, or concealment of materials to obstruct an or multiple investigations. I’ve previously pointed to a number of instances where Trump did that with the assistance of lawyers (I’ve taken out a paragraph of Trump Organization examples, because only government documents were permitted to be seized on the search warrant):

  • One thing Trump is likely to have withheld is the Perfect Transcript between him and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which is something Congress was entitled to get during impeachment. That transcript was hidden from Congress by White House lawyer John Eisenberg, among other lawyers, thereby according the transcript a weak privilege claim, but one easily overcome by the obstructive nature of the choice to withhold it.
  • While one draft of Trump’s termination letter to Jim Comey was ultimately turned over to Mueller (after reports that the only extant copy was one preserved by DOJ lawyers), the Mueller Report narrative surrounding it makes it clear that Trump and Stephen Miller worked over several drafts before the one shared with others. Those earlier drafts were likely not turned over, in part because White House Counsel lawyers advised Trump that these drafts should “[n]ot [see the] light of day.” Again, that’s legal advice, but also proof of documents that were illegally withheld from the Mueller investigation.
  • I don’t want to even imagine what advice from Rudy Giuliani that Trump has withheld from various investigations, particularly pertaining to January 6. Most of that would be (shitty) legal advice. If it was also withheld from proper investigations, though, it’d also be proof of obstruction under 18 USC 1519.

Given the Fox News report of ongoing filter review, it’s likely those materials, at least, will be reviewed a second time to make sure they’re proof of obstruction before being shared with investigators.

Scope Review

Then there’s a separate review, usually by agents who are part of the investigative team, to pull out only the documents that are relevant to the investigation.

In this case, however, and because the warrant permitted the seizure of materials stored with classified information but the crimes under investigation all pertain to Federal documents, there may be an initial review to pull out anything that is not a government record, so that can be returned to the Former.

Then a team will review the seized materials to see if it is evidence of a crime — either that Trump took documents that should have been sent to the Archives, he kept classified documents at Mar-a-Lago after being asked and subpoenaed for them, or that Trump attempted to destroy, alter, or conceal records relating to an or several investigations. The first category — government documents that would be evidence of 18 USC 2071 but not other crimes — might be copied and catalogued and sent to the Archives.

Classification Review

As part of the process both of determining whether something is classified and assessing whether a viable prosecution could be pursued, the agencies whose classified information ended up in a poorly protected closet at a golf resort will need to conduct classification reviews to make sure the information really is classified.

A former CIA lawyer did a long thread the other day describing this process; I’ve included three key points below.

That’s all part of the process of figuring out whether Trump committed a crime. Before DOJ ever charged Trump for any of this, they would also have to work with the agencies to find documents that the agencies would be willing to expose to the prosecution process, which would involve sharing with Trump and his cleared defense attorneys. If Trump went to trial on Espionage Act charges, DOJ would have to declassify or “substitute” classified information (I wrote about that process here; here’s another good overview). And the agencies would not want to do this with the most sensitive documents.

If Trump were ever charged, DOJ would likely pick a subset of the documents that conveyed the gravity of what Trump had taken but that the agencies were willing to subject to this process. In the case of Hal Martin, who also took stacks and stacks of classified documents home from work, he was indicted for twenty documents out of the stacks and stacks of stuff he took.


Trump is suspected not just of stealing classified documents, there are known documents that he was suspected of hoarding at his home — according to the WaPo, including documents about nuclear weapons.

So in addition to all the other reviews and an inventory that the FBI will make of what it seized, between FBI and NARA, they’re going to need to compare the seized documents with the existing catalog to see whether all the documents known to be missing were seized and whether the seized documents identify other missing documents.

If there are known documents that witnesses say had been at Mar-a-Lago but they weren’t found in the search … then things will get really interesting.

emptywheel Trump Espionage coverage

Maggie Haberman: Heads It’s Only Obstruction, Tails It’s Not Obstruction

The French President May Be Contained Inside the Roger Stone Clemency

Which of the Many Investigations Trump Has Obstructed Is DOJ Investigating?

The Known and Likely Content of Trump’s Search Warrant

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

Pat Philbin Knows Why the Bodies Are Buried

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

100 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    I have a question about this assertion: “only government documents were permitted to be seized on the search warrant”. I don’t see that in the search warrant. I would think that “Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings” could include non-governmental documents. For example, if the handwritten note was dated July 1, 2022 and it said “Tell Kash to destroy Zelenskyy transcript”, that would be fair game.

