Trump Stored Some of the Nation’s Most Sensitive Secrets with His Framed Time Magazine Cover

I wrote an initial thread of my read of the filing in the Trump document theft here.

It details how the investigation evolved, from 18 USC 2071 for the torn documents and 18 USC 793 for the stolen classified documents to add 18 USC 1519 after it was clear Trump and his team were willfully withholding stuff.

It describes the three sets of inventories of documents seized, roughly as follows (the filing didn’t break down the documents seized on August 8 by classification type):

I’m interested in where the FBI found certain things on August 8. As the filing notes, 13 boxes (not 11, as suggested by the warrant receipt) contained classified information, with over 100 marked classified documents identified.

The investigative team has reviewed all the materials in the containers that the privilege review team did not segregate as potentially attorney-client privileged. Of the Seized Evidence, thirteen boxes or containers contained documents with classification markings, and in all, over one hundred unique documents with classification markings—that is, more than twice the amount produced on June 3, 2022, in response to the grand jury subpoena—were seized. Certain of the documents had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status. See, e.g., Attachment F (redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the “45 office”). The classification levels ranged from CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET information, and certain documents included additional sensitive compartments that signify very limited distribution. 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.

Documents with classified markings were found in two places: the storage room and Trump’s office.

Notwithstanding counsel’s representation on June 3, 2022, that materials from the White House were only located in the Storage Room, classified documents were found in both the Storage Room and in the former President’s office.

76 documents were in the storage room, leaving at least 25 in his office. Three of those were found in desk drawers, at least some of them with his passports.

Three classified documents that were not located in boxes, but rather were located in the desks in the “45 Office,” were also seized.


Consistent with Attachment B to the search warrant, the government seized the contents of a desk drawer that contained classified documents and governmental records commingled with other documents. The other documents included two official passports, one of which was expired, and one personal passport, which was expired. The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information; nonetheless, the government decided to return those passports in its discretion.

That leaves at least 22 documents.

The photo included as an exhibit of the filing, is described as a “redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the ’45 office’,” which must be the leatherbound box described in the search warrant returns.

That shows that Trump was keeping some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets next to a framed Time Magazine cover.

And they were probably all in a standard hotel safe.

Update: This photo has been widely misunderstood. It is part of the FBI’s inventorying process. Effectively, the agents found the leatherbound box, emptied it out, and took pictures of everything in there. The 2A shows that these are the contents of that box. See this post for more about how the FBI documents their searches.

101 replies
  1. Andrew says:

    From the look of it, the box has at least half-a-dozen frames in it. Presumably all copies of the one in front. :)

  2. johno says:

    The composition of that photo is quality. Just randomly thrown in up front, right by the Time Magazine covers, is a Secret/SCI HCS doc.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      Better yet are the unfoldered classified documents that have the text whited out but the class markings clearly visible. Not only is he caught holding the bag but he’s also (presumably) got to explain how these documents came to be unfoldered lest he be hit with a different charge.

      • Jimmy Anderson says:

        When I wrangle documents out of their folders, it is always for ease of scanning.
        No need for me to do it otherwise.

    • P J Evans says:

      No fewer than FIVE that are clearly labeled “Top Secret/SCI”. Which should never have gotten to Mar-al-Ego.

      • SMF88011 says:

        They shouldn’t see anything outside a SCIF unless it is under a special set of circumstances for a limited amount of time. The hand-carrying of classified documents is allowed but they have all sorts of requirements. I still remember Sandia Labs bringing a CD to Los Alamos that was classified Special Access Programs. All sorts of paperwork on just taking it out of the packaging. After that, there was a lot more paperwork for its destruction after the conference ended.

