The FBI Seized No Boxes with Press Clippings that Postdate November 2020

As I noted in this post, the government wrote their May 11 subpoena to cover all government records in Trump’s possession, not just those that had come from the White House and not just those that were in Florida.

Although the SDFL Motion indicates that FPOTUS directed his staff to conduct a review of boxes moved “from the White House to Florida,” the subpoena was not so limited, instead seeking “[a]ny and all documents or writings in the custody or control of Donald J. Trump and/or the Office of Donald J. Trump bearing classification markings,” without limitation to where they were stored.

They clearly believed then that some of the documents Trump stole might not be at Mar-a-Lago. Indeed, Evan Corcoran’s insistence on June 3 that he was instructed to search only the records that had moved from the White House to Florida may have exacerbated that concern.

That makes something revealed in the more detailed inventory released yesterday more alarming.

None of the boxes seized by the FBI include press clippings that postdate November 2020.


The most innocent explanation anyone has offered for Trump’s theft of government documents — call it the Maggie Haberman theory of compulsive pack-rattery — is that Trump just kept making piles of documents, including both news articles and Top Secret government documents, on the dining room table where he preferred to work. Those stacks got put into boxes, and staffers kept swapping out the boxes as they filled up. That was the filing system employed by the most powerful man in the world.

That explanation does seem to accord with many of the boxes of the detailed inventory. In the inventory, the FBI counted every fucking clipping Trump kept, along with the dates. Over the last month, FBI Agents have cataloged 1,673 clippings, dating back to October 1995, that were stored with government documents. Every box has at least one press clipping; even Trump’s leatherbound box of treasures had almost 100 clippings stored alongside his Top Secret/SCI documents. And if you track the entire inventory by the date ranges of the press clippings, you see that those boxes overlap.

There seems to have been no Chief of Staff, not even retired General John Kelly, who could cure him of the habit.

But none of those boxes — not even the collection including 357 government documents seized from his office (see item 4) — includes a single clipping that post-dates November 2020.

There are no clippings from the final two months of his Presidency — the months he plotted a coup.

And so if we adhere to the Maggie Haberman theory of compulsive pack-rattery, the most innocent explanation for Trump’s theft of government documents, there may still a serious problem. Because if every box in which Trump stored government documents should also have press clippings he read at the same time as those government documents, it means there would be no government documents at Mar-a-Lago from the period when Trump was plotting a coup.

Perhaps Trump already turned in those boxes. Perhaps the post-November 2020 press clippings were delivered to the Archives on January 17, 2022, just a year late.

But Paul Sperry said that the reason Trump was withholding records from the Archives was to keep documents of interest to the January 6 Committee from being available to the Archives that it might turn over to the Committee. (h/t Ron Filipkowski)

And if the dates of the clippings in the boxes are any indication of the dates of the records in the boxes, then it suggests the FBI may still not have all the records Trump stole from the White House. Indeed, it suggests the FBI might still be missing some of the most important records, not just for the January 6 Committee’s work, but also for our understanding of key policy steps Trump took in that period, including developments in the Abraham Accords and possibly even Trump’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty (which happened close to the end of November 2020). This is the period, too, when Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller cut off briefings to the incoming Biden folks.

Again, there may be an innocent explanation for the fact that the FBI seized no press clippings from after November. But the absence of any clippings from after that date — not one! — is the most remarkable thing disclosed by the detailed inventory.

149 replies
  1. joel fisher says:

    The simplest explanation is also the most likely: he still has the freakin’ boxes from November 2020 forward. The box hauler/boxreplacer minion(s) need(s) to answer a few questions.

    • Rayne says:

      Or there was no one doing media/press clipping in the White House after the 2020 election. Remember the White House Secretary’s last day was December 18; was Lyons responsible for clipping and stopped after the election? Did some lower level flunky like an intern bail out leaving this task undone?

      It may be more critical to note whether the other earlier boxes included any work product like notes in addition to press clippings. I’d be looking for an absence of work product apart from press clippings after November 2020.

      • joel fisher says:

        If the “fill a box, swap out the box” routine really did go back to the ’90s, the absence of the Nov, Dec, and Dec boxes strongly suggests Donny got some splainin’ to do.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I also noticed a big gap from the 1995 date to the next, more specific one: October 2008, which marked the final month of Barack Housein Obama’s *first* successful run for president. Given Trump’s public fixation on Obama, I wonder how many of those clippings relate to his predecessor.