    • emptywheel says:

      Ah, you mean a note written after he was no longer the President ordering destruction of govt docs from when he was?

      • Cosmo Le Cat says:

        Non-government documents located in the same container/box as a document with classification markings could also be seized. The warrant allowed seizure of “[a.] 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.”

        Q for a lawyer (bmaz): Does this only allow seizure of EMPTY containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together OR can those be seized together with any and all documents located within? It seems to me that the verbiage in parentheses should have been repeated.

        • Peterr says:

          The concern is that you want to get not only the classified documents in question, but any notes or documents that might have been created BASED on those classified documents. If someone was creating a document based on the classified materials, the govt does not want that document becoming public any more than they want the original materials to become public.

          The warrant is basically saying “if there is classified material in a box, take the whole box and sort out later what is and is not classifed/improperly taken from the WH.” The second clause is saying that if containers are plausibly stored as a group, take the whole group. Imagine a filing cabinet with folders inside of drawers inside of a cabinet. If you find classified or WH/NARA materials in one of the folders, take the whole cabinet (the collective storage unit) and sort it all out later.

          • Cosmo Le Cat says:

            Peterr, thanks for attempting to answer my question.

            But if there are 2 file cabinets (containers) side by side and 1 contains a doc marked classified, is the DOJ only allowed to take an emptied 2nd cabinet because language is missing? Surely that wasn’t the intent, but a strict reading of the warrant might backfire on the DOJ.

  2. Peterr says:

    Very good thread from the former CIA lawyer @SecretsAndLaws!

    One thing I’d add that is not mentioned there is that under various agreements between our closest intelligence allies is that we agree to pass along certain information we uncover that impacts their nations in certain ways, and they agree to do the same with us.

    For instance, go back to the story about the Australians alerting the CIA to the Coffee Boy’s bragging to an Australian diplomat in Britain about Russian ratfking with the 2016 election:

    During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

    About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

    Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

    Given the reference on the CLASS receipt to “info re: the President of France,” there may be something in the seized docs that may need to be discussed by CIA Director Burns with his French intelligence counterparts, as a part of those agreements to share intelligence with our allies.

    Similarly, depending on what exactly was in the documents regarding the word “nuclear,” that too may be something we need — under our existing intelligence sharing agreements — to share with foreign intelligence agencies, if it is particular to their nation and its national defense.

    This is yet another aspect to the classification review that is flying under the radar of most coverage. Burns and his colleagues will no doubt be helping DOJ understand what the status of these documents were on 1/20/21 and on 8/21/22, but they will also be looking at them with an eye toward intelligence community damage control — especially if it damages our relationships with our intelligence allies. If there’s something there that compromised US intelligence assets of some kind, that’s bad. If there’s something there that indicates Trump may have compromised foreign intelligence assets, we’ve got to warn those nations and figure out how to make things right with them.

    • Willis Warren says:

      Remember the “Five Eyes” reports that came out when Trump was obstructing the Mueller investigation? one of those was from Norway, but it’s quite possible that France had intel on Roger Stone and that’s what this is all about.

    • bmaz says:

      Where was searched is a matter of record, what in the world is your point?

      Oh, just checked your history. This apparently is a constant red herring of yours. Lol.

      Don’t gaslight people here.

      • Rugger9 says:

        JJ might be trolling for a technicality, like the concentration camp guard who tried to dodge his arrest by saying he was at a different but equally brutal camp.

        I’d expect to see more of this kind of hair-splitting. While warrants do need to be specific about the search location(s), let’s also remember that the lawyer was there (Bobb) who did not object to the location that was named.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Two separate businesses. Trump lives at one of them, the one searched. If the feds had probable cause to search the golf club’s locker rooms or storage areas – or any other Trump property – I’m pretty sure they would have. Give it a break.

    • Peterr says:

      From Attachment A of the search warrant: “The premises to be searched, 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, is further described as a resort, club, and residence located near the intersection of Southern Blvd and S Ocean Blvd.”

      Thanks for playing.

    • Gatorbaiter says:

      They searched exactly where the warrant specified. The attempted distraction is ridiculous, especially here..

