Return to Sender: DOJ Seized Evidence that Up to 90 Highly Sensitive Documents May Have Disappeared

As you read the more detailed inventory unsealed by Judge Aileen Cannon, keep in mind that Trump is under investigation not just for unlawful retention of classified documents, but also under both 18 USC 2071 and 18 USC 1519, for concealing documents and (under just 2071) for removing them.

And one of the most notable details about the inventory (aside from the fact that the Roger Stone pardon is classified Secret) is the number of empty folders:

  • Item 2: The leatherbound box, containing news clippings dated 1/2017 to 10/2018
    • 43 empty folders with CLASSIFIED banners
    • 28 empty folders labeled Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide
  • Item 15: Box A-28, containing news clippings dated 10/2016 to 11/2018
    • 2 empty folders with CLASSIFIED banners
    • 2 empty folders labeled Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide
  • Item 18: Box A-35, containing news clippings dated 1/2018 to 12/2019
    • 2 empty folders labeled Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide
  • Item 23: Box A-39, containing clippings dated 11/2016 to 6/2018
    • 8 empty folders labeled Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide
  • Item 25: Box A-41, containing clippings dated 10/2016 to 11/2017
    • 1 empty folder with CLASSIFIED banners
  • Item 33: Box A-33 (includes potentially privileged documents), containing clippings dated 2/2017 to 2/2018
    • 2 empty folders with CLASSIFIED banners
    • 2 empty folders labeled Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide

All told, then, there are 48 empty CLASSIFIED document folders and 42 empty “Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide” folders. Each of those is a highly sensitive — and now potentially missing — document.

Update: I’ve added the two empty CLASSIFIED folders in Item 15 and adjusted the headline.

Update: Here’s my initial pass at the inventory (I need to proof the numbers; my missing Secret document happened to be Roger Stone!). An important point: Every one of the boxes seized had at least 2 government documents in it. Altogether, the FBI seized over 11,000 documents without classification markings.


246 replies
    • Lady4real says:

      What is the correlation between the missing (sold?) documents and the existing newspaper articles attached therein? That seems like a tell.

  1. Marika says:

    There are a lot of marked documents that are out of folders. Do we know for sure that none of those documents came from the empty folders? I’m sure they have been figuring that out over the past few weeks. I assume the folders are marked such that they should be able to figure out what was in them?

    • bbleh says:

      If I understand correctly what they mean by “folder,” then typically they would NOT necessarily be so marked.

      If a folder and a document have an unusual combination of security markings (eg some of the more esoteric ones listed in various bits of evidence in this case) then mmmaybe. But for a document that is merely, say, TS/SCI, then not necessarily. The hope in that case would be to count up the total numbers of documents without folders and folders without documents in each category and hope they come out nearly the same.

      (And btw, what a shitshow. There is NO excuse.)

    • RayAventure says:

      I also would expect that the envelopes have some sort of marking that correlates to what is contained within. I also suspect that the judge threw Trumps defense team a bone.

  2. Bittersweet says:

    I wonder if the cover folders give any indications of what the missing contents were, and/or if some of those documents were found unsheathed? Probably hard to decipher with just a list.

    • NeoGeoHa says:

      My initial question as well. Like a serial or ID number on the coversheet/folder so if a doc goes missing the relevant agency can go back to their system(s) and ID what exactly is missing. If that is the case, that would be explosive.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Classified docs will have a page stamp with the highest level on that page, and each paragraph (and perhaps each sentence / word as necessary) will have a classification marking to aid in making redactions as needed to reduce classification levels. Any document in the folders would likely have these markings because the relevant issuing office saw them and classified them before putting them in the folders to send to Individual-1’s attention.

      That should help sort out the loose papers. However, as I read the story the papers aren’t there at all, or were not marked. That is very bad and why the IC’s hair is on fire until they figure out what is missing in a place that was notoriously slack in its recordkeeping. If there were markings on the folder covers that might help the search.

      I don’t think the IC review will be made public in any specific way (though the RWNM will scream for that info as ‘proof’ of a crime). No need to tell our adversaries anything useful.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you, Rugger9, for explaining that to us outsiders. It is helpful to know, if not, in this instance, reassuring.

    • Mary McCurnin says:

      I wonder if the docs and folders that have been retrieved can help to signal what is now missing. Maybe the documents are numbered and the missing ones are clear. I am grasping at straws here.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Sometimes a folder is just a folder — anonymous. A folder (pocket or plain) can have cover sheets on the front and back indicating the highest level of material inside. This would be so that information is handled appropriately when not secured in a container, but it wouldn’t indicate the subject matter inside. The title of a document may be classified, and sometimes the codes for the compartments are classified. In use, a custodian might load several folders with documents, those folders going into a locked bag to be couriered to different locations in the White House.

      So those folders do raise questions, but maybe a couple of additional questions. Why would Trump have kept those folders? Were they just residue of his sloppy handling?

  3. Owlmirror says:

    As with @Marika and @Bittersweet above, my first thought was that a large number (or maybe even all) of the empty folders could be matched with documents that were unfoldered.

    If any documents were actually missing — empty folders with no matching docs — wouldn’t that have been mentioned in the DOJ’s response? And maybe even possibly even be grounds for another warrant?

    • Rugger9 says:

      1. It might be part of a future response from DoJ but I don’t think that level of specificity was needed to challenge the Special Master gambit. No need to tell our adversaries too much.
      2. I think another search is coming, including Bedminster (my best guess for the next search) or Trump Tower, since Individual-1 spent significant ‘executive time’ in these places. Any TrumpOrg property where TFG stayed overnight is suspect.

        • Lorenz David says:

          I could not agree more.

          Also, if any of these properties have septic systems as opposed to municipal plumbing, I hope they will look there, too. Trump is known to flush documents, as we all know, and as this noose tightens he may try to destroy the evidence.

        • Wajim says:

          Bet you $45 that both locations are strewn with such. That is, if the Trump crew have not already had several bonfire sales in the past week or two

      • BobCon says:

        To add to the list, it may be someone else’s property, like Patel as just one example. But I think it’s awfully hard to narrow down at this point.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          At the rate at which Kash Patel has been implicating himself over the past month(s), my best guess would be he’s destroyed any trace there might have been of stolen US property. The guy was a lawyer–although his greatest talent now seems to be the self-immolation of his career.

        • BobCon says:

          He may well have.

          But — he may need them for leverage too. He may still have dreams of using them. He may have left too many receipts with people he passed them on to. He may have screwed up in covering his tracks. There are easily scenarios I don’t know about.

          And it’s also possible there are multiple people out there who have gotten docs at some point over the past 20 months.

          MW has tweeted a possibility that docs found in different locations represent different classes and motivations for taken documents. I can’t say that Patel was definitely one destination, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Trump had several different angles going on for sending docs to outside people, and at least one of them gets a serious look from investigators.

      • obsessed says:

        >I think another search is coming, including Bedminster (my best guess for the next search) or Trump Tower

        If you were Trump, but had access to your own experience and intelligence, what would you be doing now with regard to any documents currently located at these two residences? Also, why would DOJ not have searched all three simultaneously? Would they have needed some information from the first search to justify the others? Or might they lack an inside witness for the other locations?

      • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

        “All properties at which Donald J. Trump has resided since January 20, 2021 and all known offices of Donald J. Trump and The Trump Organization.”

  4. Jim Luther says:

    On 5 October 2021, the New York Times reported (and it was repeated in a number of other outlets) a secret cable stating that a concerning number of U.S. informants were being captured and executed, with dozens of incidents in the last few years that involved killings, arrests or compromises of foreign informants. I suspect that the administration’s carelessness was deadly and damaging for the entire term. The only real question is if it was intentional, or just the standard level of incompetence the administration displayed across the board.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Poor analogy. Philby was good at what he did, aided by his being a member of a small English elite, one that still engages in self-protection at the expense of much else. Trump is neither, but he has acquired his own self-protecting horde, and he has done tremendous damage to US national security.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          You’re probably right about Philby’s vs. Trump’s character, but I was referring to the damage to our security.

        • StuartC says:

          Considering how little the IC trusted him after all the ways he dissed them, and showed himself many times, unwilling or incapable of protecting the national interest and secrets: The May 2017 post election WH closed door party with Lavrov, Kislyak, and the Russian state media, but not our own media, the day after he fired Comey. Surely that put them on high alert. The Mar-a-Lago/Japanese Prime Minister secret videos fiasco. Helsinki must’ve been a special kind of hell for them.

          How could they trust him with a roll of presidential toilet paper after that? Why in the world would they give him ANYTHING in his briefings that was too sensitive, too delicate, or too much about Putin and the Russians?

          I’m guessing they filled it with what he was interested in reading about: greasy detailed tales of world leaders cheating on their spouses, or what were their “secret opinions” about Trump were. If it was up to me to decide, he would’ve gotten incomplete, somewhat misleading, outdated, or outright false information to feed whoever he was sharing it with. And I only read spy novels, I’m not in the business.

          Of course, we’ll probably never find out how the IC protected some of the most sensitive human assets, secrets and the national interest, as they surely must have done, when they realized TFG was a potential security leak the size of a tsunami. And we’ll probably never find out the extent of the damage TFG did, either. Hopefully, though, the IC kept track of whatever they gave him, knew what he had, and were able to limit any security leaks.

        • JannieP says:

          Fiona Hill said she contemplated faking a heart attack to interrupt when she heard Trumps’s drift in Helsinki. Intertrumpting, as it were.

  5. Marika says:

    We know Trump replaced a lot of career people with his flunkies particularly at the end. I wonder if this complicates the determination of what is actually missing. Did he manage to interrupt the chain of custody of highly classified documents?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Since the purpose of said flunkies was to run interference (GSA, USSS, CPB, etc.) and slow everything down I think it extremely likely that document tampering / destruction was on their task lists.

    • BrokenPromises says:

      And beyond that if the secret documents are in fact missing as in gone not there unable to be found he needs to be, after conviction for this, locked up for the duration of his mortal life. No kid gloves, no exception for his political position – no other treatment than would fall on any citizen or non-citizen that did this much crime with America’s secret intelligence. It’s not about him. It’s about the crime and the precedent about no one is above the law.