        I “enjoyed” the distinction of being the one that had to carry all that media and the laptop used to access it during the breaks. It was a REAL treat to have to say in a security area (SCIF) while everyone else was out to lunch with no idea when they would be back. I asked my friends to deliver to me food and drinks because I couldn’t even leave the information in a safe due to a lack of certified storage. There was one other person that was cleared for that program that had the appropriate training to “handle” these materials but it would have taken longer to transfer it to them and do the paperwork than the break entailed. *sigh*

    • BrokenPromises says:

      The photo is a crime scene evidence photo. It is not art. It’s composition is exact for documentation. Show it to a jury and they know exactly what they are seeing. Images of evidence in a location that they have just been shown of the room and the two tie together just like cuts in a motion picture. When the FBI agent answers questions about the evidence in the image jurors will certainly find his answers credible unless he contradicts the images. That won’t happen nor will defense be able to wiggle out of it. I hope you understand the photo now. To help understand that, it is science based not art based.
      (I am a photographer with direct experience.)

  3. Owlmirror says:

    I particularly liked all of the instances where they took the time to point out that neither Trump nor his lawyers stated or acted like the documents that were being given over or seized had been declassified.

    Come to think of it, had that been the case, the whole bit about the “extra lock” (securing the documents according to code) should have been moot, had the documents been declassified. The fact that they did comply in their half-assed and inadequate way could be taken to imply that they did think of the documents as still being classified.

  4. Ewan says:

    Some dates can be read on the documents. Wednesday, May 9, 2018; August 26, 2018; August 20, 2019 : they might have left the dates visible to put to rest the claim that this was all about January 6 2021.

  5. Traveller says:

    As I surmised a few posts back, it was entirely within the realm of the possible that Judge Cannon was doing the nation a huge favor by opening the door for DOJ to make an honest and relatively open response to this…motion/pleading, whatever it was. It certainly seems as though DOJ used their grant of an additional twenty pages in their filing to very good effect. A beautiful and highly polished document this is!

    Next, and what will be most fascinating, will be the filing by Mr. Trump’s attorneys before 5pm Eastern Time Wednesday. Now that will be an interesting read…and will there finally be filed by team Trump an actual affidavit/declaration as to the factual basis for their motion for the requested relief? (And just who will sign this responsive brief? (I dare say a person braver than I).

    Lastly, on Thursday, we will have the Court Hearing….that also will be super interesting…alas, I double that it will be live broadcast, though certainly the interest will be there. Still, we will have plenty of analysis on Friday morning! (less than 72 hrs from now). Exciting times. (Maybe better said…historic times)

    • Leoghann says:

      Your faith in those charlatans is amazing, even inspiring. I really don’t expect their response to be any better than the political hogwash of the original motion.

    • PeterS says:

      “Judge Cannon was doing the nation a huge favor by opening the door for DOJ to make an honest and relatively open response”. Agreed. IIRC it was another commenter who suggested she was actually trying to be helpful in that way. Since she clearly stated her “preliminary intent to appoint a special master in this case” I think any such “favor” was accidental.

      • benfdc says:

        Sounds like a comment of mine. Any sane person would have expected DoJ to file something along the lines of what we’re seeing here. That said, I know zip about Judge Cannon other than that she’s a Trump appointee with a Federalist Society background so I’m just speculating blindly.

      • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

        Nonsense. Cannon was never at liberty to insert herself into this case. She was hardly trying to do the DoJ a favor. Instead, it was The Donald that she was trying to assist.

        • KM Williams says:

          Yes. Another Trump toady working to help muddy and churn the waters (from the firehose of lies and distractions) Trump&Co. are swimming in.

  6. d4v1d says:

    Is the implied threat by judge Cannon resulting in a suddenly upbeat tempo? It looks like the DOJ is prepared, as per this website for the past 18 months.

    caveat: IANAL

  7. Tom-1812 says:

    About the photo, I’m assuming it shows how the documents and other items were actually found in situ on the floor of Trump’s office at the time of the search on August 8th. Trump was in New York at the time, so you wonder how he could have left his office–with the clearly classified files in plain view–in such a state while he was away. He really seems to have had zero regard for the importance of the information he had in his possession.