    • Rayne says:

      Read this again, which I shared the last time you made this stupid irrelevant point:

      First, Mar-a-Lago *is* a golf resort. That’s how it’s marketed: https :// www. maralagoclub .com/golf (remove blank spaces)

      Second, point taken about the physical location of golf course buildings versus Mar-a-Lago, the site originally owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post. Trump’s residential space is at Mar-a-Lago, though.

      Was the GOLF COURSE located near the West Palm Beach airport searched? No. But there’s no residence there with a safe in residential space. There’s no bomb shelters there, either.

      And as it has been pointed out, the goddamned warrant spells out where to search and it’s not at the course but at the address where Mar-a-lago is located off A1A on the Intracoastal Waterway. The FBI followed the warrant.

      If you repeat this point again I’m going to give it the boot because it will be DDoSing comments.

  3. grennan says:

    Some early coverage said a “taint team” for privilege was along. Though “filter team” has popped up here and there, MW is the only person who’s explained what that means…thanks.

    Also, anybody have any idea if/when the other Trump properties or his office in NY would be searched, or why not?

    • Peterr says:

      The DOJ executed a search warrant at Mar-A-Lago because they had probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime could be found there, and they were able to convince a judge of that as well.

      At such time as the DOJ has probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime at other Trump properties, I would imagine that they would seek a similar search warrant on those properties. Until then, there won’t be any searches.

  4. Gatorbaiter says:

    Way oversimplified this means it isn’t as simple as “we got the evidence, lets jump to indict”. Wish the pundits could comprehend this and quit raising expectations.

  5. Alan Charbonneau says:

    People’s intuition is wrong about most things, about the legal system it is especially bad.

  6. Biggie says:

    Marci, if you had to guess to win a prize how long until we learn anything specific beyond “nuclear” – as in “nuclear weapons locations” or something like that he should NOT be taking more than other things he might take.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi there. Her name is Marcy, not “Marci”. Nobody knows the answer to that question. Why did you wander in to ask it here?

      • Desider says:

        I think elsewhere Marcy/Doc Wheeler has made the point that the gov will try to charge as narrowly as possible (focused on easier charges to prove and less sensitive docs) to avoid having to divulge more sensitive info in trial or discovery, pardon if I misunderstood. So I assume we may never know near the full extent of what Trump (+ others) was hiding and misusing, which is fine with me as long as they’re successful with the minimized set.

    • P J Evans says:

      There’s approximately zero evidence that he had anything like that. In fact, access to those is controlled by DOE.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      “How long until we learn anything specific beyond “nuclear.”

      Really? Who from DoJ mentioned ANYTHING about nuclear anything?

      People who keep projecting about nuclear information need to take a decontamination shower util we hear otherwise!

  7. CCM says:

    The documents found may not be anything of real interest other than the level of classification. Details about our nuclear programs may be of the highest classification, but to the average person too technical and boring. Details about Macron may be highly classified, but uninteresting; the sources and methods secret, but the info dull. Remember DJT has poor reading skills, the attention span of a gnat and is a kleptomaniac. He is the sort of guy who would steal the lightbulb from a hotel room, yes a crime, but not an interesting one. I doubt he spent the time to read any of the documents he stole, he was just hoping to have someone else read through them later to see if any contained info he could use as leverage. He was likely grabbing stuff based on the headers and stuffing it in boxes. I suspect when he asked someone to sort through it for “the good stuff” he produced an informant. Just guessing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “I don’t know what’s in them guys. Just rifle through that shit and load it on the truck. I’ll have someone sort through it later.”

      That would not be much of a defense had the guys been robbing a jeweler or liquor store. It’s less of a defense regarding classified information and presidential records, about which a former president and his staff would have received repeated briefings. And there were repeated attempts to get it back after Trump left office.

      And how about these: “I do this shit all the time. It’s just who I am. I haven’t used or sold it yet. It was all mine anyway.” Nope. Not much mileage in those defenses, either, except on Faux Noise.

      • CCM says:

        I think we all can agree just how serious and criminal his behavior is. I did not mean to offer DJT a defense, but just point out how his habitual criminal behavior may result in the documents not being of much interest. The criminal who robs a liquor stores probably shares quite a bit in common with DJT, neither is going to steal the antique bottle of cognac, they go for the cash in the drawer. I doubt he stole the secrets of area 51 or Rosewell.