      • Adam Selene says:

        High Crimes and Misdemeanors indeed!

        I am actually shocked by this news about tfg’s carelessness. And the thought of foreign hands and eyes in possession of them is sickening^2!

      • MT Reedør says:

        I dunno about all that. A thorough search is a good necessary next step before his custody situation is discussed.

  6. Owlmirror says:

    Another thought:

    there are 46 empty CLASSIFIED document folders and 42 empty “Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide” folders.

    This makes it looks like there were 88 independently empty folders. I know nothing about sensitive document handling, but it seems at least plausible that classified documents would usually be inside of their CLASSIFIED folders, which would in turn be placed inside of a “Return to Staff” folder for conveyance to/from the President.

    Folder Matryoshka, as it were.

    • Owlmirror says:

      In fact, there could plausibly be two or more related CLASSIFIED folders nested inside one “Return to Staff Secretary” folder. Unless that’s contraindicated by policy.

  7. Mister Sterling says:

    The DOJ must indict now. Have prosecutors work all weekend if necessary. But have indictments ready next week. This unprecedented crime just went from critical to meltdown.

    Also: this provides more than enough probable cause for a full search of all of Trump’s US properties.

      • skua says:

        Maybe worse. Maybe better.
        Competent intelligence and security services would have international business people in their files.
        And once Trump became POTUS then interest in him would skyrocket. Dangers would be identified and attempts made to nuliify them. Trump’s behavior around sensitive documents would have been observed and attempts made by US and allies to reduce/avoid/address the dangers. (I think I remember reports of Trump’s misbehavior around official document from ?2018.)
        What we are seeing with the search of MAL is part of a protective/defensive process that has gone on since ?2018 or even earlier. Maybe the clean-up part.
        An indictment of Trump will say that agencies are confident that he can no longer release himself, or get others to release, sensitive national security info to enemies.

    • BrokenPromises says:

      Just for clarification; This did not just go from critical to meltdown. Nothing has changed in the evidence or reality of the crimes. It’s just that we have now learned about this. DOJ learned all this easily a couple of weeks ago as they inventoried materials.

      Also as Bobby Glad and RobertS note we may well learn of much worse in the future. We don’t know but I sure hope our FBI and intel community can get every single detail on the disposition of these critical secret documents.

      The intel community report to Congress on the risk of all this is going to be one heck of a doozy. I wonder how much will need to be redacted from public awareness.

      • Paulka says:

        Some random thoughts. It strikes me that the IC has known about the information that Trump had and the potential for the information to be compromised, for a while. At the very least they would be aware of the way Trump handled intelligence while in office. The intelligence just doesn’t sit there. This is all IC work product being relatively active or recent intelligence, from Trump’s term in office. Therefore, it follows logically, that there are people in the IC who were working on that intelligence and would be aware that documents were missing. I would have to imagine that scores of missing TS documents would be known by the IC.

        Admittedly, this is all a huge simplification, but, again, I think my logic holds, that the intelligence Trump had/has was known or at a minimum suspected to be in Trump’s possession by people in the IC. These are not dusty library books that could be overlooked but work product on active operations and analysis. I would imagine there would have been ongoing damage control throughout Trump’s tenure and after his tenure.

        So, back to the worst-case scenario and I have a strong feeling that this is the case. I believe the IC communicated to the DoJ, either informally or information that hasn’t or will never reach the light of day, that human assets were being killed, arrested, etc. and those retaliatory actions can be tied to the intelligence that had gone missing.

        Again, this is all conjecture, and not necessarily needed to justify the search of an ex-President’s house, but it certainly matches the reporting that assets were being killed, arrested, etc. But I can certainly see how MG could not ignore that type of damage to our national security. And, again, I think that is the worst-case scenario, that for whatever reason, the intelligence that Trump had/has was/is leading to our agents/assets/allies being killed, arrested etc. and our IC found smoking gun connections to Trump.

        • skua says:

          I posit that things can always be worse. Michael Cohen’s idea that DJT is actively blackmailing the USA by threatening to release important secrets if his conditions aren’t met is one way that things could be worse. DJT including a demand to be 47 yet another possible worsening.

          But I don’t think a publicly visible raid on MAL is consistent with DJT blackmailing USA.
          Which leaves me largely in agreement with your post.

  8. Marika says:

    Bradley P. Moss
    Per government source: if there is an empty folder that was originally used to properly store classified records, there will be documentation indicating who put the records in that folder, why they were placed there, and what the records were.

    • HW3 says:

      I believe the documentation of who put the doc into the folder is on the doc not the folder. I believe the folders are completely generic (possibly excepting sharpie scrawls)

      • Jeffrey Gallup says:

        The existence of empty folders with classified banners does not tell us much about whether there are missing documents.

        Classified documents are handled in different ways.

        Some classified documents will not have cover sheets (a single sheet of thick paper or thin cardboard with the classification on it) and will not originally be in a folder (like a regular manila file folder) with “classified” marked on it. These are not individually accounted for simply because of the volume. For example, someone may receive a large sheaf of 50 or 100 classified documents from the communications department in the morning. These will best be put in a “classified” folder for transport so nobody will be able to see them as they are moved around and none will be lost or misplaced. There’s not necessarily a one-to-one relationship between classified documents and folders.

        More sensitive documents will have individual cover sheets stapled to them and the sheets should not be removed. These may have a control number on the cover sheet and the document. They may also say something like copy 3 of 5. They may be carried individually or together in folders marked classified.

        Then really sensitive documents may be viewable only in a SCIF or require additional measures. For some, the document custodian will stand over you while you read it and then take it away. There may also be a classified control sheet which each reader must sign and date when the document is received and when it is returned to the custodian. If destroyed at some point, there should also be a record of that. The destruction may have to be witnessed by two people.

        Which reminds me that the White House, or now the Archives, should have good detailed records of when and which highly sensitive documents were given to the president and when (or if) they were returned. If not returned, and if they did not turn up at Mar-a-Lago, then they would be deemed missing and unaccounted for. And the official custodian as well as the recipient would be on the hot seat. The consequences for a military officer would, I suspect, be severe. I would not like to be that military aide right now.

        Anyway, this is an additional angle which I assume the Archives/FBI are pursuing.

    • Retired guy says:

      Your assessment would suggest that it may be known what physical documents are absent from secure containment. Being able to say all documents were recovered would be good, but in no way mitigates the prosecutable hazard to national security of the documents being not properly contained for over a year.

      • timbo says:

        Knowing the physical location of all missing documents would be good. But, even if you retrieve the documents, that doesn’t mean electronic copies were not made for non-governmental purposes when out of the control of USG

  9. Owlmirror says:

    One more thought, since I don’t know anything about sensitive document handling: Would the CLASSIFIED folder have a document number on it, or anything else indicating the document that is usually contained within? So unfoldered docs could easily be matched to their folders, and actual missing docs being able to be looked up from their folders?

    • gknight says:

      Assigned to a nuclear fast attack submarine approximately 50 years ago. As a Yeoman, I was cleared for Secret but never actually had control of one. Confidential documents were all logged and numbered by an officer. And they had a number affixed before we received them. I cannot imagine a lack of chain of custody. It was and likely still is a very big deal. And with lots of documentation of what is it, how it was received, when, by whom, etc. Never ever would one document go astray. Always locked away unless being only seen by certain ‘eyes only’. And that was logged in, too.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Not too many places to go on a sub at sea, but I’m sure every classified doc was inventoried probably by each watch as part of the turnover (I certainly did as a surface nuclear engineer) because once you say “I have the watch” you own all of it including any missing items.

      • Sambucus says:

        I also was a bubblehead (nuke electrician) in the mid-70s. TS clearance required in torpedo room and aft of frame 52 in the plant. (IIRC.. that is a lot of brain cells ago). But all of our notes in Nuclear Power School were certainly stamped “Confidential”

  10. Gatorbaiter says:

    Now we can understand why they subpoenaed more security video, but how could they scrutinize all the way back to January 2021 and would that data still be available?

    • Rugger9 says:

      The investigators would subpoena the recordings, but the second part is where it would be tricky. Remember this is a WH that wiped phones for J6 knowing they were relevant and indeed after being formally notified to save data. Smoking guns like these recordings (especially after the M-a-L search alerted the minions to the importance of the surveillance) will get eliminated as fast as possible since there is no longer any need to maintain appearances about being cooperative.

    • Alzero says:

      We can always count on you for insightful and informative commentary that moves the discussion forward. Thanks!

  11. Marika says:

    We know that a number of boxes from the WH were taken to Mar a Lago on Jan 20. I wonder how much he took to Mar a Lago during his four years in office. Could some of what was found in the search have been there for years unsecured? There is reporting that he took boxes of stuff from the WH with him on foreign trips, did he do the same when he went to Bedminster or Mar a Lago? Was anyone in charge of keeping track of the boxes at that time? I assume those people have been or are being identified and questioned.

    • vicks says:

      I would think Trump would wait until he left office to steal originals.
      Over the years some brave souls must have demanded documents be returned, and being able to grab what they were looking for out of a closet or desk drawer would have protected Trump’s long game,
      But what do I know?

      • Yorkvilel Kangaroo says:

        Certainly none of his lackeys would have. Bolton even said that Trump would ask if he could keep certain things and would be told, “We’d rather you didn’t.” But Bolton then said that sometimes they would “forget” to ask for them back.

        Sounds like the National Security Advisor didn’t think it was his place to tell his boss to give SECURITY stuff back so why would anyone else?

  12. sixfoorfourman says:

    Even if he only took them for vanity reasons, which I doubt, he’s ruined years of work and wasted untold millions of dollars. The IC must assume that every source is now burned, because they just don’t know who has seen these documents.

    • Bobster33 says:

      Michael Cohen has talked about how Trump likely took the documents to insure his freedom and money making ability after he left office. Cohen said that Trump would threaten to release the documents in exchange for some sort of non-prosecuting agreement.