    Unless the files etc. were arranged and photographed by the FBI to provide a representative sample of what they found, but I don’t think that’s the case as I don’t think they would have photographed the items on the floor. Another example of how one picture is worth a thousand words.

    • PeterS says:

      The DOJ filing says it’s a “photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the 45 office”. So not as actually found.

      P.S. that’s a horrible carpet.

      • wetzel says:

        Arranged out on the floor, the items have been placed by the FBI photographer like the flood damage company put all the ruined things from my family’s basement to photograph one time on the cement behind the house. It has that same feeling. The photographer has a point of view that is informational rather than aesthetic. Laying the items out on the carpet is to geolocate them to the room they were found, I suppose.

        But then you see the framed TIME cover there. Now it’s entered into the realm of art. What was the photographer thinking? They are a kind of genius, though it’s a fallacy to imagine you know they could have had the thought or freedom to set that up given the circumstances. It could be an accident like God played a joke.

        • BrokenPromises says:

          You pretty much have it. The photograph is a documentation. It is actually a scientific image, Note the ruler at bottom center for scale. The cabinet on the left, the box on the right orient the docs (evidence) to exactly where they are in the room at the time the photo is snapped. It is one of certainly dozens taken in the room. Starting with the door. In my agency the room would have been documented from all four sides and then moved through the evidence found therein. Had I taken that photo the docs would have been taken from that box and not the leather bound as Marcy states. I would have made sure the leather bound box would be the first photo of box and docs to show where they came from. I say first because it may have been the only with no need to document further. But the agent may have asked for images of each doc to show and differentiate them. Think of it as a story as in cinema; wide, medium, close. You want your images ironclad for the jury. I never had to go to court to explain them. Subpoenas sat in my inbox till trial was over. In one complex case I had weeks of those subpoenas and was never called. I was disappointed on that one as it was a fascinating story. (sorry for the aside).

    • LizzyMom says:

      My guess is that the docs were laid out by the FBI — they used other (blank) papers to cover up details on the coversheets to protect sensitive information.

      Perhaps there was no table available. Also, they might have needed more space and a longer point of view (from camera to floor, instead of camera to table) to give a wider angle for the photo to show multiple items, including the cardboard box with the framed picture. Additionally, the carpet is most likely easily identifiable as carpeting at MAL, a back-up showing it was photographed there and not elsewhere.

      • Tom-1812 says:

        I’ll buy that. I’m just used to seeing drugs, weapons, cash, etc. seized in police searches and raids neatly arranged and laid out on a table top.

        • LizzyMom says:

          IANAL nor am I law enforcement, but I would be willing to bet that they did the photos in place at MAL intentionally rather than taking them back to a conference room or similar at FBI HQ. Underscores the fact that the items were there. Probably went on as an attachment to the inventory list created there. This is why they needed so many hours to complete the search.

        • Tom-1812 says:

          Again, makes sense. Less chance of Trump being able to claim they were fake files the FBI had at their office beforehand to use as phony stage props.

      • BrokenPromises says:

        Blank sheets of paper were not used. The redactions on the secret documents were done in post as in the computer on the images. Cutting pieces of paper and placing them over the pages would be a nightmare to deal with. And don’t were the image is a copy of the unmodified original.

      • Tom-1812 says:

        Thanks, Marcy. Just like the photos of mouldy fridges, overflowing toilets, kids’ mattresses on the floor, busted windows, and exposed electrical wiring that I used to take during my child protection investigation days.

  8. joberly says:

    Thanks, EW, for the handy table showing the Confidential/Secret/TS-SCI breakdown of records returned/seized in January, June, and August. We don’t know the breakdown of the 100 seized on August 8, but here’s a start: in the Exhibit F photo of ‘2A’, we can at least see that in Inventory Item #2A there were 2 Confidential documents, 1 Secret/SCI document, and 5 Top Secret/SCI documents. The inventory that the FBI provided Custodian of Records Bobb on August 8 indicates there were ten other boxes with classified documents (Items 10a; 11a; 13a; 14a; 15a; 19a; 23a; 25a; 26a; and 28a), with an unknown distribution by classification level.

