How DOJ Continues to Build Its Case that Trump Improperly Retained National Defense Information

DOJ’s response to Trump’s request for a Special Master last night did a bunch of things — most notably, debunking lies Trump’s camp had been telling.

But I want to point to several details presumably designed not just to impress Judge Aileen Cannon that this is more serious than Trump has made out, but to give Trump and his attorneys notice that they’re dealing with National Defense Information.

As I and others have noted repeatedly, the Espionage Act doesn’t criminalize the refusal to return classified information. It criminalizes the refusal to return National Defense Information. That’s a legacy of how old the law is — it predates the current US classification system.

But it means Trump’s crowing about having declassified documents is simply bluster, irrelevant to his exposure under the statute.

The distinction between classified and National Defense Information not only shows up in Trump’s affidavit, but it shows up in a key spot: modifying a still-redacted paragraph between the discussion of the June 3 meeting (which, because it pertained to grand jury information, is entirely redacted in the affidavit) and the discussion of Jay Bratt’s June 8 follow-up.

2 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) does not use the term “classified information.” but rather criminalizes the willful retention of “information relating to the national defense.” The statute does not define “information related to the national defense.” but courts have construed it broadly. See Gorin, .. United States. 312 U.S. 19. 28 (1941) (holding that the phrase “information relating to the national defense” as used in the Espionage Act is a “generic concept of broad connotations, referring to the military and naval establishments and the related activities of national preparedness”). In addition, the information must be “closely held” by the U.S. government. See United States v. Squillacote. 221 F.3d 542, 579 (4th Cir. 2000) (”[I]nformation made public by the government as well as information never protected by the governent is not national defense information.”); United States, .. Morison. 844 F.2d 1057, 1071-72 (4th Cir. 1988). Certain courts have also held that the disclosure of the documents must be potentially damaging to the United States. See Morison, 844 F.2d at 1071-72. [my emphasis]

In context, when Bratt contacted Evan Corcoran and instructed him to secure the storage room where, DOJ suspected correctly, classified documents were still being stored, he was asking Corcoran to protect the information.

In yesterday’s filing, the government demonstrated what properly protecting NDI looks like in practice. The example that has — deservedly — gotten the most attention is the description of case agents and National Security Division attorneys having to get additional clearances to access this information.

In some instances, even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.

Trump was storing this stuff in a hotel safe. But when FBI and DOJ got the materials back, they wouldn’t let anyone look at the documents until they got additional clearances first.

DOJ also described that the classified materials that have been seized have been segregated and properly stored.

All of the classified documents seized in the August 8 search have been segregated from the rest of the seized documents and are being separately maintained and stored in accordance with appropriate procedures for handling and storing classified information.

DOJ intends that these special protections will extend to these court proceedings: DOJ demanded that if Judge Cannon decides to appoint a Special Master, she pick someone who is already cleared at the TS/SCI level.

If the special master must be permitted to review classified documents, in order to avoid unnecessary delay, the special master should already possess a Top Secret/SCI security clearance.

And finally, there’s the rationale that DOJ raised over and over again for why it needs to retain access to all the classified materials: The Intelligence Community needs to and has already started the process of assessing what kind of damage Trump did by keeping this stuff in his hotel safe.

The Intelligence Community is also reviewing the seized documents to assess the potential risk to national security that would result if these materials were disclosed while they were unlawfully stored at the Premises.


As the government has explained, the Intelligence Community, under the supervision of the Director of National Intelligence, is conducting a classification review of those documents and an assessment of the potential risk to national security that could result from their disclosure.

Thus far, Trump’s lawyers have been oblivious to such warnings.

But if DOJ were to charge this, his attorneys’ obliviousness may be Trump’s downfall. I laid out (most recently in this post) what a jury would be asked to consider if Trump ever were put on trial for his actions. One central question would be whether the jury believed this was NDI, including whether (as bolded above) it was closely held. And one thing prosecutors would demonstrate, at length, is that whatever the former President did with these documents, the rest of the government continued to closely hold the materials.

If Trump’s lawyers were smart, they’d read last night’s filing and realize that every time they make DOJ write up another document, DOJ further documents things that would be key evidence against Trump at trial.

This stunt about a Special Master — whatever else it is — is also helping DOJ strengthen any prosecution of Trump for his actions.

159 replies
  1. Marika says:

    In the New York State case, Alina Habba claimed she conducted a search of Mar a Lago, including Trump’s office for documents related to that case. She must have come across the documents marked classified, or alternately, if she didn’t that would be evidence the documents were moved there. This makes her an interesting witness.

    • jeco says:

      So when FBI questions her about seeing secret documents during her rigorous search she has to be concerned about her fingerprints impeaching her denial. If she says YES, then she admits to espionage vios. I’m sure FBI will also ask if she moved or copied any docs and if she saw any secret docs at other locs she rigorously searched. Second/third rate lawyers in over their heads.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I would be very surprised to find out that Alina Habba has a clearance to view classified info, because she’s never been in any government service as far as I know. If that lack of clearance is true, then it’s yet another hit against M-a-L document management, as well as raising the question of whether Ms. Habba knows what makes a document classified and how its identification shows that classification.

      I guess she just likes being on TV.

      • P J Evans says:

        I had a secret clearance when I was doing electronics assembly and testing – some of the products were classified. But that was more than 40 years ago. There were two people at that company with TS, and they were executives.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Those were probably government contracts within a couple of tiers. IIRC Habba’s CV doesn’t have anything like that until getting hired by Individual-1.

          Similarly, does Ms. Bobb or Mr. Corcoran have the needed clearance level?

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m sure they were contracts – but the managers made sure I didn’t know more than needed to do my work. (Most of our stuff wasn’t classified.)

        • bidrec says:

          I had a top secret clearance 45 years ago. It was issued by The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office. So I had a DISCO clearance in the Disco Era. Training was several weeks. At the very beginning of the process in boot camp every one at the introduction was involved with communications (crypto) with one exception; there was someone who wanted to be in The White House Honor Guard. So, apparently they have some sort of clearance, too.

          In 1974 the user manual for The Simpson Multimeter was classified. It was “For Official Use Only”, which was a classification at one time.