      In order for Trump’s threat to be valid, Trump would have had to have made/sent copies to “trusted” friends and subservient underlings. That list would likely have the names of Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.

      I suspect that the DNI has already made this determination and is acting accordingly.

      • Rayne says:

        The massive orange cockwomble ought to be signaling a plea deal already. Enough people have noted the sentences others have received for mishandling or theft of classified materials including Marcy for it to have gotten around he’s looking at serious time.

        Or perhaps that’s why he made the threat yesterday dangling pardons for insurrectionists — he’s not planning on going without a fight.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          He does seem to be using the Truth Social forum to try out promises/threats, with an eye toward seeing which if any stick in the public discourse. I’m hearing the “Trump’s going off the rails” refrain, but he’s never been on the rails. He’s still gaming the system, and the system continues to struggle with resisting.

        • Rayne says:

          He’d better use it while he can if he hasn’t paid the bill yet. LOL He’s admitting to so much criming every other message he shares on TS we ought to think about crowdfunding it since it seems to be the once place he spills truth.

        • Bobster33 says:

          Trump knows he makes good TV. He can go on Wayne’s World or any other public access type program and the main stream news will HAVE to cover it. The brilliance in his madness is that he can pick the reporter to steam roll knowing full well tomorrow the media will cover what he said.

  13. The Baffled King says:

    Well, the Detailed Property Inventory is certainly damning, but it might well look even more damning than it actually is – which represents masterful work by DOJ, in my opinion.

    (1) Re. Empty Folders with “CLASSIFIED” Banners:

    A natural assumption is that the documents formerly contained within these folders are missing, but it’s possible that they were either (a) left at the White House; (b) returned to NARA in Jan 2022; (c) recovered pursuant to the subpoena in June 2022; (d) recovered from a different box pursuant to the search warrant; or (e) recovered from the same location pursuant to the search warrant (in other words, the documents were stored together with, but not within, their accompanying folder).

    (2) Re. Empty Folders Labeled “Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide”:

    All of the above applies equally to these empty folders, and there is the added kick that the public now knows that the very text of the folders themselves were telling Trump that he should not be absconding with the documents therein.

    (3) Re. US Government Documents/Photographs:

    The decision not to distinguish between documents and photographs blurs the worst-case scenarios (the entries primarily refer to documents containing unmarked classified information and/or information that has been, or which should be, classified after the fact) with the best-case scenario (the entries primarily refer to photos of the Trumps’ official government-related activities, kept for reasons of vanity). For example, “640 US Government Documents/Photographs without Classification Markings” reads far worse than “Binder of Photos” (which is how Item #6 was labelled on the original Receipt for Property)! I think that one of the Trumps or their lawyers did complain about the FBI removing what the Trumps described as “personal photos”.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      The White House has an official photographer, so it’s at least possible that a good number of these photos – those without any classification markings – were printed out for him by the office of the photographer, and they memorialize meets-n-greets with various dignitaries.

      • Geoguy says:

        I’d bet you are right. As an aside, Trump also scammed the White House photographer. See this article in the Guardian on 3/31/22: “Trump swooped in to profit from White House photographer’s book deal – report”

    • PeterS says:

       “it might well look even more damning than it actually is – which represents masterful work by DOJ, in my opinion”.

      Not in my opinion. What if the DOJ was investigating a friend of yours.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Of your options under #1, only (e) holds water. That, or the possibility that some of the retrieved documents were originally in those folders. Think about it: who would bother to pack up and abscond with cover folders while leaving the documents behind? Or keep the folders while returning the documents? Nope. We can hope that the folders belonged to some of the loose documents that were recovered. But the main alternative is that those documents were removed and either destroyed or taken elsewhere. Which suggests they were either used for some purpose (e.g., traded for influence) or destroyed in order to obstruct future inquiries. I would not want to be a CIA informant in Russia or Arabia these days.

      Regarding those that may have been destroyed: Would it even be possible for investigators to identify and determine the nature of documents that had been destroyed? Sounds like the Augean stables. And even if so, how could one establish the identity of the thief beyond reasonable doubt? Some of the former president’s wrongdoing may never be provable at that level.

      • BrokenPromises says:

        While proof of crimes concealed by destroying confidential documents may never happen it seems to me that the disappearance of those documents under his watch is actionable as a crime and that upon conviction a lifetime or equivalent sentence is just punishment. Punishment is meted out to include deterrence of future crime(s).
        i.DJ/T. needs to be held accountable as the Captain of a US Naval vessel would – 100% responsible for what happens with his ship even if the bad act is committed by a subordinate. The key fact is that all the evidence is in the possession of i.DJ.T.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Not a lawyer, but I think I’ve read in a trustworthy place (maybe one of the moderators here, actually) that there is no civilian parallel to dereliction of duty. Yes, a military officer can be cashiered for failure to do what they ought, but elected officials aren’t held to that as a legal standard. There may be important classified documents that were allowed to slip away under this man’s watch and/or destroyed by him and/or handed off to our nation’s adversaries in exchange for favors. Not knowing which ones, the only recourse may be obstruction of justice charges – and prosecution for mishandling the documents law enforcement is able to recover. Or impeachment and conviction, of course, but we know the Senate won’t vote to convict this guy even if he just sent an armed mob to sack the Capitol.

        • timbo says:

          I may be misremembering how this works but I think the 2/3rds majority requirement only extends to President and VP, not to other federal officials. Other federal officers/officials may be removed from office on a simple majority vote by the Senate. If so, that’s something for folk like Supreme Court Justices and other possible Article III scofflaws to bear in mind if the want to obstruct the Congress or MG’s DOJ…

        • MB says:

          I think it’s 2/3 across the board. The most recent impeachment and conviction of a federal judge, Thomas Porteous of Louisiana, took place in 2010.

          Porteous, who was defended at his impeachment trial by none other than Jonathan Turley (!), was convicted on all 4 Articles of Impeachment brought against him: 96-0 on Article I, 69-27 on Article II, 88-8 on Article III and 90-6 on Article IV.

        • timbo says:

          Yes, I was just reading up on this. It’s across the board. A majority in the House to refer charges to the Senate, 2/3rds majority in the Senate to sustain a referred charge and remove the officer.

      • Vancouver Islander says:

        Ravenclaw referenced the Augean Stables. Yes, and the Palace of Versailles in the period leading to the collapse of the L’Ancien Régime.

  14. PeterS says:

    The descriptor “documents/photographs” seems kinda lazy; there’s usually a clear difference. Though it does serve to obfuscate what’s in item 1.

    • Peterr says:

      I think it is the opposite – a more specific description of what was found. That is, I read these to be documents that have photographs embedded within them. For instance,

      “Here is a photo of a an area in central North Korea from 6 months ago, . . . and here is a photo taken three days ago showing lots of new construction. . . . Notice the apparent missile silos in the upper left of the recent picture, and the efforts to finish installing camouflage around a road leading into the side of the hill, as seen in this closer view . . . If the NKs follow their usual procedures, we expect to see missile trucks coming up that road in about two weeks, as seen in this photo of an older missile location . . .”

      You’ve got a lot of classified text, with similarly classified images to illustrate/prove what the text is claiming. Given what we’ve heard about Trump and his briefings, having whiz-bang pictures would keep him interested and engaged, while text alone might not.

      • PeterS says:

        I’m not sure. I think all the “documents” have markings. “Documents/photographs” are unmarked. In item 13 there are 708 documents/photographs, all documents with embedded photos?

      • The Baffled King says:

        I disagree. I think that one should assume that the “US Government Documents/Photographs without Classification Markings” can each be a document with embedded photos, a document without embedded photos, or a photo. I say this on the basis that DOJ appeared to use the term as a catch-all description for all seized items that are not either (a) a document with classified markings; (b) an empty folder; (c) non-government printed media; or (d) miscellaneous other personal possessions.

        Your interpretation would require the FBI to have seized over 11,000 government documents with embedded photos, but not a single government document without any embedded photos, which seems highly unlikely. In any case, the initial Receipt For Property shows that photos were seized; items 5 and 6 were initially “Binder of Photos”, but on the subsequent Detailed Property Inventory they become “US Government Documents/Photographs without Classification Markings”.

        • The Baffled King says:

          Qualifier to the above: the 396 instances of US Government Documents/Photographs without Classification Markings listed as Item #5 and the 640 instances listed as Item #6 are surely photos, while Item #7 (described in the Receipt For Property as a “handwritten note”) is a surely a single document without embedded photos.

          The jury is out on the remaining 10,000+ instances of US Government Documents/Photographs without Classification Markings…

  15. viget says:

    Not that I’m an expert, but isn’t it possible the SECRET document mentioned in item 1 is an intelligence doc about Macron, rather than the pardon itself? It may have been attached to the pardon and possible photos. Meaning the pardon fell under the unclassified rubric.

    It seems like Trump mixed in the classified documents with news clippings, almost as if they were supporting documentation for the news story, or contained more details about the story or the person(s) mentioned in the story. Kind of an index of sorts…

    • Ravenclaw says:

      I’ve read that it’s common for white-collar criminals to intersperse high-value incriminating documents with news clippings and the like, because the appearance of a box full of old magazines discourages further searching. Not sure about that, but it resembles the old practice of slipping the sheet of blotter acid between the pages of one of the hundreds of science fiction paperbacks in the bookcase.

      • vicks says:

        If I was working on a plan to smuggle highly classified documents out of the White House, I think hiding them in messy “cartons” of memorabilia and having unknowing coffee boys & girls carry them out to van would check all of MY boxes.

        • Rayne says:

          It certainly looks like a pattern — there are too few boxes which don’t have one or more of magazine/press clippings/printed material, clothing/gift items, or books in them to not be an effort to hide government records.

          Why wouldn’t someone pack all the magazine/press clippings/printed materials in the same box/es? Same for clothing/gifts and for books. Why would a guy who is so sensitive about the appearance of messiness of papers on the floor not insist on materials being packed so that they weren’t messy on arrival?