    • bjet says:

      It looks like at least 4 different types of cover sheets there; in addition to the brown & yellow, looks like a few obscured red cover sheets in upper left, and the odd one with blue edged totally different type of cover layout/template (does that odd cover sheet have a whiff of Trump & Melania’s ‘aesthetics’?), which is obscured by being flipped back & under —the document directly behind the ‘2A’ card, and has a letterhead motif/insignia atop the page it’s opened to, which looks like a simplified Army insignia (fwiw), also sometimes used by general US offices & incorporated in joint (w/other IC agency) paraphernalia.

      But I see one more thing on the brown Secret cover sheet & all 5 of the yellow Top Secret cover sheets: ‘HCS.’

      13. HUMINT control system, or “HCS“ is an SCI control system to protect intel info derived from clandestine human sources [and] human intelligence activities, capabilities, techniques, processes, and procedures.

  9. joel fisher says:

    While I certainly agree with the hopes and dreams–Trump in prison–of the above commenters, I must remind the world at large: Trump has had more this-time-he’s-gone-too-far moments in the last 6 years than can be counted. He always walks away. Why? Because he controls the largest single voting block (the Democrats are an amalgam of 3-4 smaller blocks) in the US and that block wants to hear nice things about him on Fox and Fox wants money. If the current national vibe is correct, the scum in the GOP will be begging him to run in ’24, even if he’s in prison. Also, to be remembered: if there’s a criminal trial it could occur in FL–state motto: “Let’s Lick Trump’s Balls”–if SCOTUS sez so after a year(s) of appeals. I’m not getting my hopes up. Pass the Scotch.

    • Mister Sterling says:

      All true. But for Trump to emerge unscathed now, either the DOJ would have to slow their work so he could win back the presidency and have his AG stop the investigation, or there would have to be some legal miracle. Sandy Berger pled guilty to a lesser crime. Reality Winner pled guilty for a single document. This is the worst case of stolen government documents in US history.

    • JVO says:

      You had me right until “Scotch.” I’m a bourbon person. Otherwise, I feel the same but I am ready with a drink and patiently waiting to finally see a different outcome. Cheers!

    • Rwood says:

      Hit the gym this morning just so I could watch multiple TV’s and see the spin doctors at work.

      Fox had people around me LOLing. Their latest argument is that these are fake docs and that’s why we need a Special Master to verify if they are indeed real or not.

      The sad thing is that there are people who will believe that.

      As for Cannon, I fully expect her to pull some MAGA-inspired BS justification out of her arse and grant trump his delay tactic. I can’t believe there are people who still expect norms and precedent to still have any sway over what these people do.

      I’m also not seeing any talk of these docs leaving MAL and with who. No follow-up “raids” on the homes of anyone connected to this yet. Those docs didn’t just sit there.

      • bjet says:

        Nor does Trump read or have the curiosity or attention span to learn & absorb as would, I think, be required to identify what’s so ‘interesting’ to him about any one of these stolen documents he’s accumulated, and their utility to him, in order to request them, or whatever documents those were, that he requested so shortly before he left & in such suspicious abundance it set off alarms.

        He does not have the constitution or chops to legally use his access to NARA records, as a past president, for the purposes of “consulting” work, as Patel asserted, or even to very competently do so illegally, with this stolen trove at his fingertips in his home office. Someone(s) without clearance has been, imo, and was always going to be deeply involved in that “consulting,” doing most of the work, if you ask me.

  10. Raven Eye says:

    I’m wondering about which of Trump’s mindsets was at work when he “declassified” documents.

    Perhaps his “child mind” decided that if he ripped that annoying yellow or red cover sheet off a document, that document was no longer classified. At the least, those documents wouldn’t attract as much attention lying around on his desk, which would help satisfy his “Gollum mind”.

