Archives Letter Demonstrates Import of Past Kash Patel Claim of Declassification

Yesterday, propagandist John Solomon posted a letter (NARA link now added) that the Acting Archivist, Debra Steidel Wall, sent Evan Corcoran on May 10. It described a series of communications in which Corcoran asked the Archives to delay giving the FBI access to the documents returned by the former President in January and to treat the files with, “a protective assertion of executive privilege made by counsel for the former President. After letters on April 29 and May 1 asking for delay, on May 5, Corcoran asked to review what had been returned.

Please note that, in accordance with the PRA, 44 U.S.C. § 2205(3), the former President’s designated representatives can review the records, subject to obtaining the appropriate level of security clearance. Please contact my General Counsel, Gary M. Stern, if you would like to discuss the details of such a review, such as you proposed in your letter of May 5, 2022, particularly with respect to any unclassified materials. [my emphasis]

The date and Steidel Wall’s response is significant. That’s the date Kash Patel claimed, for the first time, that he had witnessed Trump declassifying broad swaths of material at the White House.

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

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

While Patel declined to say specifically what Trump had declassified, he did describe it to include both “Russiagate” [sic] and the impeachment.

It’s information that Trump felt spoke to matters regarding everything from Russiagate to the Ukraine impeachment fiasco to major national security matters of great public importance — anything the president felt the American people had a right to know is in there and more.

At one level, this looks more like a belated — and pathetic — attempt to give the President an alibi after he was caught storing Special Access Program documents in a basement room in his heavily-trafficked resort for a year.

But by mentioning two things Trump was investigated for, Patel effectively suggested the point of demanding that FBI hold off its investigation was, in part, an attempt to delay access to such materials.

And then, weeks after Steidel Wall said that those who were representatives could access the files for which he was being investigated, Trump informed her he was making Patel a representative.

I write to designate two individuals – Kash Patel and John Solomon – as my representatives for access to Presidential records of my administration, pursuant to the Presidential Records Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 2201 – 2207, and 36 C.F.R. § 1270.44(a)(4).

Patel has made all sorts of claims about whether he has been given access to Trump’s documents at all.

But by his own public comments on May 5, the same day Corcoran first floated the idea of having Trump’s people review the documents already in hand, Patel gave the FBI even more reason to be concerned.

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35 replies
  1. BruceF says:

    Saw one Republican Congressman try to deflect with claim that, “All former Presidents need access to documents like these when they write their memoirs.”

    So we have now reached that level of absurdity in the quest to protect Traitor Donnie! Total desperation!

  2. jeco says:

    They keep following Sloppy Steve Esq. advice to flood the zone with shit. DOJ has the resources to smite these attempts by trump’s legal clown car squad.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      Unfortunately, flooding the zone works too well too often. It’s a key tactical reason the country is where it is, and it isn’t stopping.

      The J6 TV event, Dobbs, the anti-democracy actions of the GOP, and Trump’s crystal-clear self-incrimination on classified documents have made the difference.

      • Doctor Biobrain says:

        Flooding the zone is a PR strategy that’s effective at confusing the media because they’re conformists who are easily confused by fake confidence and have the memories of gnats. It’s also good at tricking supporters into thinking that at least ONE of their arguments are valid, even if the others get shot down. It’s not a legal strategy and won’t work in court where judges hate getting BS’d.

        Sadly, morons like Trump and Bannon don’t understand the difference between PR and reality, and get confused when they can’t fool all the people all the time.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          “Sadly, morons like Trump and Bannon don’t understand the difference between PR and reality, and get confused when they can’t fool all the people all the time.”

          You’re the one who is confused. You’re making the same mistake most other people make, including the press and most analysts: they laugh at him and his followers and believe that facts will eventually persuade the polity to see the truth.

          The communications you mock are highly effective: just look at the grip his followers have on the throat of the GOP (though the general cravenness of most politicians goes a long way to making the plan effective).

          This is not PR, it’s demagoguery. The actual objective is not to induce positive feelings about Trump; it’s to induce stochastic terrorism. Don’t forget who has all the guns.

          By dismissing it as confusion you’re supporting him.

          • John Doeman says:

            This is America; everyone has guns, even plenty on the left. No one should kid themselves that only folks on the right have guns.

            • Rayne says:

              I don’t know where you’re going with this but let’s avoid the appearance of advocating violence.

          • Rayne says:

            Flooding the zone” is a PR strategy, or more pointedly, a propaganda technique.

            Once again, this does not fly in federal court. A blustering blizzard of bullshit is not a substitute for evidence, case law, precedence, and astute lawyering.

            The blustering blizzard continues because the grift continues — that unpaid $1.6M bill for services and hosting for Truth Social needs to be addressed and it won’t happen if the grift dries up because the target audience has become less susceptible to the FUD flood.

  3. Maureen A Donnelly says:

    a minor point but in Florida, especially along the coasts, we don’t have basements–even Trump’s private club. the water table is about six inches below the surface on a good day, and basements are about as common as fireplaces in Miami.

    thanks for keeping us abreast with all the phuckery emerging from Donald’s firehose of crap.

    i certainly hope that someone is looking into all the last minute appointments Don made to high level governmental agencies like the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and the CIA. Kash Patel running anything gives me great cause for concern. Almost as much as I have for Chuck Flynn being in charge of a fleet . . . Thanks Dr. Wheeler.