          Unless the mess was strategic and key to the contents being transported and stored.

          Imagine, too, hiding critical contents in a way which allows one to engage the help of others but without tipping them off: “Juan, get me the box from the storage room with the Peter Navarro book on top.”

        • timbo says:

          Chronological or topical subject order are two reasonable explanations of how some of these boxes were organized.

        • Rayne says:

          Either is possible with chrono more likely given the press clippings but there’s a uniformity which seems forced.

        • bg says:

          My thought is that TFG was churning through boxes looking for things he could put to some use, he has no capacity for organizing or keeping files/boxes organized because he has never done it, he found things he wanted, then just threw things into boxes randomly as he was under some duress to keep a low profile doing the digging around in the boxes and perhaps was under a time constraint. Thus all the junk just thrown into boxes, files removed from folders, etc. Anyone else would have tried to keep things in some kind of order, to cover their tracks and make sure it did not look “disturbed.”

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        I’m hoping the FBI has searched the framed Time covers.
        I suspect Trump is too lazy to actually hide documents that way (and he sure didn’t anticipate needing it) but it’s melodramatic enough for him to use a way to transfer documents to a recipient, à la The Maltese Falcon.

  16. Peter Braccio says:

    I would think that the Secret document in Item 1 is the Macron information and the unclassified government document is the Stone clemency.

  17. WilliamOckham says:

    The five boxes from the storage room that triggered a privilege review (items 29-33) are interesting. Unless they’re lumping letters from attorneys as “Other Printed Media”, the potentially privileged items are government documents.

    • emptywheel says:

      It’s not 100% clear they inventoried non-govt docs. The passports don’t show up, for example.

      Though this could be after passport return.

      • Peterr says:

        I get what you are saying, but passports most certainly *are* government documents. They are given to people who apply for them, and my current passport carries the following notice:


        US GOVERNMENT PROPERTY This passport is the property of the United States (Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 51.9). It must be surrendered upon demand made by an authorized representative of the United States Government.

        They are a different kind of government document from, say, a highly classified CIA report or a memo to or from the President. Trump’s possession of an ordinary passport would not be the kind of thing that the government would complain about, but I am surprised that his diplomatic passport was not demanded on January 20, 2021 as he left office. Perhaps State has a policy that allows former presidents to retain them as a courtesy, to facilitate informal travel that a former president might undertake to support the current administration in some manner. Barring that, he should have turned in the diplomatic passport.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As with continuing to provide a former president the PDB, a former president usually retains his diplomatic passport. Until Trump, current presidents sometimes relied on the expertise of former ones, and his foreign travel would often fall within a gray area between official and unofficial.

          But, given Trump’s purported international businesses and his routine abuse of so much, his diplomatic passport should have been invalidated, just as his access to the PDB was terminated.

        • Gerard Plourde says:

          It may be that the diplomatic passport has a future expiration date but may have already been voided. Its return may not have been requested since, to my knowledge he hasn’t traveled internationally since leaving office. (I could be wrong about the last statement. If he has traveled internationally, feel free to correct.)

  18. QuadrantFive says:

    Looking over the inventory list, I don’t see anything specifically listed as being found in the safe. I assume that if anything was seized from the safe that it’s just listed as being from the office. It would be very interesting to know what was separated and put in the safe.

    My guess? Photocopies of the classified documents. Likely including unfoldered documents.

      • paulpfixion says:

        It seems insane to me that they wouldn’t have just scanned the docs and then returned the originals in the summer when demanded by the FBI–do the docs lose value to Trump in their non-original form? Why save empty folders marked “Classified?” Pure and absolute hubris?

        • QuadrantFive says:

          I don’t think it was straight up hubris, at least at first (although I think all Trump knows/does is tainted with hubris). I’m thinking that he took the classified documents/material for either monetary gain or blackmail (probably both). Then when he was made aware that others knew he took it, he couldn’t think of what to do with it. He is such an egomaniac that he didn’t want it known that he had taken very sensitive info, which would be admitted if returned. He then decided to keep some of the material and simply came up with the goofy argument that it was his.

          The actions of Trump on this issue only get complicated because of the cover up. Otherwise it’s cut and dry (take the docs for $ or leverage). I think that Trump is a constant (and rather creative) schemer. He’s just not great at the operational aspects of the scheme to cover his tracks. But his litigious nature and lots of cash have kept him out of too much trouble, at least up to now.

  19. Paulka says:

    Fwiw there appears to be 26 documents marked ts etc in the office where the 88 folders/ envelopes were found

    Take that for what it’s worth

    • P J Evans says:

      Maybe future searches of those. (I think I’d want simultaneous searches of his Tower place and Bedminster.)

    • John Paul Jones says:

      What helped enable the MAL search was not just NARA saying, “Hey, we have some missing documents,” but also witness testimony as to what was happening with boxes moved in and out of storage. It would be nice to search other Trump properties, but each search would likely require witness testimony as to particular documents and locations.

    • timbo says:

      They had some sort of testimony from folks involved that the documents were specifically at this residence. I would say that after this latest raid, they might be able to easily get warrants for other residences.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Presumably there’s a difference between a document classified by the USG at the level of “Secret,” and a presidential record Trump did not want disclosed until some later, post-presidential date.

      If Trump granted Stone a pardon while president, but did not disclose or deliver it, Stone could only use it by gaining possession of it, an apron string he would hate, but that the vindictive Trump might love. (Even then, its enforcement would be problematic.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If Trump retained an original Stone pardon, it would, at a minimum, violate the PRA. It’s not Trump’s document: it would be a gubmint and presidential record. If he hid it, denied he had it, defaced or destroyed it, etc., he would have violated other statutes.

        • Drew says:

          I’m actually asking based on this line from the post:
          And one of the most notable details about the inventory (aside from the fact that the Roger Stone pardon is classified Secret)

          i.e. Originally in the first released & unredacted receipt, DoJ identifies it using Stone’s name, and now (apparently) they call it Secret. Seems kind of upside down to me, if that’s what they did.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Well, we don’t know if it’s a pardon, something related to one for Stone or someone within Stone’s ambit, or something completely different. We’re not likely to learn why whatever it is is classified, “Secret.”

  20. joberly says:

    About that Stone pardon… the preliminary inventory unsealed on Aug 11 listed Item # 1 as “Executive Grant of Clemency for: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.” and Item # 1A as “Info re: President of France.” The detailed inventory unsealed today lists only Item # 1 but no #1A. Instead, the detailed inventory lists an Item # 1-1 as “US Government Document with SECRET Classification Markings” and an Item # 1-2” as US Government Documents/Photographs Without Classification Markings.” It could be, as you say, EW, that the Stone pardon papers are what the detailed inventory calls Item #1-1 but it also could be that the “President of France” is # 1-1 with the Stone pardon papers as Item #1-2, that is, unclassified US documents/photographs.

  21. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    I read that the empty classified folders should have control numbers. Also, Bradley Moss quoted a government source when he said there will be documentation indicating who put the records in the folder, why they were place there, and what the records were. He also pointed out that the folder itself is not classified.

  22. Rugger9 says:

    I’m not so sure they aren’t linked from the description. I noted in another EW post that any pocket pardon would be essentially useless and it made no sense to keep any info regarding an issued pardon (even as future leverage) since there is no appeal when a pardon is done by POTUS in accordance with the procedure. The corrupt intent exception has not been tested, but it may be possible that the Stone pardon is related to one of the impeachment rounds since that is a Constitutionally identified exception to the pardon power. While that would explain why a second Stone pardon wasn’t issued in January 2021 (Impeachment 2 followed the transfer of power to Biden), I don’t think TFG cared about any restrictions at that point, especially after J6, and would have issued the pardon and dared Congress to stop him. After the transfer of power Individual-1 couldn’t pardon anyone.

    That and Macron’s peccadillos would have been all over France from their version of the RWNM, if they existed or could be made up. It’s not like the press overseas holds anything back about political adversaries. Speculating, maybe this pardon play is about an aborted attempt in rat fornication by Stone that exposed Stone to criminal liability.

    • The Baffled King says:

      I disagree that a pocket pardon is necessarily useless. It would fail its intended purpose if DOJ successfully argue that the pardon does not sufficiently cover the conduct charged (a drafting failure, in other words), or that it was issued after Trump’s presidency ended. There is also some precedent for a pardon to be invalid if it isn’t delivered to the recipient. So, it seems that a pocket pardon can be valid, but its validity would depend on how the process was handled and documented.

      • Rayne says:

        Cite precedent to justify your position. There’s nothing in the Constitution to support a grant of clemency ex post facto; if Trump didn’t formally document the grant just as he didn’t formally document claimed declassifications, it didn’t happen.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          There is likely no precedent to cite. No president has mishandled pardons – let alone the entire work of the presidency – the way Trump has.

          Presidents issued or refused to issue pardons, in the manner of Bush II and Libby, or they commuted a sentence instead of issuing a pardon, to maintain a Fifth amendment defense, for example. I’m pretty sure none of them has signed a valid pardon and kept it secret while in office. And more sure that none of them left office with it in their vest pocket.

          The latter is a like Dr. Strangelove’s doomsday machine. “The whole point of it is lost, if you keep it a secret. Why didn’t you tell the world?”

        • Rayne says:

          He must have been holding over Stone as leverage, IOW, “Get me in the White House and I’ll make sure that problem which is sure to come up will go away.” Whatever it is in the text of the grant must be sensitive.

          Have to wonder if there was an investigation into Stone we haven’t known about though Trump did — or if Trump told Stone he had launched one/would order one unless Stone delivered the White House.

          As much of a mob boss as he’s been, I could believe he’d do this crap.

        • The Baffled King says:

          I assume we both know that there’s no precedent for the grant of a pocket pardon, let alone a judicial decision on its legality. However, while the existence of contrary precedent will generally invalidate a position, the same cannot be said for an absence of supporting precedent.

          Pocket pardons have been discussed since Watergate, and I’ve read opinions on the concept by legal professionals that range from “valid”, to “arguably valid”, to “invalid”. I consider that sufficient to offer a contrary opinion when a commenter says “any pocket pardon would be essentially useless”.