  11. Yorkville Kangaroo says:

    Better yet are the unfoldered classified documents that have the text whited out but the class markings clearly visible. Not only is he caught holding the bag but he’s also (presumably) got to explain how these documents came to be unfoldered lest he be hit with a different charge.

  12. Critter7 says:

    A number of classified documents were found in Trump’s own office, including some found in “desks”, and including “the contents of a desk drawer that contained
    classified documents and governmental records commingled with other documents” including his passports (footnote 6)

    A question to those with legal experience: Do those document locations increase his exposure to legal consequence by demonstrating personal intent?

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      I doubt it. As far as the DoJ would be concerned (and a jury ultimately) the question would be, did he illegally possess these items? There may be a case to be made if he can be seen to be attempting to hide documents such as moving docs out of the storeroom to the 45 Office, saying that these are all of it, then moving mores stuff back in later or retaining them in the 45.

      That’s why they want the video tapes.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      If I understand correctly, (and if I don’t I’m sure someone will correct me) doing anything wrong with a classified document is a crime. Removing the cover is a crime. Mixing the documents with your magazine covers is a crime. Leaving them out on your desk is a crime, particularly if you don’t lock your office door.

      • SMF88011 says:

        It is not a crime to destroy a classified document under a specific set of circumstances. Having said that, did he state these were destroyed and kept them? If he did, proof of intent to keep them is going to be easy to prove.

  13. SteveR says:

    I was rather surprised to see Trump’s post commenting on how the FBI spread the TS docs across the floor of his office. Team Trump had expended a good amount of effort trying to sow seeds of doubt that the FBI could be planting evidence. Trump’s declaration “look what they did with the documents I declassified” would seem to forfeit that “defense.”

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      Yep. Dumb and dumber. The more he talks the deeper the hole he digs in this case. I would have thought Hice would have told him to shut is gaping maw by now. Maybe he has but The Donald’s gotta Donald.

  14. WilliamOckham says:

    The dates shown in the photo are during the time period in which Trump was exchanging his “beautiful letters” of love with Kim Jong Un. If those documents relate to that exchange of letters, that would be incredibly damning for Trump. The archives knew those were missing and asked for them specifically.

  15. flounder says:

    I wonder if the leather case is that brown case at the very top of the picture? Also, I think the framed magazine covers were probably not in 2A, but FBI were photographing all this stuff quickly and they might have been opening boxes, and determined that one was not responsive or something and set it off to the side but it ends up in the edge of the image.

  16. Ddub says:

    “The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information; nonetheless, the government decided to return those passports in its discretion.”
    Is this next level bureaucratic snark? Must be just my reading lol sounds like a winning hand.

    • Jon says:

      This is the Government saying that Trump had those items in his direct personal possession, with full knowledge of what they were. The passports are now evidence and inventoried, and their location with classified documents in damning. The Government may also develop a narrative of how and why classified material came to be associated with passports, what that means, and what intentional prior or future use of those documents might represent – potentially additional and more serious crimes. Perhaps Trump was planning to travel to a foreign country with those documents and show or give those documents to some, perhaps in consideration for money or some other advantageous compensation.

      The Government is also saying that they were being generous in returning the passports, and were under no responsibility to do so, much less so rapidly. And the Government is using their filing to enumerate some of the charges that they are considering filing.

  17. BroD says:

    Ok, is there any reason to believe that this is all the documents he had? There are lots of rooms at MAL and then there’s always Bedminster etc.

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    Right to the Point

    The minute you walked in the joint
    I could see you were
    a man of conviction,
    A big offender,
    Hood lookin’, so unkind,
    Say, wouldn’t you like to know
    what’s goin’ on in my mind?

    So let me get right to the point,
    I don’t flip my lid on everyone I see,
    Big offender,
    Spend a lot less time with me!

    You never once won, won, won,
    How’s about all that graft, graft,
    It’ll all end in due TIME,
    We think someone should do time!