        • posaune says:

          My brother, drafted in 1970, managed to take the clarinet audition for the US Marine Band White House Orchestra, and get accepted while still in high school. (Note: he was the youngest ever accepted at age 17 — had to wait to report until his 18th birthday). It required a security clearance (Nixon White House) and it took some time — even for an 18-yo musician honor student with “no history.” The FBI showed up in our rural Illinois town of 5,000 to interview Sr. Peter Marie, his 3rd grade teacher (10-year review going back to age 8, lol). Gave the town something to gossip about for a while. In the meantime, waiting for his clearance, he played funerals at Arlington, sometimes three per day.

    • SteveB says:

      Politico article also refers to Trump affidavit

      ‘The same filing also includes an affidavit from Trump himself, indicating that he “authorized Alina Habba to search my private residence and personal office located at The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida for any and all documents responsive to the Subpoena.”’

      I thought Bobb was supposed to be Trump’s ‘custodian of records’ ?

      • Peterr says:

        I believe that “custodian of records” is the title that says to NARA “here’s the person who is coordinating things with you.” It doesn’t mean Bobb is the only one who ever handles the records. Having folks like Habba and others do the actual work with the records does not conflict with that title for Bobb; it just means that they may work under her direction/control, or that Trump directed them to go through Bobb to deal with the subpoena. “Ask Christina where you need to look . . .”

        • SteveB says:

          Ah. That makes a lot of sense.

          I had thought that perhaps Bobb had been given a spurious designation to foster a (false) impression that there was some structure and order to the division of responsibilities for curating Trump’s paperwork in MAL (and possibly elsewhere)

          Seems like ‘diligent searching’ is another one of those phrases intended to create an impression of good faith effort in the face of inadvertent ‘misfiling/mislaying’ of records, when the truth is closer to wilful obstruction and misfeasance

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Your second para. is closer to the mark. Trump apparently did appoint Bobb as the custodian of the records of the “Office of Donald J. Trump.” That purports to be an entity separate, for example, from Trump personally, the Trump Org., and Mar-a-Lago.

          Trump is famous, however, for abusing titles and not acting as if they mean what they ordinarily mean. Nor does he adhere to the rules that keep entities separate from one another. He acts as if everything is precious and “mine.”

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Hence my question on a previous thread about ‘The Office of’ which was nicely answered.

          The bottom line will ultimately be, who had official carriage of the documents? The Donald’s repeated and public proclamations that these are ‘his’ would seem to obviate the need to determine this but all these documents would be considered to be both in his carriage and in his possession, regardless of where at MaL they turned up and this will be proven officially through chain-of-custody documentation.

          Keep talking Donny Boy.

    • Marika says:

      Given the affidavit, no doubt Alina was questioned by DOJ. What did she say? Possiblities?
      1. admitted she did not personally search the Mar a Lago office
      2. admits saw the classified docs and told them about it
      3. says searched but classified docs were not there at that time
      4. says Trump told her classified docs had been declassified.

      What is her exposure legally if she did handle the clearly marked documents and did not tell authorities of their existence?

    • Wisefish says:

      The photo of the classified documents in TFGs office floor and that box with the framed Time Magazine cover was odd. I was thinking that the classified files may have been stored/concealed inside those frames?

        • Wisefish says:

          If you think I am some conspiracy minded mental weakling that can be forced to drink whatever either side is spewing…you would be wrong YK! I have not seen or heard anybody else mention my theory that documents may have been hidden in the frames that included the TIME cover. My professional career, although unrelated to the judicial realm, requires keen observational skills as well as identifying the causal mechanisms related to effects and/or actions. The fact that the FBI included that box with the frame in the evidence picture, along with the classified folders, should make people ask additional questions. Do you really think that the FBI was just sloppy and forgot to move the box out of the way? Or that the FBI wanted to show that classified material was being stored near personal items? Either of those objectives could have been more effectively accomplished in numerous other ways. Take another objective look at the evidence photo and ask yourself why those vastly disparate items are shown together. If it is ever revealed that evidence was hidden in those frames I would also like an apology from you for your witless comment. And if I’m wrong…I’ll do the same YK.

        • Rayne says:

          Ease up. The public doesn’t know exactly what was searched and how it was searched and may not ever know considering the materials in question.

          Pick your battles or have them picked for you. I’m saying this as someone with moderator’s powers to do that.

  2. JohnForde says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Merrick Garland is not a viper – he a constrictor.

    • no_imagination says:

      He seemed pretty sure of himself when he made his initial public statement to the press concerning the search warrant.

        • no_imagination says:

          I mean it struck me that he was already confident he had a very strong case going forward, particularly the fact that he was going to file to unseal the warrant.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, that is the way it struck you? And you think AGs ought be blithely chatting about Rule 6e material? Seriously?

        • hester says:

          I think no_imagination meant that the USAG was confident when he made his statements about the warrant. Why ? Do posters here have to be lawyers?

        • No_imagination says:

          I used to read emptywheel’s comments way back when she posted comments to GG’s blog. Stopped following him eons ago… But I do read her twitter and blog from time to time.

        • Super Dave says:

          Every blog I read has at least one commenter who is “the smartest guy in the room.” That person occasionally provides useful information, but most of the time they just show their ass. Still trying to figure out who that person is here. But I do appreciate Dr. Wheeler’s work anyway.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Wonder how long Trump would attempt to drag out hiring a lawyer and support staff who also had the requisite security clearances?

    • Rugger9 says:

      As long as he can, naturally. It may even be semi-legitimate as well, since the intersection of necessary requirements (clearance, MAGA loyalty, impressing Individual-1 ‘artistically’, being willing to work on contingency) will severely restrict the list of available attorneys / special masters.

      However, truly competent attorneys would realize the rope-a-dope that DoJ is playing here and stop trying to short-circuit the process by demanding a special master.

      • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

        Again, don’t keep getting hung up on the actual classification of documents in this case. The only thing that has to be proven is that they’re NDI and classified and to what extent.

        Whichever adult lawyer The Donald finally retains will simply need to hire someone with or able to obtain clearance (likely a former DoD body) who would advise Counsel.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          1) Not a moderator
          2) Not patronising. I’m merely pointing out that the classification of the documents are not at all relevant to the investigation or any charges that will flow from it. Nowhere is ‘classification’ mentioned. What’s mentioned is National Defense Information.

          The people shouting loudest about ‘classification’ are the people trying to muddy the waters and we shouldn’t be parroting the irrelevancies.

        • PeterS says:

          I’m only replying because by now this is a pretty dormant post so most readers’ time won’t be wasted.