          Granted, it would have been better had my final sentence read “While the validity of pocket pardons as a concept is untested, I believe it is valid, but any given pocket pardon might be deemed invalid if the process was not handled and documented appropriately.”.

          Several administrative and judicial precedents for a pardon not being valid until delivery to the pardoned individual are referenced here:

          Given these precedents, if the Roger Stone pardon seized by the FBI is a pocket pardon, the fact that it was stored at Trump’s property rather than at Stone’s property creates a further evidential hurdle to jump before a court would accept it as valid.

          Anyway, can you cite precedent to justify your position? And what even is your position? Tossing “ex post facto”, “formally document the grant”, and “it didn’t happen” into a sentence hints at three separate arguments without explicitly alighting on any.

        • Rayne says:

          The Constitution itself provides no allowance for a “pocket pardon” (Article II Sect. 2). The executive’s pardon power may be plenary, but unless the executive can prove he granted a pardon during his term in a manner consistent with past grants, any document purporting to grant clemency which is not formally recorded during that executive’s term
          — is an attempt to wield executive powers after the fact because it doesn’t have the affirmative consent of the current executive;
          — undermines the authority of the current executive, ex. the Logan Act recognizes there is only one executive at a time who has the power to make treaties (both the power to pardon and make treaties are outlined in Article II Sect. 2 of the Constitution);
          — “didn’t happen” because the award was not made in a way which the grantee recognized and accepted since acceptance may confer obligations or loss of rights under the Fifth Amendment (Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915)).

          Which leads us to the most important reason a pocket pardon in Trump’s stolen paperwork isn’t viable: if he and Stone negotiated a “hanging” or “suspended” pardon to be granted only after Stone had been asked to testify which might require Stone to plead the Fifth to protect his or Trump’s interests, the lack of documentation of the grant is a corrupt act itself even if the pardon power is plenary. In short, there would be a conspiracy to defraud the US and a denial of Honest Services to the US. The act of pocketing a pardon in this case would be corrupt; ideally the current executive should exercise their plenary pardon power to reverse any attempted pocket pardon and insist instead on a documented application for clemency during this term.

        • The Baffled King says:

          Okay. I fail to see the relevance of the Logan Act or the “affirmative consent of the current executive”. It seems that we disagree on (1) the evidence necessary to prove when a pardon was granted; and (2) the minimum administrative standards required for a pardon to be valid.

          You appear to claim that if a pardon is “not formally recorded during that executive’s term” in the normal way, that will be dispositive of point (1). I disagree. A failure to record a pardon in the normal way is evidentially relevant, but the court will hear other evidence, and I see no reason why a ruling regarding the date of the grant will turn on anything other than consideration of the facts.

          As for point (2), the Constitution indeed “provides no allowance” for a pocket pardon, but nor does it preclude them, and it is silent on the procedural requirements necessary for a pardon to be valid. I suspect that the courts might recognise minimum procedural requirements for a constitutionally valid pardon, but I won’t speculate on exactly what those might be.

          I will however say that the court is highly unlikely to rule that a pardon is invalid simply because the procedure by which it was issued is not “consistent with past grants”. Administrative precedent is often indicative of good governance, not the outer limits of constitutional or statutory law.

          As for your final paragraph, you are making assumptions about the law, the facts, and the facts that DOJ will be able to support with sufficient admissible evidence, and you rely on these assumptions to support your claim that a pocket pardon isn’t viable. I don’t intend to engage with that, other than to say that neither granting nor accepting a pocket pardon are inherently criminal acts.

        • Rayne says:

          In re Logan Act — both making treaties and granting pardons are parallel powers in that they are reserved to the executive. Congress recognized through the Logan Act there is only one executive at a time; Trump couldn’t negotiate in secret before Inauguration Day 2021 and pull a “pocket treaty” out of thin air now and insist Congress advise and consent after the fact because Trump is no longer the executive. Imagine he had done that with Russia and then produced a secret treaty on February 25 this year.

          Clemency likewise can only be granted by the current executive. Clemency may not require the advice and consent of the Senate but conditions could have substantively changed after Inauguration Day. Only the current executive can weigh the necessity of a grant now.

          You’ll also note the US has been through the exercise of who the executive is and the recognition of their executive privilege with the waiver granted by Biden of any claim by the executive office on presidential records to be released by NARA to the House January 6 Committee. Trump has already taken this to the Supreme Court and lost because he does not have executive privilege any longer.

          Trump, in hanging onto a clemency document — which may or may not be signed — was in possession of a stolen presidential record, one which wasn’t fully executed because it had not been granted to Stone and accepted. The Supreme Court would likely not recognize Trump’s claim of a “pocket pardon” since it hasn’t recognized Trump’s claims on other presidential records.

          You Britons might be all cozy with confusion arising from conflicting claimants to monarchical powers, resulting civil wars, secretive works of star chambers, but these colonists left that behind nearly 250 years ago.

  23. Saul Tannenbaum says:

    I’m really curious what books he had stashed away, mostly because I expect the answer to be funny.

    • Tom-1812 says:

      I’m curious about the books, too, and counted thirty-three of them. All different titles or multiple copies of some titles? I suspect they’re all or mainly copies of the books Woodward, Wolff, Leonnig, Rucker, etc wrote about the Trump administration. I wonder if they contain Trump’s marginal notes and comments. Also wonder if he planned to pilfer their general outline and contents as a guide to churning out his own memoir/diatribe about his time in office.

      It’s a good thing there was a Custodian of Records taking care of all this.

      • BobCon says:

        He may have been an anonymous source for some of them, or else told someone like Miller to be a source on his behalf.

        He may have been checking up to see how faithfully authors were using his framework and talking points.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        From snopes:
        “Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.” (“I did give him a book about Hitler,” Marty Davis said. “But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”)

  24. Owlmirror says:

    (I need to proof the numbers; my missing Secret document happened to be Roger Stone!)

    There’s something wonky going on, but I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done about it.

    On the warrant, it looks like there are two items listed for the first listing: 1 and 1A, the pardon for Stone, and the info on the President of France. Nothing is indicated as having classification markings.

    On the detailed list, though, there a three items listed: one with SECRET classification, and two unclassified.

    Either the FBI team sloppily failed to record the SECRET document, less sloppily missed the SECRET document at first (could it have been paper-clipped or stapled after one of the unclassified documents?), or part of one of the documents was classified as being SECRET, ex post facto, by the filter team.

    Or there’s something else I’m missing.

    I’m not sure it can be concluded where the Stone pardon falls.

    Edit: Modify last line, and note that others have, again, already gotten there first with noting the discrepancy. Oh, well.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Everyone knows how much Trump likes to read. He doesn’t. He seems to find it threatening, perhaps because it reminds him of his ignorance and incompetence. The exception is when he can embarrass someone else or make money from it.

    To state the obvious, Trump didn’t take dozens of empty folders with him from the White House. They weren’t packed by mistake, or in a hurry, or for any of the other propaganda excuses Trumpists will trot out. The folders would have been full or he wouldn’t have taken them, unless it were to hide that he took them while president (which he thinks would make it OK).

    It’s bad for Trump, then, that the folders themselves, as well as what was in them, are probably tracked. That would enable the government to determine what should have been in the folders, who put it there, who had it last before TFG, and who should have it now. The latter would not include Donald J. Trump. At a minimum, the empty folders provide more evidence that Mr. Trump failed to properly store and control access to classified documents, making the DoJ’s job easier.

    Donald being Donald, he’ll never invent legally sufficient answers for all this. He would deeply resent having to come up with any. “Shit happens,” is the best he’ll offer. And that should scare the pants off Republicans, too.

    • MB says:

      Nicolle Wallace interviewed Sue Gordon, deputy director of DNI through 2019, about Trump’s relationship to intelligence information in general yesterday.

      Her response: he definitely was an “interested consumer” of intelligence data, but had absolutely no understanding or interest in the tradecraft involved in collecting and disseminating it. She wrote an editorial around Biden’s inauguration date recommending an exception to providing PDBs to ex-presidents, which advice Biden followed.

      Short version: Trump was very interested in the “what” of intelligence but had zero interest for the “why”

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Which is EXACTLY what the ‘bad guys’ WOULD be interested in. The Donald wouldn’t have even twigged when Putin asked him, “How is it you know so many important things Mr. President? You must have very good investigators no? I can see why they say you are most powerful man in world!”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Given the pace and the resources NARA, the FBI, and the DoJ have devoted to this issue, and properly so, they almost certainly know by now whether both the folders and their contents were recovered from MAL, just not properly interleaved, and whether and what contents are missing.

      That might prompt a search among Trump’s other properties, for which the FBI would need probable cause. Other options include whether Trump destroyed them, hoping that would be the end of it, and whether they are in the wild, the possibility most dangerous to American national security. None of those options are good for Trump.

      • Cosmo Le Cat says:

        Q: Would knowing that Trump had unaccounted for documents be sufficient probable cause to get a warrant?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It would not be sufficient. You would need to have reasonably reliable information about where he kept them.

        • Riktol says:

          Not a lawyer, but if it doesn’t justify a search, it does sound like a reason to interview Trump, as well as Kash Patel and John Solomon. Could it justify a search of their emails and texts?
          On top of that they ought to be interviewing anyone involved in the initial movement of documents, and everyone who has visited or been employed at Mar-a-Largo since Dec 2020.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          No. And, yes, the FBI should already have identified and interviewed those involved in packing and moving the documents.

      • Rugger9 says:

        If Individual-1 destroyed or sent away the docs, why not destroy the tracking folders too? That way he’d be able to shrug his shoulders and blame the Deep State for a witch hunt.

        It would I think be enough for a warrant but IANAL.