    “Shirley Bassey – Big Spender (from Sweet Charity) – Piano”

  19. CoolDogFalstaff says:

    Apologies up front… i don’t comment often, and it’s been a while so i may (likely) have forgotten my EW name.

    Anyway, i see all of this top secret stuff next to a box of framed magazine covers and it looks like he could have been hiding copies of our nation’s intel inside the frames in order to give them to “special” friends.

    Like a low rent james bond artsy craftsy villan.

    [You’ve had two previous usernames; I’m changing this one, “CoolDog” to match your last one, “CoolDogFalstaff” because I believe your first one may have been a real name. Please remember to use “CoolDogFalstaff” here on forward. /~Rayne]

      • SMF88011 says:

        Not a stunt but normal procedure of photographing of evidence at a search location. Further, some of the documents could have been intermingled with the stuff in that box of magazine covers. I wouldn’t put it past Trump doing something as boneheaded as this.

        Curious, have you ever handled classified documents before? I have. I know that NONE of the above is the correct method to do it.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Releasing the photo at all was, indeed, a stunt. There’s absolutely no legal imperative to release this photo.

  20. Troutwaxer says:

    Note the document just to the left of the Time Magazine covers, and just above the card which reads “2A.” Note the logo at the very top of that document, and look at the cover of that document, which has been curled under and is still visible. That’s not a standard U.S. classified document and not a standard cover. Does it belong to a foreign but english-speaking country? Or is that a U.S.-style bald eagle on the top of the second sheet? If it is a U.S. document, does anyone know which TLA it belongs to?

    You can enlarge the photograph of the documents by right-clicking on it and choosing “Open in a new tab” then clicking on the picture.

    • SMF88011 says:

      I cannot make it out clearly but that is similar to the Top Secret – Special Access Programs cover sheet. I have seen a few in my day but it is too hard to make out. The SAP cover has the name of the program on it and therefore would be something that they wouldn’t want displayed if at all possible.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        Interesting. Thank you. Is there any special significance to a Top Secret – Special Access Programs document?

        • SMF88011 says:

          The protections for those documents are even more restrictive. In the cases I have dealt with SAP, it has all been nuclear weapons design information – RRW, W-88, W-87, W-78, W-80 and B-61 weapon plans.

          I remember when I worked at LANL and we had a conference with Sandia and Kirtland AFB personnel. I was in charge of all CREM and the classified laptop being used for it. I couldn’t let that stuff out of my sight, couldn’t take it out of the SCIF on my own, with only 1 other person cleared to take over for me if I had to leave – if i had to go to the bathroom, we had to call Bob B. in to sit on the stuff while I was gone. Bob’s office was on the other side of TA-3 and would take him about 30 minutes to come over.

          At the end of the day, I had to have a pro-force escort to the main CREM library to turn over the equipment and media to the librarians. It had to be placed by me into a special safe certified to contain that level of classification and witnessed by others. In the morning, I had to go to the safe, do the usual security routine to be allowed to access the safe, have a witness sign off on what was in the safe and what I removed. I had to have a pro-force escort from the safe to the SCIF conference room.

          That little dance lasted a week. I took 2 weeks of vacation afterwards just because it was so stressful.

        • SMF88011 says:

          It depends. SAP is just something that further compartmentalizes secrets. When someone has a TS clearance, they get the ability to access TS documents on a “need to know” basis. To help keep the amount of people that have access to specific things, they have additional “levels” of TS that describe what is in them and identify whom is allowed in – TS-CNWDI means only people with a Top Secret clearance with the Critical Nuclear Weapons Design info endorsement can see that info IF they have a need to know.

          A special access program is just that – special access is required to access it. It is usually done on a “need to know” basis that is strictly followed – on an individual basis. In other words, let’s say that person A and person B both have Top Secret security clearances. They both can access top secret documents with a need to know. Person A and person B have had the CNWDI endorsements which makes it easy for everyone that has a need to know of CNWDI can access it and not just someone with a TS clearance.