          1. Lol. You’re a relative newcomer who makes lots of comments. I’m sure EW always welcomes new readers but why should the audience be interested in quite so many opinions from a “stranger”?

          2. How about self-aware? Both eoh and R9 have been here ALOT longer than you and have most definitely earned their spurs, as it were (and, incidentally, their comments didn’t raise what “has to be proven” or “classification”).

          P.S. yes, I’m aware that I’M being patronising. 

          P.P.S. apologies to the mods for straying way out of my lane, I will not be extending this dialogue further. 

        • Rayne says:

          All good points. I’ll note that Yorkville Kangaroo is quite literally from down under; at the hour they visit they have the place to themselves. I imagine it’s a bit like talking or singing in a canyon with an interesting if odd echo.

  4. no_imagination says:

    Their seeking a special master, after two weeks no less, (and filing the motion in a court with no jurisdiction), has to be one of the more stupid moves his lawyers have made. The DOJ’s response is masterful and is starting to read like an indictment.

    Anyway, I still don’t understand how Judge Cannon can even make a ruling and DOJ, right off the bat, points out it’s not within her jurisdiction in the Summary. I mean, shouldn’t she have realized this when TFG’s lawyers filed the initial motion?

    As an aside, there’s an awful lot of citing of Nixon v GSA and United States v Nixon…

    • bmaz says:

      As this is your first comment here, I will cut your one ounce of slack. But only that. You are biting off on Fox News like bullshit. The initial search warrant was issued in SDFL, of course SDFL has “jurisdiction”. Only an idiot would argue otherwise. Is it appropriate? That is a fair question. But jurisdiction is an idiot’s argument.

      • No_imagination says:

        What are you talking about? I didn’t bring up the warrant. I was commenting about his team filing for a special master and not with Reinhart. Why do you think this is what Fox is talking about and why would it be a good thing for Cannon Not to have jurisdiction in their eyes?

        Seriously. If you think I’m some Trump boot licker FOAD.

        From the DOJ Summary

        “Furthermore, this Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment challenges to the validity of the search warrant and his arguments for returning or suppressing the materials seized”

        Now, kindly explain what DOJ meant by that.


        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          For starters, and as it says in the response, the Fourth Amendment only protects against the seizure of things you own, which might have been wrongfully taken by the government.

          The DoJ’s argument is that the search was for documents that did not belong to Trump, which means the Fourth Amendment does not apply and Trump has no right to get them back. All right, title, and interest in them belong to the government. Trump wrongfully took and kept them after he left office.

      • Concerned Canuck says:

        The constant rudeness is very off-putting.

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. By same I mean spelled the same way and with the same spacing and punctuation each time; the system sees you as a troll because you have appeared here as “ConcernedCanuck” (as you did this time), “Concerned Canuck,” and “Concernedcanuk,” each time requiring intervention by a moderator. I’ve corrected your username so it agrees with the format you’ve used most often. Please stick with it going forward.

        I’m sorry you don’t like the moderation technique here, but this isn’t Canada where everybody is polite. We have a grizzly bear here who shakes down new users who aren’t clearly friend or foe. That’s how we roll. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          One German I worked with in Asia described Canadians as like Americans, but with manners.

          Reminds me of those old sailors’ maps. When the cartographer knew nothing about a stretch of sea, he substituted, “there be monsters there,” for his ignorance. But really, all you need is a good watch and sextant and you can navigate here just fine.

      • Joeff says:

        Excuse me. I think DOJ Response makes pretty clear they see a jurisdiction problem. See top of p. 3. Pretty sure lack of standing is a jurisdictional claim.
        I hold no brief for Mr. Imagination, but go easy. Marcy doesn’t need pit bulls like you guarding her penumbras and “cutting slack”, vel non, to apparently good faith commenters.

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Community members can’t see what moderators see on the backend of this site. You’ve made an assumption that a moderator here doesn’t see something which might cause them to be leery about a new commenter. Allow moderators who’ve been doing this over a decade now to exercise their judgment; stay on topic. /~Rayne]

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Refuting an opponent’s jurisdictional claims is not the same as being worried about your own arguments that there is none.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There are many federal judges sitting in the SDFL. DoJ’s assertion is that Cannon wasn’t the correct one, since Reinhart had jurisdiction over and approved the search warrant. They could have but didn’t specifically raise the issue that PRA cases initiated by a former president should statutorily be initiated in federal court in DC.

      There are few legal precedents concerning misuse of presidential records by a former president. About the only cases to cite would involve Nixon. On the other hand, Trump is a career-long scofflaw.

      • Rugger9 says:

        It’s a question I had raised earlier, but as I understand it Reinhart the magistrate judge (used for warrants and more routine stuff) is backstopped by Cannon the district judge in this case (Judge R’s time is shared, apparently). I would note that like you did it doesn’t appear Reinhart was done with the warrant yet (i.e. challenges, etc.) but maybe challenges get kicked to the district judge.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I must have missed the news that Reinhart was specifically backstopped by Cannon rather than other judges in the district. There is little coordination to suggest that. It looks more like Trump was forum shopping, to get around Reinhart’s less equivocal application of the law.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Fwiw, I also read that Cannon was the backtop, if you call it that, to Reinhart, while also reading that going to Cannon was judge-shopping. Incidentally, in case anyone missed it, Trump tried shopping for this judge another time, in his sweeping case against H. Clinton, I think.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          What is this ‘backstop’ you speak of? Isn’t that the cage behind home plate?

          As I outlined before, and asking bmaz for validation again, my understanding is that Magistrates have cases handed down to them in a pool from the Title III guns.

          Once the Magistrate gets a case he does what any other judge would do with the case. He hears it and issues directions, etc.

          There is some talk that Reinhart was ‘paired’ with Cannon (not sure if that’s true or not) but that pairing is simply about somewhere for the Magistrate to go if they have questions, issues, concerns, etc.

          The Magistrate works independently and is answerable to no one else and any questions about the veracity of their rulings would move to the appellate court.


        • Rugger9 says:

          I don’t think Reinhart was solely tied to Cannon, she was just the next name up on the rotation (unless proven otherwise) for district judges to handle challenges. It is odd to me that Reinhart didn’t hear the challenge first since it was his warrant that led to the search.