  8. Puriya says:

    Marcy, thanks a lot for your hard work. I’m getting addicted to the insight here. The comments are very interesting too, so thanks everyone.

    I’ve been wondering why they might list the name Roger Stone or mention the French President. They said “Documents” elsewhere, could they not have said the same for these?

    I think read on this site—not sure if in comments or a main post, apologies if I’m misremembering —that perhaps the French President reference might have been to mess with DJT by signalling some kind of knowledge about the connections between Stone and French election disinformation.

    But DoJ doesn’t need to signal anything, and my impression of AG Garland is that he would prefer not to play these kinds of mind games (maybe more sophisticated ones, but not something like this)? Am I missing something?

    • bmaz says:

      Heh, no, not missing anything at all. Search returns are formal documents that get filed and analyzed. DOJ is not that creative and fun. And certainly not on a high profile search like this.

    • Critter7 says:

      I find myself wondering if this batch of material might include Kompromat on Stone. When Trump was considering the grant of clemency to Stone, he probably received input on that from White House lawyers and maybe from others. As most here are aware I’m sure, Stone promoted the hack-and-dump for the 2017 French presidential election. I find myself wondering if Trump received documentation of Stone’s involvement with that during the clemency process, documentation of Stone activities that were not revealed in court documents or elsewhere, and was holding onto that for the purpose helping him to keep Stone on a leash, so to speak.

      • Arice says:

        Kompromat on Roger Stone? Like what? Evidence that he once did something kind? Helped an old lady cross the street? The guy takes PRIDE is being compared to The Joker. He has a NIXON tattoo on his back. Ain’t no Kompromat strong enough…

        • Rayne says:

          LOL Yeah, Stone is a well-documented swinger. Can’t blackmail him on his personal life. But he may have broken a law which could result in prosecution (costing time+money) and possible incarceration if proven guilty, all of which could be leverage.

          • arice says:

            Exactly. If Stone had been Trump in 2016 he’d have published his OWN pee tape just to keep the crowd happy. Stone’s sex life is the least of my concerns about him, though, other than the obvious hypocrisy with his political positions. He actually seems to take pride in doing evil things to hurt other people.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      In searching for stuff the DoJ know what some of the things they are looking for actually are; photobook, leather-bound case, documents specifically about Stone and President of France, Box 2A, etc. so they ask for it.

      They also DON’T know what they want specifically, just that it’s likely connected to the conduct of a crime, hence, documents.

      It’s all boilerplate stuff.

  9. Robot17 says:

    Curious. What about seizures in “plain view” outside the scope of this warrant? Fair game still? I haven’t heard much talk of that.

    • Arice says:

      You mean like if Trump left TS documents just laying there on the reception desk or on a pool chair?

  10. kgb999 says:

    This is kind of misstating the point of the “If you or I did what he did, it would be totally different” observation … or at least the one that jumps out at me.

    If you or I (or. more relevantly, a government employee) ran off with boxes of top secret and SCI documents, the DoJ would have had a warrant and recovered them within days (if not hours) of being aware they were missing. It seems exceptionally unlikely you or I would have held them in the basement of our public hotel for 18 months of “negotiations” with the DoJ. They don’t typically ask nicely.

    The investigation is proceeding exactly as would be expected for one that was authorized in June … and there’s no sense in anyone getting their britches in a bundle while the process plays out. But it’s also true that waiting for over a year to aggressively respond is pretty atypical considering what appears to have been at stake.

    It feels inarguable that the entire process would considerably farther along with the same facts and any other target.

    • rip says:

      I’d hazard a guess that there were a lot more threads to follow and track for this particular case.

      And finding those threads and who were involved expands the the network and effort. The good thing about this is that many ancillary actors may also be caught up in this web. Ones that may not have been snared if the only target was one individual-1 or close compatriots. Just a guess.

  11. rktbrkr says:

    If there are known documents that witnesses say had been at Mar-a-Lago but they weren’t found in the search … then things will get really interesting.

    If there are missing docs DOJ will have to charge and it will be mayhem, Jan6 on steroids when he gets indicted, we better steel ourselves for this outcome.

  12. punaise says:

    I don’t recall which rabbit hole led to this at Vox:

    The 4 major criminal probes into Donald Trump, explained

    The purpose of a criminal investigation, and ultimately of a prosecution, is to convince a jury to convict a defendant after a full criminal trial has taken place. It is not to provide the media or the public with regular updates about what law enforcement knows about potential suspects.