        • timbo says:

          Because physical proof that a document was from a USG original is worth a lot more than an electronic facsimile when it comes to calculating the chance the information in a document is true or worth pursuing. That is, someone would have to go to a lot more trouble to create fake originals on USG issue paper than just creating or manipulating a digital image to make it appear to be authentic. That doesn’t mean that better foreign agencies wouldn’t remain skeptical until they had good verification that the information in a stolen document was reliable information, it just means that anyone interested in this secret information would be much more confident that the information was from a legitimate USG source from the get-go. Thus, possessing a real TS/SCI document is worth more than just a facsimile made from one later. Tracking folders add to the perceived bona fides, and empties could be used to demonstrate that one had a lot more info to sell to interested parties, without revealing which secrets one possessed, etc.

        • timbo says:

          Sorry. Spec paper. I don’t know per se what the requirements for particular different types of documentation is in various agencies of the federal government per se. However, it’s not hard to imagine that certain types of contained information have to be/presented on specified types of paper stock. This might also be true for covers and folders, etc as well. The same may be true for the inks used too.

      • earthworm says:

        earlofhuntingdon says:
        September 2, 2022 at 1:39 pm
        If evidence indicates there are more “papers in the wild,” why wouldn’t former president trump have his minions destroying them, even as we ponder?
        they might’ve been copied, of course, but destruction if evidence does not seem to faze trump.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I was listing possibilities that might explain the empty folders and their apparently missing contents. Two of them were that Trump might have destroyed them, and that they might be, “in the wild.” That is, that they or their contents might be in the possession of unknown unauthorized people, which would be the most potentially harmful.

        • bidrec says:

          An acquaintance worked at a bank shredding documents. He was a contractor, not an employee. He said he thought that the bank did this because it would have been illegal for a bank officer to destroy these documents.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          They did it because it was cheaper to have a contractor do it.

          Banks and other businesses destroy documents by the truck load for perfectly legitimate reasons. Everything that is created in business does not need to be retained.

          Presidential Records, however, do.

          People have to stop drinking the Q Anon Kool-Aid.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Destruction of evidence might not faze Trump, but destruction of merchandise is another matter! The reason Trump wants the evidence back is because the evidence and the merchandise are one and the same.

        • timbo says:

          Think Navarro here as well. I’m still thinking that he’s destroyed some of the government records he’s under suit and subpoena to turn over/return to the government.

          It’s also possible that some of the documents supposedly at or lost from MAL are or were taken by Navarro at some point. There’s no direct evidence for that publicly htat I know of but it’s definitely a possibility in this whirligig of a scandal.

    • Bobster33 says:

      My hallucination is that Trump is slightly dyslexic. That dyslexia translated into Trump developing and relying on his ability to judge people.

      Years ago there was a study on Fortune 500 executives which found a large number of them had some form of dyslexia. The study authors speculated that the reading limitations caused the executives to develop other skill sets like reading people.

      • bidrec says:

        In the Navy this has been observed of “goats” where a goat is the Annapolis grad with the lowest GPA in his class.

      • posaune says:

        I’ve always wondered if DJT was bearing the effects of FASD — a number of features of his cognitive function seem to fall into those signs or symptoms.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          If you listen to Trump from a clip 25 years ago, he sounds like a reasonable adult. He had a touch of self-deprecation and could be funny.

          Now, he sounds like a 10-year-old making excuses that his parents see right through. He thinks saying “I declassified this” will fix everything. That’s the way little kids think.

          His mind has slipped. He may have had genetic/environmental problems, but his mind has really been affected by the passage of time.

    • The Baffled King says:

      “To state the obvious, Trump didn’t take dozens of empty folders with him from the White House. They weren’t packed by mistake, or in a hurry, or for any of the other propaganda excuses Trumpists will trot out.”

      Objection! Trump likely did pack in a hurry, because he was apparently planning a coup in order to remain in office (meaning he wasn’t planning to pack), and because, later in January, to pack was to acknowledge that he was due to lose the presidency, which was damaging to his narcissistic ego.

      Moreover, it’s possible that the empty folders were packed by mistake, because Trump was reportedly so secretive about his packing that he did much of it himself; accordingly, given that Trump is notoriously lazy, he could well have just grabbed large stacks of material and dumped them in boxes. This alleged secrecy, combined with a lazy man expending effort instead of instructing subordinates, is evidence of guilt in relation to absconding with classified material.

      So, I think there are plausible explanations for Trump to have taken dozens of empty folders with him that are not only non-Trumpist, but which help implicate him in criminal activity! It’s also plausible that documents were unfoldered at Mar-a-Lago for nefarious purposes, but I can’t understand why the folders remained empty. If the documents were copied, why not return them to their folders? And if the documents were sold, why not destroy the folders? Any ideas?

      • Rayne says:

        Hah. No. There are no plausible explanations for a man who must have been coached frequently for more than 4 years that classified information was handled a particular way, who must have butted heads on the regular with military guys he kept on his team who knew how to handle classified material.

        There are no plausible excuses for *empty* folders because they would have been handed off to him intact to begin with.

        There are no plausible excuses for the speed with which he might have had to pack because his GSA appointee deliberately dragged her feet releasing funding for the transition because that’s what her boss wanted or he would have called and asked for her to release it sooner when the SHTF in the media about Emily Murphy’s intransigence.

        There are no plausible excuses for the way in which the 45th POTUS handled documents during his last month in office because he and his co-conspirator Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ensured there was no formal replacement even in an acting role for White House Staff Secretary and Counselor to the President Derek Lyons whose last day was the same day as the crazy-pants-lots-of-yelling meeting about the insurrection December 18, 2020.

        A near-plausible reason for the empty folders is that Trump planned to use the folders as placeholders, to indicate he’d had material at one point in time. Like a goddamned bookmark indicating documents were out for processing or for sale/had been sold. And we’re still talking about multiple crimes in varying degrees of badness.

        • timbo says:

          There’s certainly a jagged line between excuse and reason here for why and how these USG controlled document folders came to be empty in whatever box or other venue they were discovered by the FBI during their search in early August of Mar-a-Lago.

        • quickbread says:

          It’s possible that US government classified folders could be valuable on their own, too. Is there a market for counterfeit US intel?

        • Rayne says:

          Ugh, yes. I didn’t want to open that can of worms but yes. The only thing which makes me think this wasn’t a primary consideration is the scattered location of the folders though the one cluster suggests it’s possible.

          Which should then make us wonder how many folders empty or full are missing.

        • The Baffled King says:

          Huh? You are not distinguishing between an explanation and an excuse, or between what is plausible and what is justified. I’ll respond to each paragraph of your post in order:

          (1) I did not excuse, justify, or even explain any lack of knowledge on Trump’s part of how to correctly handle classified information; to the contrary, I said his reported behaviour in packing was “evidence of guilt in relation to absconding with classified material” – and that constitutes an implicit acknowledgement that Trump was aware of how to properly handle classified material!

          (2) I did not excuse or justify Trump’s possession of empty folders (or suggest they were empty when received).

          (3) I did not excuse or justify the fact that Trump might have been in a position where he had to pack at speed; to the contrary, I blamed it primarily on his coup, and also on his narcissism after the coup failed. While transition funding was released late in November 2020, coup planning continued into January 2021, so the factors I cited are more likely to have delayed packing.

          (4) I did not excuse or justify Trump’s document-handling practices. I’m unsure why you mention the absence of a staff secretary, and the crazy meeting seems irrelevant to the documents. The absence of a staff secretary may well have made it easier for Trump to execute and conceal his theft of classified documents but, given the coup attempt, I don’t see it as evidence of preplanning the theft.

          (5) There is some logic to explaining the empty folders as “indicating documents were out for processing”, provided that they were due to return. Thanks for that. However, if they were sold, retaining the folders seems to be strong evidence of guilt with almost literally no upside.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          I disagree with your first statement that, “There are no plausible explanations for a man who must have been coached frequently for more than 4 years that classified information was handled a particular way…”

          Of course there’s a plausible reason for this and we all know what this is. The Donald doesn’t follow rules. It’s a given.

      • Critter7 says:

        Some explanation for empty folders could be as simple as slovenly document handling: Trump pulls the document in the folder out of the box, removes it from the folder and throws the folder back in the box. Then reads of scans or whatever he does with the doc, and then the doc is not re-united with the folder. And the disorganized boxes piled up at the White House, and then were thrown into the moving truck when the time came.

        I’m don’t know what actually happened, of course, but that could be an explanation for how empty folders ended up in the boxes at the White House and then were moved to Mar-a-lago.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          As someone who is high-functioning autistic, with very bad attention deficit disorder, and expressive dysgraphia (it’s like dyslexia) I know this pattern.

          I have been sloppy since childhood (now age 68). I can clean up things like my office of workshop and organize them until they are perfect. I have the intention of keeping them that way. But 3 days later, the area looks like the set of Sanford and Son. Yes, I can believe trump took docs and simply never put them back.

          I think Rayne is right, that there’s no plausible reason to believe the docs were taken by mistake. But as to the resulting mess? I think that’s Donald being Donald.

        • Tom-1812 says:

          As far as the messy workspace goes, you’re in good company. This is how General Horace Porter described U.S. Grant’s HQ at City Point during the siege of Petersburg in 1864: “General Grant’s desk was always in a delirious state of confusion; pigeonholes were treated with a sublime disregard, and he left his letters piled up in apparently inextricable heaps”. But Porter goes on to say that Grant seemed to carry a mental map of his desk in his mind and could instantly lay his hand on any paper that he wanted.

  26. Riktol says:

    In the photo that everyone was swooning about (attachment F in the government filing) there is a small black box or object in top left corner.
    It made me think of the small book that Stone apparently kept, recording his interactions with Trump. I don’t suppose there is any record of what happened to it?

    I think you originally said that they seized adjacent boxes during the search. I suspect that’s wrong because each item has at least one government document. I think when they took boxes containing government records they didn’t make any extra notes because that was the default expectation.

    It’s interesting to see how some things have changed, item 7 was originally described as a handwritten note, now it is described as an unclassified government document. Item 3 was originally a ‘potential’ presidential record, but now is definitely 2 government documents.