    • Leu2500 says:

      Evidently when Marjorie Merriweather Post (cereal heiress) built Mar A Lago, she had 3 bomb shelters included. These must be what are being referred to as “basement.” I can’t imagine what sort of pump system there is to keep them dry-ish.

    • Pete T says:

      I posted this in a much earlier thread from:
      because I thought the same thing living not as close to the ocean, but about 40 miles South of MAL.

      “Fall-out shelters have been added in the basement of the main structure.”

      MAL is built on essentially a coral reef, which certainly doesn’t make it less dry at any depth. I dunno, maybe basement is a term used for the relative location of the room (above the water line) wrt the rest of the structure. Agreed – a nit.

      • bidrec says:

        Many NYC townhouses have both a basement and a cellar. The cellar is under the basement and has a dirt floor. The basement floor is finished.

        Some Amish barns also have this feature.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          NYC legally defines a basement as having at least half its height above the curb level and a cellar having less than that.
          It can be legal to have a basement apartment (only for family members), never a cellar apartment.

          We own some property back there so I had to learn that little tidbit.
          Like many of the housing laws in NYC it’s often considered, ummm, somewhat aspirational, though the city has increased enforcement over the last couple of years.

          • bidrec says:

            I installed “market-data” computers back when they were the size of refrigerators. Some were installed in cellars. The townhouses were used as offices not residences.

            The Amish used the cellar as a root cellar, the basement as a leather shop, and the rest of the barn was for drying tobacco.

            Don’t sell drugs in Cadiz, Spain. It is sinking into the sea and I understand that the prison cells are below sea level.

      • Drew says:

        Out on barrier islands on the Jersey shore a lot of the really fancy beach houses have their entrance level above the ground level carport, and there are storage rooms, etc on the level of the carport. It’s possible that a similar design principle applies at MAL with verandas or whatever 7-10 feet above ground level-at least perhaps at the biggest building.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I recommend reading the article cited by Pete T, above. See, also, the wiki entry for MAL.

          Marjorie Merriweather Post was one of the wealthiest women in America when she built MAL a hundred years ago. It was one of the largest and most expensive mansions in America. If she wanted an-impossible-to-build basement, she got a basement.

    • GWPDA says:

      While I agree with your points generally, it’s still important to be accurate. GEN Charles Flynn was made a 4* and given command of USARPAC – US Army Pacific – quite unexpectedly, given that GEN Paul LaCamera had only been at USARPAC for just over a year at the time. LaCamera was shifted to Korea, whoever it was who had just been moved to Korea was returned to his position. Presumably to ensure that Flynn was well away from control of anything at all. Not the Fleet – just USARPAC and Fort Shafter. INDOPACOM it ain’t.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      There is a basement in a home where I housesat. Built in the early 1900s, it is about 20 miles from the ocean, but much closer to the river.

      One evening I was in the powder room, washing my hands, when I heard sounds coming through the floor vent. They immediately caught my attention. I had never heard anything like it ever before. It sounded like a language I have never heard. But it did not sound human in any way.

      There were lots of consonant sounds and no vowels. K and T and SH and F sounds repeated very rapidly: KKTTSHSHFFKKFFTTSHSH…It was unsettling. I didn’t want to let my imagination run away. Then the dog came in and started pawing and barking at the vent.

      I left the room but the dog stayed and barked for awhile. I asked the dog if he wanted to come along and check out the basement. He blinked twice. Code for, “Nope, not me!”

      So, I descended the narrow stairs to the most pristine basement I have ever seen. I tightened the lock on one of the tiny windows. Large HVAC ducts obscured some of my view. But there was nothing unusual down there. I thought I might find an iguana or some exotic reptile. Nada.

      The neighbor had recently installed a huge dish atop a structure that looked like an oil derrick. And the homeowners had recently installed an elevator with the required telephone in it. When they returned they told me that they would sometimes hear static sounds coming from the phone. So my brain says one of those things must have been it. But my gut and the dog says, “No way!”

  4. joberly says:

    EW. Thank you for linking to Solomon’s release of the May 10 letter from the Acting Archivist. That letter is about the 15 boxes returned “in January 2022” and which contained “over 100 documents…comprising more than 700 pages…up to the level of Top Secret and included Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Program materials.” On April 11, the FBI and other “intelligence community” agencies got permission from President Biden’s White House Counsel to review materials in those 15 boxes. Corcoran wrote on Trump’s behalf on April 29 that he wanted to delay that review, again referring to the records in the 15 boxes. The May 10th letter from the Acting Archivist does not indicate knowledge of the additional boxes still sitting at Mar-a-Lago. The *NYT* reported last night that there were as many as 300 classified documents removed from the White House on January 20, 2021. Here’s my back-of-the-envelope arithmetic: 100+ classified documents returned in January of 2022, a second set, number unknown and number of pages unknown, obtained in June at Jay Bratt’s visit, and a third set obtained by search (at least 11 classified documents, page count unknown) on August 8, in all, totaling 300+ classified documents.