    Especially within the context of federal investigations, these norms exist both to protect the investigation itself — if a suspect learns too much about what information law enforcement is seeking, they could destroy evidence or tamper with witnesses — and to protect potential suspects. When someone is formally charged with a crime, they have an opportunity to vindicate themselves at trial. If they are merely the subject of accusations tossed off by government officials, they have no real way to protect or rehabilitate their reputation.

    For these reasons, anyone eager to see how the investigations into Trump will end must have patience.

    One other factor that voters — and, especially, journalists — should bear in mind as they evaluate what is going on with these investigations is that while the Justice Department will ordinarily be very tight-lipped about an ongoing investigation (and responsible state-level prosecutors will also not be especially forthcoming), Trump will not. And he is likely to tell lies and half-truths to mislead the public and rile up his supporters.

  13. punaise says:

    and this bold prediction at WaMo:

    Trump “Will Be Indicted”

    MC: For five years, we’ve heard, “The walls are closing in on Trump.” You know, “It’s the Mueller report, the servers at Trump Tower, Carter Page, the first impeachment, the second impeachment, the tax returns, the pee tape.” Do you think this time they’re closing in?

    JT: The walls were closing in, but when you’re a wealthy, white, well-connected man, the walls are farther away for you. The walls move a bit, imperceptibly. If you were an ordinary person, you would have been trashed, compacted, like Princess Leia. You wouldn’t have gotten out. So, here’s the deal. I think the walls are closing in on him. But even if he’s indicted, this man is not going to prison. Right. We’ve never had an indictment of the U.S. president. We’ve never had a search warrant, let alone an indictment.

    [FYI, active link fixed. /~Rayne]

  14. Bears74 says:

    Perhaps it’s my seething hatred of TFG seeping through but this bit stuck in my craw: “If Trump went to trial on Espionage Act charges, DOJ would have to declassify or “substitute” classified information (I wrote about that process here; here’s another good overview). And the agencies would not want to do this with the most sensitive documents.”

    I understand agencies wanting to protect state secrets. Though the notion of Trump dodging the most serious charges simply because the documents that he stole were TOO important turns my stomach.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I’m not so sure that kind of graymail is going to be effective. The fact that Individual-1 was hoarding any docs subject to the PRA was the initial crime followed by obstruction in getting them back to the NARA that actually owns them. The classification determination (i.e. that it is classified) will add to the base crime since that may add SCIF storage as a required action, but only one TS/SCI is enough for that finding, the rest is prosecutorial gravy IMHO. So, for the fact finding trial phase, the details are not as important regarding precisely what the docs say.

      What the classification level also does on a document is to show what value to attach to the damage to the USA by its release to unauthorized parties. IANAL, but that damage discussion would be more likely to be relevant when determining the sentencing post conviction on the facts of the case. “How bad was it” is not the same as “Did he store them / release them” for questions.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      No jury needs to actually see what’s in the documents. The only thing that’s needed to prove the DoJ case (if one is ultimately made) is:

      a) Did the defendant possess the documents/materials in question?
      b) Were the documents/materials classified and to what extent?
      c) Did the defendant possess these in contravention of a specific statute?
      d) Did the defendant knowingly do this or SHOULD he have known that this was a breach of the law?

      There are likely a few more steps in that but that’s a trimmed down version.


  15. skua says:

    Mickie (Michael Cohen) has come up with a different target for any blackmail Trump was doing with the docs.
    ‘struth (God’s truth) – it definitely would work in B-grade movie.

    • skua says:

      The theory doesn’t even need to be correct, just seen as likely enough to have a large benefit by an enemy of the US who would then seek to trigger one of DJT’s “release the intel” instructions.
      A large increase in Trump’s personal security at anytime over the last 18 months could be interpreted as an attempt to stop a triggering. And I think massive surveillance of him would have kicked in if Trump is indeed perceived as blackmailing DoJ/USA by intelligence agencies.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Speaking of next steps, CNN’s new chief, Chris Licht, needs to go back to Stephen Colbert, if he’ll have him. (I doubt it.) He’s a gofer, happily ruining CNN and helping to ruin news in general, on behalf of the hard right shits who hired him.

    • bmaz says:

      It is awfully late, and it is awfully batshit insane.