    • timbo says:

      They were authorized, in the warrant, to take any adjacent materials or objects. In practical fact, they took pictures and videos during the search so that physical relationships to other objects in various rooms would be recorded for analysis later if necessary. It appears that some objects and items may have been adjacent to other items taken that may or may not be only indirectly relevant to the investigation. The warrant was relatively broad in that regard as it wasn’t and still isn’t clear what is and isn’t relevant to counter intel investigators in this matter. Note that related physical objects can be used to develop temporal relationships to when, why, or how some of these documents ended up where they were found by the agents. Such relational juxtopositions might also provide a clue as to who as well…

  27. paul lukasiak says:

    IMHO, the most damning thing here is that the DoJ/government is NOT saying that the documents that these folders once contained have been recovered. If they had the documents, they would have indicated this in some way. So we have to assume that documents are actually missing, especially since only 27 documents with classified markings were found in the Office, but 43 empty folders were found.

    Now the question is, when will the DoJ find evidence sufficient to establish probable cause for a search of Bedminster and his residence, AND business offices, in Trump Tower?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A little far over your skis. We do not yet have enough information to assume that contents of the empty folders are missing.

      • timbo says:

        Can we at least assume that they were officially considered missing at some point over the past 18 months or so?

    • The Baffled King says:

      Yep, we don’t have enough information to know if the government holds the documents from the now-empty folders. The Detailed Property Inventory is nothing more than a list of what was seized, and where it was seized; it therefore has to include the empty folders, and it isn’t the right forum to clarify whether the contents have been found.

  28. dumbquestion says:

    Even my local library knows when a book goes out and who took it out. Is there no tracking mechanism to note when a classified SCI document goes out and who took it and whether it was returned?

    • KM Williams says:

      That should be the Question of the Day. I would think that with so many stolen documents, US Intelligence must have known about them.

      If not, it makes our Intelligence (Military, Civilian, DOJ) people look extraordinarily stupid. And it is hard to believe that.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The mechanism exists and works well when followed, with decades of use. However, this is a WH full of toadies and minions willing to look the other way when rules are flouted and bypassed, which means the protections regarding traceability and critical document control break down into dust. Individual-1 knows that none of his bootlickers will tell him to log stuff out so he just grabbed what he wanted.

        Add to that the fact that many of these minions have no clue how classified materials should be managed (Kash Patel, OTOH does and should be prosecuted for his role in this) because of their lightweight backgrounds and don’t realize what needed to be done and why it was important. They just knew TFG wanted something and believed he could do whatever he wanted.

      • xbronx says:

        Even if any or all of the various Intelligence services you mention did know, all it takes is a middle-manager or an “acting” boss to slow or stop the business of finding out.

  29. Troutwaxer says:

    Since some of these are apparently military documents, is Trump (as commander in chief) also subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice? Or is he simply treated as a civilian?

  30. Tim L. says:

    We’re getting very close to the proverbial shooting someone on 5th Ave. scenario. Let’s assume that he *is* entangled with Putin in some way (he is). One of the *first* things Putin would want would be HUMINT sources inside his regime – which we know there are/were; and we further know that Putin’s top officials disappear from time to time – like the Lukoil guy who just “jumped” out a window the other day. My guess is that CIA human sources have already been compromised, even during the 45 admin. Jared gave intel to the Saudis. We may not know the whole truth for 50 years, even if there is a trial.

    • Benji says:

      Tim L. – “Let’s assume that he *is* entangled with Putin in some way (he is).”

      Speculation of course: I still think if it exists the ‘pee’ tape is actually the ‘P’ tape.

      Unsure if this urban legend of a lewd act precedes any of the sideline/no translator present talks with Putin, but hope a reference to it comes out.

  31. SaltinWound says:

    If Trump was holding a secret pardon over Stone—he knew it existed but couldn’t access it—would that make Stone a possible source for the raid? I mean, would he have an interest in his secret pardon not being secret? And he would probably know where to look.

  32. Traveller says:

    Well the only obvious solution to all of this is to name Marcy as Special Master! But beyond this there are a few things to be said…What Tim L says about Putin and the Saudi’s is probably terrifying true…I was preparing my apology tour re Judge Cannon where I was called “Credulous,” (what a great word), and any good she might be doing was purely accidental. My brother, also an attorney, agrees with criticism against my position in all of this.

    But maybe yes, maybe no….her every move so far, to include this release of the more complete inventory, has worked towards a more complete destruction of Mr. Trump, (imo). On the other hand, this just may be a function of the terrible lawyering by Mr. Trump’s legal advisors…kind of like the rule in Cross Examination….Don’t ask a question you don’t already know the answer to, (because the witness will just hit one out of the park…and you will just be standing there looking foolish).

    And this is exactly what is happening to Trump attorneys and this case…they keep asking and DOJ just keeps killing them, hitting the high fast ball out of t he park…What is Cannon’s role in all of this, I just don’t know…reading the summary of the 2 hour hearing yesterday, she seemed measured but leaning hard on DOJ…so, Hummm…I think her opinions wrong so far…but I still sense that all of this has been very helpful to DOJ. Again, if Judge Cannon insists on a Special Master, I am sure that Dr. Wheeler would accommodate her wishes…(grin)

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Hypothetically, if this judge was pro-Republican but anti-Trump, a very good strategy would be to give the Trump camp everything they rather self-destructively want, then turn around and give the DOJ everything it wants… and afterwards say something nice about DeSantis.

      But I suspect that’s pure fantasy, though I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong; from everything I’ve seen so far the judge is in Trump’s pocket.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      Trump’s attorneys don’t throw any high, fast ones, all they can manage are fat melons over the plate.

    • timbo says:

      Cannon is part of the delay, delay, delay squad for Twitler here. That having been said, she may try to do things that DOJ will have to go along with while DOJ appeals. I take it as a given that whatever Cannon does, Twitler’s lawyers will appeal as well. Their whole schtick seems to be them trying to invent an alternative legal reality in which Twitler and other Twisslerings can thrive at the expense of the rest of us.

  33. Jon says:


    If you or I did anything like this, we’d be in a secure, undisclosed location, until the cows came home. It’s not my province, but I have think that security professionals are blowing blue smoke out their ears right now.

    Secure folder sleeves without content: There has to be sirens, flashing lights and alarm bells going off across the country.

    I’m no fan of the military or classification, but my eyes are bugging out.

    • bbleh says:

      As noted previously, not by any means a security professional, but having worked with classified docs, THAT PICTURE gave me the heebie-jeebies, purely instinctively.

      • P J Evans says:

        Having grown up in an area where parents wore photo badges to work (in the 50s!), and no one ever asked “what does your father do?”, that photo gave me the willies.

    • cmarlowe says:

      >> I’m no fan of the military or classification…

      Absent a complete change in human nature, we really do need both.

    • pdaly says:

      As long as Barr does not get named as a special master (and I hope the FL judge eventually agrees this case does not need one), then I’m okay with him in this instance speaking truth to the MAGA crowd.

    • notjonathon says:

      Rat, meet ocean. You helped sink the Ship of State, but now your destroyer is foundering on the rocks.
      Barr can only pray (maybe while whipping himself or wearing a hair shirt) that Trump goes down for this crime and not for one that he helped cover up.

    • pcpablo says:

      Barr is operating under the idea that the last thing he says will define his legacy and all that other stuff will be forgotten.
      In today’s time of short attention span, it may just work.

  34. WilliamOckham says:

    [joke]Obviously, removing documents from their folder/coversheet is how Trump was declassifying them.[/joke]

    At least, I hope it’s a joke.

    • bbleh says:

      As the Trump version of your esteemed forebear’s principle notes, the truth is almost surely more stupid. He just didn’t care. He was king and the king does as he pleases. This “declassification” nonsense is just some recently-squirted squid ink. (Was it maybe Patel’s idea, or was someone else hawking it first?)

      • MattyG says:

        Claiming insta-declassification may have been DTs only practical (easiest) way to motivate balking, recalcitrant and perhaps even petrified flunkies into handling the stuff. Then it kinda took on a life of it’s own when his cover was blown. But someone must have planted the idea in his head.

      • Adam Selene says:

        I think you (and the other commenters) are right.
        It’s just hard for me to think like a megalomaniac.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Regardless of whether you’re right about the particulars, Trump clearly works at that level. “I’m the boss, and I tore off the classification header, so it must not be classified anymore.”

      RTFM Mister Trump!

    • BobCon says:

      I think there is a real possibility that removing classification markings via removing from folders or other coverings, photocopying with markings covered up, or possibly blacking marks out or ripping them off, were all precursors to handing some documents off to other people.

      The goal was to create some semblance of plausible deniabilty for the recipients that the documents were in fact declassified. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

      I suspect some documents were just liberated from folders because Trump wanted them as souvenirs or was offended by the implication of government ownership. But obscuring their classified status was a third reason.

      • MB says:

        To your last paragraph, there was a clip tonight from Chris Hayes’ show showing that at “45 Wine and Whisky”, a bar Trump owns in NYC, an empty Top Secret folder is under glass behind the bar and on display along with a plethora of other Trump memorabilia. A glass of anything there starts at $25. Who knows what might have been inside that folder at one time.

  35. sleutherone says:

    When I looked through the list, I noticed several of the boxes contained just one book and/or one t-shirt/gift item along with an assortment of folders and documents. That made me think “swag box”. I would not put it past Trump to have such things. It’s very high dollar swag.

    Dr Wheeler, I agree with your tweet that location of certain items may point to motive. Not just the Stone/Macron docs and where they came from. If the documents were grouped in any way, it may be possible to determine who would be interested in the information. Specific missing documents might further refine the possible target audience. We will never have a complete picture. Hopefully DOJ and the IC will.

  36. Pacific says:

    In reviewing newly unsealed documents regarding DOJ’s Request to disclose info about Mar-a-Lago grand jury subpoena, Zoe Tillman noted that in the June visit to the storage room the DOJ attorneys spotted 50-55 boxes (which they were not then allowed to open), but the FBI seized only 26 boxes during the August search from the storage room (the rest came from Trump’s office).