      • Leu2500 says:

        But we know from previous reporting that one of the purposes of the press clippings was to feed his ego

        That need didn’t end with the election. Indeed, he needed a *bigger* boost after losing

        • Rayne says:

          Let me go back to my previous question: after the 2020 election, who was in the White House to do the clippings and stroke that wretch’s ego? Who was doing it after Derek Lyons left as of December 19? Just because he needed his massive narcissistic ego fed doesn’t mean there was anybody there to do it.

          For that matter, who were the staff who were allegedly surreptitiously packing materials after the election? We only hear unnamed sources but never get concrete names.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          I mentioned this in a previous thread.

          My guess is that NOBODY was doing any of the standard secretarial activities normally engaged in by the Office of the POTUS. Why should they? They lost. We’re not putting anone in there. Screw everyone and the horse they rode in on would have been The Donald’s contemptuous statement.

          Also my guess is that, until then, the box out/box in process would have been carried out to some extent so those doing the box out process will probably already have been questioned by the Feds.

      • Badger Robert says:

        After the election, anyone who had been assigned the clippings task was probably busy looking for a job. And after the election, Trump’s mind may have been to disordered with conspiracy theories to do any clipping himself. He was dependent on TV and busy on the phone after the election.

      • mosmill says:

        But if the explanation were ‘no one was around to make clippings’, then we would expect there to be one or more box(es) of government documents, etc., collected after 11/2020, but without press clippings from that time period. Based on what is shown in EW’s spreadsheet above, there are no boxes without clippings.

    • Playdohglobe says:

      This observation of press clipping dates cut off timing is very interesting.

      I have no knowledge of procedures of FBI/CI/PRA etc. However the thought popped into my head from the Cannon court filing released today?

      Why the 14 day delay to describe “irreparable harm” from Trusty/Corcoran?

      EW summary’
      Cannon: Why did you wait 14 days if this injury was so urgent?

      Trusty: Not telling.

      I am sure delay for delay’s sake is possible. Trusty very clearly was hiding something from the court.

      I wonder if the info is linked in some manner? Negotiations w/Gvmnt, or more nefarious, like destroying more incriminating info that is bound to exist and not wanted to be turned over.

      I sure hope clandestine work RE: FBI, wiretaps/other to track who is doing what for Trump WRT the suggest missing “post NOV. data related to Coup plotting.

      Thank you EW for this important observation.

    • fm says:

      These “missing” documents would be ones he wouldn’t sell or be showing off to others. This may be far fetched but how does the timing and reason of Ivana’s burial at Bedminster fit in? He may have ignored the subpoena so he could get those doc’s out of MAL. Would Trump be diabolical enough to bury these documents in Ivana’s casket? There was plenty of room since she was cremated.

      • Wajim says:

        The “Ivana’s Casket” idea seems made for the Daily Kos crowd, or perhaps Geraldo Rivera; why, if he wanted to hide them would he not simply burn them?

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          And burning them would mean they don’t exist any more and The Donald would refuse to relinquish his toys to the bitter end because, after all, he thinks like a seven-year-old.

    • joel fisher says:

      Looking more carefully at the graphic it appears that there is no consecutiveness to the boxes. The boxes themselves are in no order that I could figure out. But, as usual EW gets to the heart of the matter: no boxes from Nov. ’20 forward. Definitely need to hear from the box master(s).

  2. Jon says:

    I’ve been saying this for a while. There’s no reason to think that Trump wasn’t removing government property from the White House throughout the entirety of his Presidency. No one was going to inventory his briefcase, when he went home for the weekend. There’s also no reason to think all of the material is only at Mar a Lago, or that the FBI search turned up all of the materials there. There is every reason to think that government property is being sequestered in other/all of Trump’s properties, and at properties controlled by his associates. Does Trump have a storage unit(s) near MaL and elsewhere?

    And, as I speed read through various news stories, there’s at least one mention that the FBI observed gifts among his papers. Those gifts are the property of the government, and are items of monetary value. That’s straight up theft. In addition to his unlawful retention of government documents.