    • RLHall says:

      Yes, there’s a bunch of confused and sloppy reporting, I think. The reporters have lost sight of their timelines.
      Also, I would not be surprised at all if there aren’t other records hidden at Mar a Lago, Bedminster, Trump Tower, or who knows where. It just goes on and on.

  5. L. Eslinger says:

    Quickly drilling down into Title 5, 36, 44 (including short excursions into weedy patches) didn’t reveal any allowances for the executive to declassify materials by whispering, muttering, or thinking, uhm, loudly, whether while alone or in the presence of toadies.

    And, anyway, “presidential records” don’t appear to include official records of an agency, which the executive may formally declassify, but not own and/or squirrel away in a pool equipment room or office closet.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      You must’ve missed the part where corrupt toadies can claim second person ex post facto declassification powers.

      Check again.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I assume any authorization to view presidential records is subject to the requirement that the representative viewing them has the requisite security clearance to do so, especially as some of these include Top Secret, TS/SCI, and special access program documents. A determination, if any, that one or more of these documents was insta-declassified by Trump will be some time off.

    And Kash Patel should probably be looking for a fucking good defense attorney. If there’s an indictable crime here, he is almost certainly a co-conspirator in it.

    • Overshire says:

      And not just Patel, but Christina Bobb, too. She may once have had a security clearance, but I can’t imagine it outlasted her government employment. As the former Executive Secretary to the Secretary of Homeland Security, wouldn’t she have to have been aware she was the “custodian” of classified materials she wasn’t even allowed to be in the same room with?

    • SomeOtherTimSmith says:

      Special access and sensitive compartmented information both restrict access to a specific set of people with a need to know. You need to be cleared to get access, but just being cleared is not good enough. Even TOP SECRET clearances are restricted; you need a damn good active reason to have one. If you don’t you get bumped down a level. So the idea that Patel – a person without any active need to access TOP SECRET – would get cleared at that level is remote. And further, that Patel would be granted access to each and every restricted information domain, is absurd. Even the president doesn’t automatically gain access to restricted areas without a direct need to know for the actual secrets.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      The minority will always favor despotism because it’s the only way to stay in power e.g. South Africa, the modern GOP, etc.

  7. steevieb says:

    With respect to Mar-a-Largo elevation: Ages ago, In my former employment, I calculated storm surge along the Gulf and East coasts. A Mar-a-Lago manager called during that time to ask if the grounds might be subject to storm surge. A quick look at the data file/map and the answer was “Nope, not even in a Cat. 5 hurricane”. The property is, as mentioned, on the ancient coastal limestone ridge. A quick use of the USGS/ESRI/ArcGIS Elevation Maker website ( shows the facility at ~15 ft. MSL. I leave it to the engineers to say that is enough depth below the vertical datum to build dry storage space.

    • Geoguy says:

      Thank you for the information. I had estimated that the first floor elev. would be at ~16 ft. MSL or about 10 to 12 feet above groundwater, plenty of room for below grade spaces without much dewatering effort. Then I saw the following on Rayne’s Twitter. She references an article in the Guardian ( I think) about a book by Andrew Kirtzman titled “Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor” that will be published in September. From the article: “The former mayor and his wife, Kirtzman writes, moved into a bungalow across the street from Mar-a-Lago but connected by a tunnel underneath South Ocean Boulevard, one of the many little known passages and rooms beneath the expansive resort. The secret route allowed the couple to come and go from Trump’s home without the media knowing.”

    • timbo says:

      There’s an irony in that the March and April items are out of chronological order. I mean, it happens to the best of us, right?

  8. mospeck says:

    Alligators all around. Anyway, it’s rockets red glare day for Ukrainian Independence and maybe even for Russia too. NYT Wed 17 “court said that the star, Yuri Shevchuk, 65, the frontman of the band DDT, had been fined $815 for making a “speech .. that people in Ukraine were dying just to fulfill “some kind of Napoleonic plans of another Caesar. “The motherland, my friends, is not” a part of the president’s body “that you have to lick and kiss all the time. The motherland is a poor grandmother selling potatoes at the train station.”
    NYT Sat 20 ” Ms. Leonidova, a former schoolteacher, “Russia is close but Russia is very far away now. Our differences were not so explicit before, but with independence we grew completely apart.” “Yes,” said Ms. Bohachenko, who has volunteered to help the Ukrainian Army, “Russia evolves backward.” “They want to rule as czars,” said Ms. Leonidova. Ms. Bohachenko laughed. “It’s such a huge country and almost no opposition to Putin! How come? When we were oppressed we had the Maidan. Russians can do the same!” screeched to a halt. Two startled young men raised their hands. They showed their military IDs. Dmitrian, 20, military call sign “Skin,” and Dmitriy, 19, call sign “Ryzhyi,” said they were on leave from their unit in Mykolaiv, where the bombardment of Russian rockets is unrelenting. Each hastily married his girlfriend when they enlisted. “This is what Ukrainian young men do now,” Mr. Iljin said. “Marry and go to die.”

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