    So, the question is were boxes moved out of the storage room between the June visit and the August execution of the search warrant (in an attempt to conceal documents) or were the boxes still there in August, but did not contain items responsive to the search warrant.

  37. Nick Barnes says:

    Since we’re throwing out wild guesses here, these are mine, based on the following observations: Trump is not intelligent, does not like to read, and is ignorant, ill-disciplined, disorganised, amoral, and an egomaniac.
    I speculate as follows:

    – He doesn’t like to work. I doubt he really understands what “work” is, but sometimes sees other people doing office work so has a notion of what it looks like. So sometimes he kids himself that he’s working, by spending perhaps 30 minutes sifting through some papers, perhaps writing on some of them with a sharpie. Then he gets bored, dumps the heap of papers in a box, and goes off to watch TV. Some of these boxes follow him around (to Mar-a-Lago, to Bedminster, to Trump Tower, on overseas trips, etc) so he can do this make-believe “work” when he feels like it. (this is basically how his “work” behaviour has been described many times in the press).

    – He has no paperwork discipline or systematic filing system at all. The boxes are it. He reaches into the nearest box for a folder, gets the papers out of it, leafs through them, leaves them on the dining table while he gets something else out of another box, puts them back any old how, goes off to watch TV. Anything might end up in any box. There is no system. I don’t think we can read anything into “this was found with that” or “there was an empty folder”. When he was at the White House with a staff, some of whom were apparently both competent and careful, the chaos will have been limited by their efforts. Since then, all bets are off.

    – Classification, national security, the PRA, etc, is all meaningless to him. He doesn’t understand it and doesn’t care. Why would an egomaniac care? He knows that when he was President he could see whatever he wanted and (in effect, regardless of legality) do whatever he wanted with it (give it to visiting Russians, tweet it, tear it up, flush it down the toilet, etc). That seemed entirely right and proper to him, and he sees no reason why it should stop.

    – He likes gosh-wow pictures, so if he was briefed on something with a gosh-wow picture, he would ask to keep that document, regardless of classification status etc. We know that his staff learned years ago to put lots of pictures in his briefings. So I expect most of these documents (both classified and unclassified) have gosh-wow pictures (like the Iran launch site picture which he tweeted). My suspicion is that he thinks the “top secret” cover sheets make a document extra gosh-wow, too.

    – He likes to show off, so will have showed these cool gosh-wow documents and pictures to anybody he wanted to impress. Anybody at all. A beautiful woman? A foreign leader? A business contact? A bus boy?

    – He loves to see press which portray him in a positive light or (especially) have a flattering picture of him. This is probably most of the reading he ever actually does. He has probably used a “clipping service” for this for several decades. Hence the large number of “newspaper/magazine articles”. I bet 95+% of them are about him or have a flattering picture of him.

    – When he was finally forced to pack up and leave the White House, the stacks and heaps and drifts of jumbled paperwork that had built up in the residence were shovelled into boxes and taken to Mar-a-Lago, willy-nilly. This is why each box has a mixture of classified and unclassified documents, newspaper articles, folders, gifts, etc. Possibly he had the vague intention to sort through it all at some point. I know some disorganised packrats like that, with stacks of boxes of jumbled memorabilia, bank statements, unanswered letters.

    In short, I doubt that he himself came up with any cunning scheme to cart off and conceal documents, or to select and retain classified documents which might have particular value (for sale, or blackmail, or whatever). I think he’s too stupid, too self-obsessed, and too disorganised for all that. Which isn’t to say that he shouldn’t go to jail for a very long time for all this. There have certainly been people around him and with access to him, throughout his presidency and since, who are both intelligent enough to see what was going on and unethical enough to turn it to his and their advantage. I am sure that secrets have been copied, stolen, and sold many times, sometimes behind his back and sometimes with his participation, and that (as long as he got his cut) he would see nothing wrong with that.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I think he’s probably more criminally minded than you’re making him out to be, but not a bad theory for the rest of it.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          The Donald is, fundamentally, a criminal mind. But he’s only managed to succeed at it (certainly not business) because of his enablers and his lawyers’ use of the somewhat perverse legal system here in the US that allows well-resourced white collar criminals the ability to endlessly obfuscate under the guise of ‘due process’ whilst counter-suing and then to avoid jail or even a trial by ‘settling’ without an admission of guilt out of court.

          The Donald has since discovered that this obfuscation is even more turtuous and advantageous when it comes to the Executive branch of government and to the POTUS in particular. Eastman’s involvement in ‘theoretically’ testing practices is merely one instance of this. More is(depressingly) likely to come on this front.

          This has been The Donald’s entire MO his entire career and we shouldn’t be at all shocked that it continues in the same vein.

    • quickbread says:

      I think he’s also pretty methodical but isn’t methodical in the same ways the average person is. I don’t think he stored all those files willy nilly. They were probably just organized unconventionally (not alphabetized or chronological as one might expect with recordkeeping).

      A few possibilities: they could have been grouped by target recipient (i.e. all the kompromat incriminating to Lindsey Graham in one box, files for Putin in another, etc.).

      Or they could have been grouped by the scandal or current event they pertained to, with all the related internal classified intel and the external media and public reactions collected together (i.e. all the materials related to the Iran Deal in one box; all those related to the Helsinki meeting in another; the Mueller report-related materials in another, etc.)

      Or they could have been grouped by types of documents: kompromat for senators/reps in one box, intel to sell to Saudi Arabia in another, self-incriminating material in another, etc. Or sorted by spheres of value/potential, from most valuable to least valuable but still worth holding onto. There are lots of relatively orderly possibilities that could sound (probably intentionally) like a random collection on an FBI inventory list.

  38. The Baffled King says:

    In reply to Rayne’s comment (September 3, 2022 at 10:24 pm):

    I don’t know why you focus on the fact that there can only be one president at a time, the fact that the president who issued the pocket pardon was no longer in office when the (potential) pocket pardon was discovered, or the fact that an ex-president cannot exercise the powers of the presidency. These facts are self-evidently correct, and I have never disputed them.

    Re. The Logan Act: This is a red herring. The Constitution itself ensures that there is only one president at a time (via the Twentieth Amendment). The Logan Act does not – and cannot – affect this, and it was not enacted in order to clarify that there is “only one executive at a time”.

    Re. Article II Treaty Power: This does not seem analogous to the pardon power, but I won’t argue about treaties because I’m not drawing on opinions of informed parties (but I assume that a request for advice and consent is a presidential power, so Trump can’t request it after Biden was sworn in).

    Re. Executive Privilege (“EP”): This is not remotely analogous to the pardon power, and you are misunderstanding how EP works. In Nixon v. GSA, 433 U.S. 425 (1977), as part of the ratio, the Supreme Court explicitly state that ex-presidents can claim EP. I would explain this as follows: the power of the executive effectively attaches itself to presidential communications in real time as they happen. A claim of EP by a former president is therefore based not on an assertion that a former president retains executive power, but on executive power validly applied during their presidency; the EP claim serves essentially as a formal reminder of the effect of that power.

    Re. Trump v Thompson, 95 U.S. (2022): The Supreme Court certainly did not determine that Trump “does not have executive privilege any longer”, nor did they even determine that an EP claim by a former president will necessarily be overruled by a waiver by the incumbent. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Trump’s EP claim would have failed even were he the incumbent; accordingly, the Supreme Court ruled that discussion by the Court of Appeals concerning the effect of Trump’s status as a former president upon his EP claim was “nonbinding dicta”.

    Re. Details of the Pocket Pardon: You now say that the pocket pardon “may […] not be signed” and “had not been granted to Stone and accepted”. These matters may be relevant in principle to pocket pardons, but we don’t yet know the details of the (hypothetical) Stone pocket pardon. I said at the outset that “its validity would depend on how the process was handled and documented.”; if your arguments depended upon assumed facts, I needed to know at the outset what those facts were.

    Re. Signed or Unsigned: Yes, this seems very relevant. An unsigned pocket pardon invites argument that no final decision to award the pardon had been made, although the court would consider factual evidence that ot had been awarded. More importantly, I could see the courts determining as a matter of law that a signature is among the minimum administrative standards for a valid pardon.

    Re. Delivery and Acceptance: My first post mentioned delivery, and my second linked to an article by a professor of law that discussed both delivery and acceptance – including United States v. Wilson, 32 U.S. 150 (1833) and In re De Puy, 7 F. Cas. 506, 510-11 (S.D.N.Y. 1869) (No. 3814).

    You subsequently cite Burdick v. United States and referred to acceptance. Burdick establishes that pardonees can negate their pardon by refusing to accept it in a legal proceeding, but that’s not the same as saying that a delivered pardon can be revoked unless the pardonee has affirmatively accepted it. Wilson was precedent for Burdick; I doubt the professor of law forgot about Burdick.

    Anyway, potential problems around delivery and acceptance could likely be resolved upon the production of an appropriately-dated video that records Trump handing a pardon to Stone, Stone saying “I accept this pardon”, and Stone holding the pardon to the camera to show its details.

    • Rayne says:

      Anyway, potential problems around delivery and acceptance could likely be resolved upon the production of an appropriately-dated video that records Trump handing a pardon to Stone, Stone saying “I accept this pardon”, and Stone holding the pardon to the camera to show its details.

      This might be the only way around this argument about which you and I will never see eye to eye and I don’t see Roger Stone standing up and defending Trump in any way right now. In fact, Ratfucker Stone is awfully quiet save for a quote in sketchy Epoch Times back on August 13.

      • The Baffled King says:

        Hopefully it was less an argument and more a debate/discussion in which we argued our positions! Anyway, I think it’s an interesting area of law.

        Stone’s lawyer also made a statement on his behalf on 13th August: “Mr. Stone has no knowledge as to the facts surrounding how his clemency documents appeared on the inventory of items seized from former President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.”.

        We do see eye to eye on thinking that the seized documents relating to Stone might lead to criminal consequences for him and Trump – perhaps via the Conspiracy statute, as you said, or the Obstruction statute – and on hoping for that outcome…

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