      Like did Jenna Ellis or Christina Bobb have to write it out in crayon on a Howard Johnson’s paper placemat?

  17. WilliamOckham says:

    I find this factoid interesting. In the aforementioned batshit insane filing, TFG is referred as:
    President Trump – 52 times
    President Donald J. Trump: – 7 times
    former President – 4 times (and 3 of those were quoting Garland’s press conference)

    He really has trouble admitting he lost the election.

    [If anyone is interested, I have a better OCR of the filing than the one generated by the court’s automated system.]

    • BobCon says:

      It’s very possibly intentional, though. He (or his team) may well be picking up on how badly the press is missing the point that his presidential authority withered away when Biden took the oath of office.

      For example, this article got hung up on the issue of whether or not Trump could declassify documents while he was in office, without even addressing that he lost that power in 2021 and it’s a minor point now.

      Trump or his team know the value of this kind of distraction, and until the press stops playing along and treating it as a 50-50 case or even 20-80 case, he’ll keep it up.

      From a PR perspective, even some distraction and some doubt is valuable to him, and blurring the line between president and former president is worth it until the press gets better.

    • grennan says:

      Surprised they missed one (1) non-quoted instance of “former President” — can’t you see him sharpie-ing ‘former’ out over and over?

      • WilliamOckham says:

        The phrase was “the search of the former President’s home on August 8, 2022”. It would be pretty hard to avoid the “former” there.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s 300 classified documents retrieved in three interactions over eight months, 150 of them in January.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Which means Trump kept at least 300 classified documents for a year after leaving office, and at least 150 of them for several months after giving back the first tranche. That might help the DoJ’s case that Trump violated one or more federal laws.

        • Drew says:

          Yeah. I do wonder, however, whether some of the ones not marked classified end up being even more significant–i.e. evidence of specific obstruction, etc.

    • cmarlowe says:

      I was pay-walled from the NYT article, but from what I think I heard on MSNBC there is video of Trump looking though some of the classified documents. Since he has no security clearance, just looking through docs that he knows are classified is itself a crime.

  18. Chuck M. says:

    Anyone else wonder what Donald and Vladimir chatted about during their tête-à-têtes? Reporting I’ve seen says the interpreter was ordered to destroy her notes, or something. I can’t help wonder how sanitized it actually was.

    • rip says:

      If Vlad ordered the transcripts (or the transcriber) destroyed, it probably happened. If Vlad’s toadie was in charge, there’ll be copies floating around, perhaps in some drainpipes too.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Disregard the Wash. Times: it is not a reputable source of news. When posting a URL, it’s usually necessary to remove all symbols from the question mark to the end. They are invasive tracking information.

      • Bruce Fuentes says:

        Sorry I forgot to remove to fix the url. It happens sometime. None of us are perfect and I do know what that is.
        I realize that the Washington Times is crap. I think I made that clear in my original post. The problem is most people that will read that do not understand that. Therefore, I was looking for an explanation from more legal-minded people as to why it is crap. If you don’t want to that is fine, no need to be a dick.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      As always the alt-righ propaganda networks trying to engage in the ‘what about’ game:

      “The court ruled that the National Archives and Records Administration had no power to “seize control of them” because Mr. Clinton had used his authority under the Presidential Records Act to declare the recordings part of his personal records.”

      That’s because, presumably, Clinton ACTUALLY declassified the material.

      But don’t let that fact get in the way or the shit-fanning.

      But really, the Washington Times? I do read the ‘other’ side’s material from time to time to keep abreast of the nonsense being disseminated but the second I poke a hole through any of their story’s accusations I simply turn it off and certainly don’t bother sending it out to others to determine its veracity.

      • Bruce Fuentes says:

        Got to love the condescending and rude treatment that we non-legal people get from the experts here. You do realize that the vast majority of people in this country do not understand any of this. This story is just not in the Washington Times it is all over the right-wing media. Alas, it seems a lot of people here will not deign to address a simple question that I agree is easily refutable. The hope was that I would be given an answer from an actual legal expert so that my pushback would be more than me just saying so.
        I see that is beneath the dignity of the experts here, so I will do as the experts want and just keep my mouth shut. I guess some of you think I should be honored to be acknowledged at all.
        I would be ashamed to treat people like this on the forums I participate in which I have some expertise. Yes, even lowly people like me have expertise in some subjects. Just not law.

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