        • Joeff says:

          I haven’t delved into USMJ practice recently but I do know they’re not the last word and that their actions are appealable to a USDJ. Id assume a warrant case would go next to chief judge for district.
          Trump initiated a separate, collateral action, for which there is patently no jurisdiction.
          That said, I’ll wager Judge Cannon (who seems to have legit creds) doesn’t leave Trump “empty (get it?)” handed, at least to maintain her Fed Soc standing.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          As someone wrote in an earlier post in this series, each magistrate judge may be “linked” with several district judges. FWIW, there are 16 magistrate judges in the Southern District of Florida and 27 district judges. The “pairings” are done at a more local level. Reinhart, at West Palm Beach, is “paired” with Martinez, Bloom, Altman, Moreno, Graham, Rosenberg, and (for civil matters only) Marra, as well as Cannon. But he is the only magistrate judge for WPB assigned to Cannon.

      • No_imagination says:

        It’s a bit of joke, of course there’s only reference to Nixon – DOJ states there are no other precedents. They stated as much in their response. Anyway, it seems pretty bad when you are in a league with Nixon, and that’s an understatement..

      • No_imagination says:

        I had read that PRA cases should be in federal district court in DC. Is there any particular reason you think that DOJ, while only referring to it obliquely in the summary, didn’t raise the issue? Any advantage or disadvantages for them not doing so?

  5. Jenny says:

    Thank you Dr. Marcy for putting the puzzle pieces together with ease.

    “In my administration, I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information.”
    Donald Dump

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

  6. ThomasH says:

    Even though my gastroenterologist has made popcorn a forbidden food for me, I’m thinking about investing in popcorn futures given the copious amounts being popped watching this spectacle.

    • Rugger9 says:

      For now the ‘clever and cunning’ (h/t Blackadder) plan of the GQP is to pretend the classified doc pictures are fake. Gym Jordan went off on it, loudly saying on HJC-GOP Twitter that the real classified info was the Time Magazine cover.

      So, it would seem for the time being that the NY Post op-ed (signaling Murdoch disapproval) that thrashed Individual-1 is an outlier of GQP opinion. The longer they hold on to their delusions, the better for the Ds in November.

      I also wonder how the Truth Social meltdown will be included in future DoJ motions, since a lot of ‘interesting’ stuff was said and FWIW it appears Truth Social will be going bankrupt.

      • jhinx says:

        Hope someone (DoJ?) has all the Truth Social posts archived before the whole thing goes dark.

        Diarrhea of the mouth: see also Gym Jordan.

      • BirdGardener says:

        You saw that Google Play has so far declined to distribute Truth Social on its Play Store due (IIRC) to their failure to remove posts that incite violence? I can’t find the article I read this morning (thought it was on the bbc but didn’t see it in a quick check), but here’s Axios’ article:

        Didn’t know about the second part of this sentence!: “The company owes one of its tech vendors over $1.6 million, Axios has confirmed, and the blank-check company looking to merge with it and take it public is under investigation by federal securities regulators.”

        • Hika says:

          Who could have predicted that a tech/media company built on Trump’s ego and run by Devin Nunes is finding life difficult? I expect everyone else is as shocked as I am.

  7. hollywood says:

    Per his history, Trump is always searching for his Roy Cohn. Since he cannot keep it 100, Trump needs counsel who can tell it straight or who can convince the court that he/she is doing so. But who in Trump’s roulette wheel of attorneys would fill this role? Even if there is such a person, surely his/her efforts would soon be stymied by Trump’s behavior. How do you mount a defense for Lucifer?

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      Which ultimately proves what a dunderhead The Donald actually is!

      He sat at the knee of Cohn for decades learning what he should and should not do. One of the things Cohn would have told him was to STFU often.

      That he has to have someone bleating in his ear now what he should do just illustrates how short his attention span is and just how ‘very, very large’ his ‘brain’ is.

  8. benfdc says:

    The First Law of Holes (when you find yourself in one, stop digging) would seem to dictate that Trump withdraw his motion before Judge Cannon rather than file a reply today.

    But I don’t think Trump believes in the First Law of Holes. So the question then becomes whether a reply can be drafted which (1) says what Trump wants to say and (2) an attorney is willing to sign.

  9. bbleh says:

    This is all very nice to read, but I still have the nagging worry that, whatever marginal damage Trump may be doing to his own case by opening the door to these kinds of filings, he may yet accomplish what appears to be his PRINCIPAL purpose, ie, delaying the case substantially. It would all seem to turn on the exact balance in the Honorable Judge Cannon’s head between her interest in her own career in the larger right-wing ecosystem on the one hand and the interests of the nation and of judicial impartiality on the other. I guess we’ll know soon enough.

    • Sonso says:

      The goal and the method are one and the same: chaos. The act has become the man, and the man has become the act. There are fellow travelers in Russia, China, Hungary, and elsewhere.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      If his principal purpose is to delay the case, he’s doing a very poor job of it. This current lawsuit has virtually no chance of impacting the timing of a potential criminal prosecution. What he had been doing up until the FBI search was delaying the return of documents to NARA and subsequently to the FBI. After the search, he stopped doing that. And I think figuring out why his strategy changed is probably important. I don’t have a theory yet.

      • bbleh says:

        Are you sure about that? Suppose a SM is appointed, and the judge accepts that Executive Privilege MAY be implicated and should be part of the SM’s remit, and the SM’s review takes MONTHS — as has been the case in previous cases — and then ANY finding of privilege OR lack of it is litigated, and appealed, and all the while any documents about which any claim of EP is made are effectively off limits? Or if DOJ contests a decision about the SM or his/her remit, and then THAT is litigated, and appealed? And it probably wouldn’t take long to come up with some other scenarios.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          Yes, I’m sure. You can judge for yourself whether my certainty is warranted. If Trump wanted a Special Master appointed, he would have filed for one on the same day the search warrant was executed. It’s not like his lawyers spent all that time making sure the filing they made was legally perfect.

        • bbleh says:

          I guess I’m not sure that Trump would have filed on the same day because it’s not clear to me either that he has anything resembling a long-term strategy or that his ever-rotating cast of lawyers, not all of whom seem to have reputations for brilliance, could have conceived and executed one in a timely manner despite him. The filing for a SM might have been simply an idea that came up in an impromptu discussion, perhaps as the political narrative started going in a way he didn’t like (remember he was reportedly very happy at first), and Trump liked the idea of asserting EP (and the sound of the words “Special Master”), and it was generally agreed that it might throw some sand in the gears, especially if they could get the right judge, and he said “do it.”