          Here is where a special access program comes in. Let’s say that they are now designing a replacement nuclear warhead. The design of the warhead needs to be limited in whom can access it far beyond the CNWDI group. This is where SAP comes in. They go through the CNWDI personnel and choose whom truly might need access to the information. Let’s say person B is required to be able to access the information but person A doesn’t. Both will have the TS-CNWDI clearances but only person B will have the SAP endorsement to see that new nuclear warhead design.

          An example is a computer tech that supports that SAP program needs to be given SAP endorsement. Why? You are cleared for the highest level of material that that computer system may contain. As part of their job duties, they may have to work on a computer that has SAP documents on it. If they work on it and end up opening that SAP document, they need to know about it and therefore be trusted with the access.

          I remember getting SAP clearance on the ___ program. Why? I had to support the specialized team that did the ___ design. If their computers had problems, I needed to have permission to be able to access the SCIF, go into their separate area, access the system with “keys to the kingdom” access, and be trusted to be able to see something of that level without saying anything. While I never opened a document at that SAP level, I could have as part of my work duties and therefore needed access.

        • Literay says:

          And all this time I thought it was sigmas that determined the type of information you are allowed access to.

    • Jeffrey Gallup says:

      The document in question looks like fancy US Presidential letterhead with the Presidential seal – the kind the President might use, say, when writing to a foreign leader. The cover sheet might be folded back to show exactly this. So correspondence with which foreign leader might a certain former president want to keep close to his heart? Such correspondence might well be highly classified and kept in a special access program.

      • RationalAgent19 says:

        My belief is that persons of interest can indeed be compelled to attend an interview; they cannot be compelled to give answers to questions in the interview. Your responses would be improved if you endeavored to be more informative than literal, bmaz. Think about that.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          I think you’re talking past the people you’re answering. The FBI can certainly arrest Trump. They can certainly remove him from his cell and take him to an interrogation room. They can ask him all the questions they want – and all this might be described as a “compulsory” interview, but under the Fifth Amendment Trump is not required to answer your questions and of course he’s entitled to a lawyer. So compulsory questions, yes. Compulsory answers, no.

          Sorry to be a smart-ass, but I don’t think you were answering the question which the poster wanted answered, which I would translate as “are we at the point where we can ask Trump the hard questions and hopefully arrest him?”

  21. Amicus says:

    It’s such a well done response under time pressure concerning matters of grave import – and written to and for multiple audiences. But as I keep turning it over in my mind, it seems that there is one question that presents such enormous difficulties for Trump and his attorneys: “what seized documents does the President claim as his personal property”? With DOJ having raised the standing objection that Trump has no possessory interest in the Presidential Records (or any other agency records) what does he do? DOJ and the court are entitled to an answer to that assertion as a practical matter given Trump’s request for the return of his property. If he claims it all belongs to him, that’s an admission against interest. And if admits that those documents do not belong to him, it’s an admission as well.

  22. klynn says:

    Re office photo:

    I’m most worried about the humint file that Kyle Cheney identified in the office photo.

    This comes to mind as I worry:

    If any files poorly held end up relating to lost informants and/or agents, what charges would that result in?

    As a side note, I also read, deep in the responses of your Twitter thread last night, the suggestion of the framed photos being great for hiding a documents for removal. Still, only interesting as a side note at this point. But evidently kept a stash for giving away.

    “I have a gift for you” line caught my eye!

  23. The Baffled King says:

    I’m a bit late to the party, but just noting that emptywheel might want to correct the figures in her table for the total numbers of recovered documents with classified markings:

    – Total Confidential should be >72;
    – Total Top Secret should be >42;
    – Total (all levels) should be >322.

    Also, in the sentence introducing that table, I wonder if it might be worth stating that the totals are for documents bearing classification markings, and that the total number of documents containing classified information may rise over time? I suspect that, much like the numbers in the Clinton email investigation, any change in the numbers cited by DOJ will be both a source of genuine confusion and an opportunity for misinformation.

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