          I don’t think coherent, complex, or long-term strategy is a reliable predicate for explaining Trump’s actions. At least according to one biographer, his MO has always been to “wing it” pretty much day-by-day.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump responded within hours when he thought the seizure of Michael Cohen’s electronic devices might contain data harmful to him.

        • Ichibod Crane says:

          True. But he has burnt through a lot of lawyers since then. If you could grade lawyer competency, I think this would plot as a negative (decaying) logarithmic curve.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Trump knows nothing of the law, other than that he’s always a target of it.

          He just listens to his various lackeys and if what they say sounds clever or ‘buzzy’ he’ll do just that and say, “Do it.”

          He has no concept of strategic or tactical thinking, he won’t have thought through the possible implications and then he’ll actively undermine what his guys are actually doing without even realising it.

        • timbo says:

          For someone who knows nothing of law, he certainly seems to spend quite a bit of time trying to avoid the consequences of violating various and sundry.

  10. William Bennett says:

    Here’s what bugs me. This has from the start all been within DJT’s control. At every decision point this could have been resolved in a way that would have stayed out of the public view and faded into silence, but instead went toward escalation, and that was all in his hands. He could easily have just returned all the docs when they were first requested (or never kept them in the first place), they’d have gone to Nat Archives as they were supposed to by law, and there’d have never been a further peep about it. Instead, he kept escalating it, holding back some of the docs, forcing a subpoena, lying about returning all of it, etc etc. Even with the search warrant-based seizure, it was TRUMP who publicized it, not the FBI, and Trump who raised all the hoopla about disclosures etc., which prevented it being handled quietly and possibly without even any question of indictments etc. For national security reasons alone the preference would have been to do it all quietly behind the scenes, assessing and limiting the damage, not blaring the whole thing out to the world and shattering our allies’ confidence in our ability to keep their secrets as well as our own. Generating that uncertainty at a time when we’re engaged in a proxy war in Ukraine, in which the flow of intelligence materials is crucial, sure seems like a net plus for Trump’s favorite slavic dictator.

    But the media coverage buries it all so deep in tick-tock that it obscures the fact that along it has been DJT who has been driving it toward confrontation, not the other way around. Especially pisses me off when the GOP then turns around and claims it’s something Biden did for political reasons, when **their** boy is the one who forced it into the public view in the first, second and last place. And now “there will be riots in the streets!” Lindsey promises. Will be wild!

    Kinda has the odor of a BigLie/Jan6 2.0 in that respect. Only last time they had a focal point for their half-baked Reichstag Fire plan—Fake Electors to the Rescue!—but this time there’s nothing like that. If the indictments they’ve done their best to provoke do come down, that’s going to shift perceptions in ways I don’t think they can predict. Cult leaders need the aura of invincibility they cultivate, and when it takes a hit the whole thing can crumble pretty fast. My sense of “there will be riots!” is that it all feels pretty top-down at this point. Desultory clumps of twenty people in the midst of a vast and empty plaza, and dignitaries bowing out at the last minute. “I’m just here for Kid Rock, and now he ain’t even coming!”

    • Paulka says:

      I have this nagging suspicion that this whole thing is tied into his Big Lie. I am not in any way sure how it fits in, but the thought goes in my head that Trump “believes” he is still the president or should be, thus he is entitled to the documents. You can see this echoed in his motion, where he refers to himself as President and insists on retention of Executive Privilege, which on the face seems ridiculous to someone who does not believe Trump won the 2020 election. So perhaps the thought motivating Trump is that to admit he was retaining something he didn’t have a right to is an admission that he lost the 2020 election. And I, for one, do not have full confidence that the current SC would not find a way to justify his arguments for his retention of EP.

      • Rayne says:

        Might be bucking for an insanity defense, going full Colonel Jessup with a claim that we can’t handle the truth, he’s the only president, only he alone can fix this, blah-blah-blah…

        • L. Eslinger says:

          So, at what point did Trump clearly pass into the realm of insanity?
          Or do prior behaviors, which may have caused people to discuss invoking section 4 of the 25th ammendment, serve to substantiate such an excuse?

          [note: this is not a serious comment]

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          To be clinically insane he’d have to be assessed by an expert. Maybe Mary would do it pro bono.

          But, seriously, you can be found not guilty by reason of insanity but the very deliberate nature of all this would not bode well in such a defense I would have thought.

          In the end his actual defense (other than saying, “I am the all powerful and knowing POTUS’) will be that his advisers told him this was all kosher and he had absolutely no way of knowing otherwise.

      • SMF88011 says:

        My fear is that Dear Leader, when taken into custody, will incite a level of confrontation that will make the January 6 Insurrection look like a Sunday School Picnic. It amazes me how many Trumpinistas feel that he can do NO wrong nor should be held accountable for things that if it was Biden, Obama or Clinton had done they would be crying out for heads on a platter.

        • cmarlowe says:

          You’re channeling Lindsay Graham.

          Doubt it for anything involving a large number of people. I would be more worried about something more like Tim McVeigh.

        • HW3 says:

          I think he burned his chance to get another torch & pitchfork & flag-spear & bike rack mob when he left the January 6 clowns to their own devices in the Capitol rather than going to support them.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        It is very much tied to the Big Lie in one major, overlooked respect: Trump is making money off this new circus, too. Once again I’m getting fundraising emails addressed to “Friend” with unsubtle guilt-inducing language about abandonment and trust–designed to extort $$ for “President Trump,” once and future king of those swayable by fear and hate.

        It’s working. He’s pulling the same con he pulled prior to January 6, 2021, painting his situation as desperate while “they” persecute “YOU!!!”

    • MB says:

      If this morphs into Will-Be-Wild 2.0, the venues are diluted (and he has no pre-event speech to be giving). He specifically mentioned NYC, DC and Atlanta as the geographic areas where he expects riots should take place. All areas where the various legal actions are ongoing…

      • Rugger9 says:

        I understand Individual-1 is speaking in PA on Saturday. Maybe we’ll see if there is anything new then.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        So true. Having looked into this since I commented two days ago, I’ve learned that Trump’s fundraising was down in early summer for the first time in his post-presidency. His “Raid!” screams drove it up bigly, to over a million a day. He is still soaking donors for all he can, which may be the long game behind all of this–keeping all those “hoax” docs in the first place, stiffing Jay Bratt in June.

        The RNC is struggling to fundraise, meanwhile, whilst continuing to foot his legal bills. Go figure.

        Trump reportedly considers this money “his.”

    • Badger Robert says:

      A lot of Tom Hagens at the last minute telling the Tessio potential rioters, sorry I can’t make it either, as the LE encircle the potential rioters.

    • noromo says:

      Someone here, in another thread, quoted Hamlet: “Hoist with his own petard.” Which makes Trump Claudius, in this analogy. But — sticking with Shakespeare — I’ve always seen Trump as more Malvio, in his yellow, cross-garter stockings: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em!”

      Btw, thanks Doc, et al. ;-)

    • Yogarhythms says:

      Wb, Ew, et al,
      Veiled threats…Will b wild… are not capturing the Militia leadership. Drip by drip J6r’s are pleading and being sentenced to years behind bars not receiving field Promotion’s from 45 as 2021 is not the new 1776 as promised. Leading prison yard general population isn’t the reward fantasy veterans leading J6 promised themselves and family. Sure rank and file individuals will be willing but without state militia leadership I don’t see the inertial moment coalescing to support stop the steal revenge 2.

    • Ruthie says:

      Forgive me if someone has raised this issue previously, but in reading your comment it occurred to me that by screeching out news of the search, Trump effectively warned anyone with whom he shared or to whom he sold any of the information in his possession, a la “Russia, if you’re listening…”

    • Zinsky says:

      I don’t think an indictment of Trump would trigger any widespread violence. Look at what happened after the search of Mar-A-Lago (which Trump himself brought to the media’s attention) – a dozen or so supporters show up outside with signs, banners and random weapons. There may be a few isolated incidents of “lone wolf” violence or bombings of “soft targets” but my observation is that Trump supporters are neither brave enough or smart enough to launch large-scale assaults without help, as they got on 1/6/21. But, most of the tactical planners on the right who could pull that off (e.g. Joe Beggs, Enrique Tarrio, Stewart Rhodes) are already in jail or in hiding. Again, kudos to Ms. Wheeler for being the best resource on the Web for national security and legal analysis!

  11. Puriya says:

    Could Alina be the witness whose testimony was used for probable cause for the search warrant?

    Can we conclude that she was not because, if she were, she would need to recuse herself from representing him in this other case? Or do mediocre lawyers go around doing strange things?

  12. Frank Probst says:

    Random observation: It seems to me that if you use pixie dust to Insta-declassify a document, you should at least be required to tear off the cover page that says “TOP SECRET/SCI”.

    (Yes, I know it’s written on every page of the document itself, but that photograph is just flat-out jaw-dropping. It’s pretty much the DoJ saying: “In case it’s not clear to you yet, THIS is how bad it looks.”)

    • bbleh says:

      It really is a classic narco-bust photo. And for anyone who has ever worked with classified documents, it’s bound to bring on a case of heebie-jeebies.

  13. Randy Baker says:

    It’s always consoling to see your continued careful documentation of new circumstances indicating DOJ may be pursuing a prosecution of Trump. I remain concerned that this possibility is not being pursued at a pace diligent pursuit of the facts under the law warrants, but rather at an extremely slow pace, reflecting the fact Trump is a powerful, rich, white guy, whom Garland rather would not prosecute. In the case of the documents, that DOJ waited six months from notice of his refusal to produce them, to seeking a warrant for their return is not reassuring. Neither was DOJ’s putative initial reliance on the June 3d letter from Trump’s counsel stating that she was “custodian” of the records, and “based upon the information that has been provided to me,” there had been a “diligent” search and all documents responsive to the subpoena were being returned. That representation proved nothing, and DOJ undoubtedly knew that immediately– and yet still took months to seek the warrant.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Lot of easily challenged assumptions in there. DoJ obviously did not rely on Bobb’s certification. It continued to conduct further detailed investigation and built the case, internally and with the Archives for the search warrant that Reinhart granted. That doesn’t happen as quickly as the next news cycle comes round.

      • Randy Baker says:

        Seems to me the “conduct further detailed investigation and buil[d] the case” should have taken place in February, one year after they learned from the archive Trump was refusing to return the docs.

        • Randy Baker says:

          A warrant requires facts establishing a “fair probability” the goods were there, not proof BRD — not even a preponderance of the evidence. Trump had confirmed he had them, and I believe at Mara Lago, and even in which portions thereof. Even if they had to sleuth somewhat more, which I doubt, 6 months is rather slow given the above. That there was reason to believe his possession of these documents threatened national security underscores that 6 months almost certainly was caused by Trump being powerful, rich, and white — not the intricacies of establishing probable cause.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Then tell the DoJ you disagree with their process and that your sense of time is superior to theirs. Let me know how that works out.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Mark Sumner at Daily Kos has a fuller response concerning one theme about how this process took so long.

          Basically, people in authority were bending over backwards to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, and allow him to resolve these issues informally. After all, indicting a former president would be unprecedented, time consuming, intensely divisive, and immensely expensive. Instead, Trump’s response amounted to, “Bring it on!” OK, then.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Nonsense. Prosecutors like this REGULARLY prosecute ‘rich, white guys’. When it comes to National Security they ESPECIALLY don’t care.

      • Marika says:

        I have seen many and signed a few certifications re searches for relevant documents. The certification in this case does not describe a thorough search at all. If you compare it to the certification given in the AG case you can see what I mean. Could the fact that this certification is so lacking be part of the justification for the search warrant or would DOJ have been required to object to the certification and allow them to put together one that details exactly where they searched and when?

  14. Badger Robert says:

    1. The court requested a more detailed listing. The DofJ appears to have provided one in the sealed filing.
    2. The court requested a status report on the material. Ms. Wheeler noted the DNI is conducting a damage assessment now with the classified information. I don’t understand how the executive branch would concede the right to access this information to the judicial branch until all security issues have been resolved. If that imposes some delay in the actions against the claimant, the government will assert the national interest requires
    the delay.
    3. We still don’t know what privilege is asserted with respect to which particular documents. DofJ did not elaborate on the work of its privileged teams. They are going to make the claimant provide the specifics. To me the statutes eliminate any assertion of executive privilege for anyone not currently working for the administration. No attorney created documents have been identified. But memos from a number of attorneys in the categories Ms. Wheeler already created were likely retained by Trump.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      3. And that’s the point. No one from The Donald’s sterling legal stable has identified anything belonging to him as privileged in any way. It’s more likely that the FBI know more about what they hold that’s A-C than The Donald’s minions do.

  15. Owlmirror says:

    The most recent filings have been from the news media, collectively asking for the list of classified documents (“more detailed Receipt for Property specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant”) to be unsealed. They’re citing the DOJ’s own words as justification:

    Plaintiff also sought a more detailed receipt for the property seized during the August 8, 2022 execution of the search warrant. D.E. 1 at 19-21; see generally D.E. 28. The Court ordered the government to file under seal “[a] more detailed Receipt for Property specifying all property seized pursuant to the search warrant.” D.E. 29 at 2. The government filed today under seal, in accordance with the Court’s order, the more detailed receipt. Although the receipt of property already provided to Plaintiff at the time of the search, see In Re Sealed Search Warrant, No. 22-MJ-8332 (S.D. Fla.) (hereinafter, “MJ Docket”), D.E. 17 at 5-7, is sufficient under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41, the government is prepared, given the extraordinary circumstances, to unseal the more detailed receipt and provide it immediately to Plaintiff.

    So it looks like the prediction that the list of documents would not itself contain classified information was correct. The DOJ filed under seal only because it was so instructed, and has no problems with the list being unsealed and made public.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      I think you’ll find the DoJ do indeed have problems unsealing any such list as it would compromise information and jeopardise their investigation.

      The court so ordered because it knows this is some sensitive shit and the DoJ would wholeheartedly agree. The only people clamoring for more is the press and the alt-right agitators.

      • The Baffled King says:

        I think you’ll find that Owlmirror quoted DOJ’s own filing, the most relevant part of which was their statement that they were “[…] prepared, given the extraordinary circumstances, to unseal the more detailed receipt […]” (08/30/2022; United States’ Response To Motion For Judicial Oversight And Additional Relief; Page 2; Footnote 1). It would be very odd indeed for DOJ to VOLUNTARILY offer to unseal the list if, as you claim, unsealing it would “jeopardise their investigation”.

      • Owlmirror says:

        For the record, when I wrote about a prediction “that the list of documents would not itself contain classified information”, this is what I was referring to:

        there’s a zero percent chance that DOJ voluntary brings classified information before this judge, whether it be in the more detailed property receipt she ordered, or in any other filing.

        DOJ can easily comply with her request for a more detailed property receipted without revealing classified information. The government does this all the time in FOIA cases, in what’s called a Vaughn Index — which is essentially a privilege log. They’ll do the same here.

        A sample property receipt entry might say:

        “10/14/2019 CIA Intel Report marked TOP SECRET/HSC/NOFORN/ORCON.”


        “3/23/2020 Memo from DNI Ratlcliffe to APSNA O’Brien marked SECRET/NOFORN.”

        You might get a vague subject-matter description on top of that, but that’s it.

  16. Opiwan says:

    I know this is jumping ahead eleventy billion steps or thereabouts, but given the DoJ’s demand for pre-existing clearance for a Special Master, should one even be appointed, how the hell would you go about picking a jury for eventual trial? Does there have to be some stipulation by both sides that the docs and info within are, in fact, classified at the appropriate level, etc. etc. so as to avoid mentioning what they actually encompass? It’s not as if you’re going to select the jury from a list of TS/SCI holders of the appropriate compartments, right?

    Under normal circumstances (hah, normal), I can’t imagine any case like this making it to trial such that jury selection would even be necessary, but with FPOTUS, the show must always go on because the spectacle is the point. No press is bad press, etc., pick the worn out phrase of your choice.

    • Owlmirror says:


      how the hell would you go about picking a jury for eventual trial? Does there have to be some stipulation by both sides that the docs and info within are, in fact, classified at the appropriate level, etc. etc. so as to avoid mentioning what they actually encompass?

      Funny you should ask – emptywheel has been posting about it on Twitter:

      2) DOJ cannot charge unless & until they find what @BVanGrack just educated me are called “Goldilocks” docs: Sensitive enough a jury would deem them NDI, but not so sensitive that declassifying them for prosecution would do more harm than good

      • Owlmirror says:

        emptywheel posted an example of a Goldilocks doc — a collection of CIA cables used as an exhibit for the Jeffrey Sterling espionage case. This is a 41MB pdf, btw,

        It’s worth noting a few points:

        1) This is a declassified doc — which means that every instance of “SECRET” as a classification mark is struck through, and DECLASSIFIED is stamped above. SECRET is struck through on EVERY page of the doc, top and bottom, and more than one occurrence on each page because SECRET is used to lead into and end blocks of the text that was printed as well as on the document itself.

        2) This is not an exact replica of the original. The pages are numbered, and there are obviously pages missing. Redactions are made throughout the doc where names are replaced with initials.

        So it seems reasonable to conclude that a Goldilocks document can be a redacted copy of an original, and it is the redacted copy that is declassified.

        Given the stories in the news about CIA human assets being found and killed, it occurs to me that if any of these killings took place during Trump’s presidency, and any of the found documents have critical information about these human assets, a Goldilocks document might be a redacted copy showing that there was enough information to find that asset. Combine that with evidence that agents of the country that killed the asset were visitors to Mar-a-Lago, and that leads to the plausible inference that Trump’s violations of the Espionage Act got people killed.

  17. PeterS says:

    I’m wondering if there can ever have been a case where the care taken by the DOJ is so inversely proportional to the quality of the defendant’s legal strategy and filings.

  18. Jacob Abernethy says:

    Why was the “safe” mentioned? There’s no mention in the filing that the office safe was used to store documents. Wasn’t the safe empty?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump was reported to have said the safe was empty, a good indicator it wasn’t. Trump also said “they” broke into my safe, a good indicator they properly gained access to it during the search.

      Storing NDI or classified information in it would not protect it to the level federal rules require. Not remotely. A foreign agent with access to MAL, whose security is notoriously porous, would get into a typical hotel or private safe as fast as a car thief would get into a stock ’67 Camaro.

      • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

        Im not sure The Donald actually said this about the safe not holding materials but then I don’t read all his proclamations.

        I believe it was Junior that said this.

        Happy to be corrected.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Team Trump’s response to the DoJ:

    It’s basic thrust is threefold, and mimics the realtor’s saw about the importance of a house’s location. Here, it is, special master, special master, special master.

    To use correct legal jargon, it’s a mishmash, a jumble of phrases, and a pile of shit. It repeats earlier lies and false context. It’s snide, dismissive, and extremely weak. It badly misconstrues precedent regarding the propriety of appointing a SM. A wag also noted that Trump’s new Florida lawyer, the former state solicitor general, did not join in this filing.

    I wonder if Trump actually agreed to the engagement and paid what should be a hefty upfront fee. Or did Trump jump the gun, make the announcement, and has now lost the ability to hire this particular attorney.

    • Ruthie says:

      A legal commentator on Chris Hayes’ show, don’t remember her name, called it word salad.

      She also reiterated the point that the lawyers will either be witnesses or possible co-defendants, and further speculated that if it’s the latter they are very unlikely to go to jail on Trump’s behalf. If that came up here at EW, I missed it.

    • Sela says:

      Looks like they are trying to use the Chewbacca defense in this response. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the judge not to fall for it, given her pre-existing condition.

    • Thorindal says:

      The quote that stuck out to me in the Trump team Response was the footnote on page 15 about diaries/journals/medical records and that “Movant submits that any records containing highly personal information should be segregated
      from the Seized Materials and returned”. This is in contrast to the Govt reply quote “certain personal effects were commingled with classified material in the Seized Evidence, and they remain in the custody of the United States
      because of their evidentiary value. Personal effects without evidentiary value will be returned”

      It makes me wonder whether Trump had a diary in the drawer with the classified material, or possibly his health records from when he got COVID and went to Bethesda hospital. A diary would most definitely have “highly personal information”, probably have a large amount of evidentiary value related to intent and be something that he doesn’t want to get out.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:


          JUST the sort of thing that would lead to a very classified assessment being made by the relevant three-letters organisation and that The Donald might hold onto.

          “See how brave I was? I didn’t even have anaesthetic so I NEVER stopped being POTUS!”

          Also, perhaps, the sort of material that the DoJ could allow to be disclosed at trial if they needed to.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A NYT reporter on Stephanie Ruhle tonight said a few things that were revealing of the NYT’s mentality, but demonstrably false. Comparing the Trump administration to Bush/Cheney’s, he said the latter was rule honoring and law abiding. That’s likely to come as a shock to millions of Americans, Iraqis, and Afghans.

    He characterized Trump as having “obliterated” those rules, then used a Bush/Cheney description, with no awareness of its irony, to say that he created a new reality the rest of us just have to live with. Lastly, he went out of his way to describe the search at MAL as involving “documents,” in a way that avoided the word, “crimes.”

    Bullshit. For starters, Trump did not “obliterate” standards, he violated them. The DoJ may call him to account for that. The voters already did in 2020. The new reality is Trump and the GOP’s fascism. That’s something we have to fight, not live with.

  21. Rugger9 says:

    LGM has an interesting take for a contributing factor on why Individual-1 had all those documents: it was sheer graft. Remember, a penny is never left on the sidewalk by TFG, and this kind of activity fits in well with earlier attempts to hold serious international events at his properties (in addition to billing the USSS top dollar for room and board).

  22. Rugger9 says:

    LGM has an interesting take for a contributing factor on why Individual-1 had all those documents: it was sheer graft. Remember, a penny is never left on the sidewalk by TFG, and this kind of activity fits in well with earlier attempts to hold serious international events at his properties (in addition to billing the USSS top dollar for room and board).

  23. Rugger9 says:

    LGM’s article is worth reading, since it shows that greed is also a contributing factor for event around M-a-L. It fits in with the billing of USSS for room an board at inflated rates, the Old Post Office graft, and those attempts to have international events at M-a-L, for example. DoJ will probably have to search Bedminster, Doral, Turnberry, etc. as well to get a full grasp of the missing documents.

  24. Rugger9 says:

    LGM’s article is worth reading, since it shows that greed is also a contributing factor for event around M-a-L. It fits in with the billing of USSS for room an board at inflated rates, the Old Post Office graft, and those attempts to have international events at M-a-L, for example. DoJ will probably have to search Bedminster, Doral, Turnberry, etc. as well to get a full grasp of the missing documents.

  25. Bears74 says:

    I’m curious whether NARA has been made whole in re to the documents that they knew were missing. Could we potentially see another search warrant for other properties?

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      Two ways to look at that question.

      1) If they are going to charge on Obstruction then you would suggest yes
      2) If they have enough already but don’t want to rock the political boat any further they could just go with what they already have

      The problem I have with 2) is that the INTEL community will want to get back EVERY single bit of material that’s not accounted for.

      [Helpful Hint: double check your username and email fields when submitting comments. Typos frequently cause comments to be held up in moderation. I’ve fixed this one because it was an obvious error. /~Rayne]

  26. Mister Sterling says:

    This case has reached a crucial threshold. If the Judge grants a special master, then the DOJ should indict when the master is done doing whatever the FBI already did. If the master is not ordered, then it is time to indict now. Trump is probably hours away from fleeing to Israel, Turkey or Russia.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. By same I mean exactly the same, with no new punctuation. I’ve taken the liberty of changing “Mister_Sterling” to “Mister Sterling” which you have used for the previous +40 comments you’ve published here. Please use that here forward. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rugger9 says:

      Agreed with you on the flight risk, and agree with Sela about why it’s not Israel, adding that Bibi is no longer in power and that friendship was more transactional. MBS on the other hand might make Individual-1 a deal he can’t refuse.

  27. Alan Charbonneau says:

    “Trump is probably hours away from fleeing to Israel, Turkey or Russia.”
    Let him go It’ll be fun to hear the MAGA talking points.

  28. William Allen Simpson (DayDreamer) says:

    /quote “But the Government reads into the Presidential Records Act an enforcement provision that does not exist; the law exhorts a former President to interface with the Archivist to ensure the preservation of Presidential records, but it does not oblige the former President to take any particular steps with respect to those records.”

    Every time I’ve read a variant of this assertion, in my mind I hear: “You can’t make me, na na na na naa naa.”

    Those criminal statutes precede the PRA. Congress didn’t need a new enforcement provision, avoiding ex post facto laws.

    Moreover, how in the world will he get away with repeating this is his “home”? He doesn’t live in a commercial building storage closet near a publicly accessible pool. He doesn’t live in a dressing room (cum office) of the bridal suite at a commercial resort. Neither seems connected to his living quarters. Maybe this will link to the financial investigations. Who actually owns the commercial buildings? How much is paid for rent, and for what locations? Who is paying the rent?

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