    And this is before we get to the vexxed and unfolding issue of the handling and disposal of government documents. While I’m astonished at reports of his destruction and disposal of documents, I’m far more concerned with who else may have seen or obtained those documents, what use was made of that information, and whether Trump received any value from such distributions.

      • Rayne says:

        Look, you’ve pointed to the raid and seizure of Vekselberg properties twice inside two days. Vekselberg is an economic octopus with tentacles in many places which affect NATO members, involving a lot of criminal behavior (ex. possible loss of money loaned by Lithuanian refrigerator maker Snaige to Russian investors).

        Let’s not assume because someone like Vekselberg has been raided while under sanctions that there’s a direct link to the findings at Mar-a-Lago. If there are they may be laundered a few times and we may never know because it may be ongoing counterintelligence.

        • Rugger9 says:

          It may not be totally out of the realm of possibilities to see stuff from Individual-1, but as you note there are problems with the chain of custody (making anything unverifiable), and I’d add that usually Russian spy tradecraft is better than to leave stuff like this in paces where the FBI can raid with complete authority.

        • Rayne says:

          I wouldn’t put it past Russian operatives to be either this sloppy (ex. GRU has been ridiculously sloppy to the point of appearing to leave fuck-yous, see use of sequentially numbered false IDs issued to spies), or deliberately leaving evidence which is ambiguous in an effort to increase distrust as part of a destabilization effort.

        • Nick Caraway says:

          Which may be another way of saying, I wouldn’t put it past Trump to be that sloppy, as well.Andthat would not be helpful to him in this refard. From what I know of tradecraft, any spy worth his/ her salt who had gotten access to the docs would have photographed/ copied them, and put them back in the exact way that that they were before.

          If indeed a spy had been able to see the docs, and if the docs were a mess before the spy found them, unauthorized access would have been easier to conceal. Because it would be that much less obvious that the papers had been disturbed.

          If these docs contained real gold dust, the play would be to copy every inch as surreptitiously as possible. Let other operatives work the angle of sowing suspicion, in a project totally separate from the mission to penetrate Mar a Lago. You’d want to copy the docs as unobtrusively as possible, as quickly as possible.

  3. bbleh says:

    Surely Murphy can arrange for just ONE staffer, maybe from Bedminster &/or TT, maybe one of his traveling entourage, hell maybe just a cleaning-service person, to give them a reasonably verifiable tip that there are documents at one or both of those locations too.

  4. BobCon says:

    It’s like an archaelogical dig where you find among the rubble of a burned mill an accumulation of pennies with dates that stop at 1820. You get a good idea when the mill was burned and the operation was moved to a different site.

      • John Colvin says:

        I have never seen a search warrant inventory provide such a fulsome dating of what most people would likely consider irrelevant documents (press clippings). I wonder if providing this information on the warrant return inventory was a way to telegraph to Trump’s attorneys that there may still be responsive documents that have not been provided (potential obstruction).

        • bbleh says:

          Or to a judge who happens to read it carefully.

          One definitely does not get the impression that DOJ are doing things accidentally or on a whim here.

    • Krisy Gosney says:

      A thought as to a location of coup period documents. I was reading comments and thinking where would be a totally safe place? I would only seriously propose this of a couple of people alive in the world today. And still it’s awful and ridiculous. But a safe place would be to bury them on your property. A golf course, where you’ve recently had legitimate reason to dig? It’s an awful and ridiculous thought but with Trump it’s not totally unthinkable.

        • RMD says:

          Ground Penetrating Radar

          Burial sites
          GPR is used by criminologists, historians, and archaeologists to search burial sites.[16] In his publication, Interpreting Ground-penetrating Radar for Archaeology, Lawrence Conyers, who is “one of the first archaeological specialists in GPR” described the process.[17] Conyers published research using GPR in El Salvador in 1996,[18] in the Four Corners region Chaco period in southern Arizona in 1997,[19][20] and in a medieval site in Ireland in 2018
          GPR can be a powerful tool in favorable conditions (uniform sandy soils are ideal). Like other geophysical methods used in archaeology (and unlike excavation) it can locate artifacts and map features without any risk of damaging them. Among methods used in archaeological geophysics, it is unique both in its ability to detect some small objects at relatively great depths, and in its ability to distinguish the depth of anomaly sources.

          source: Wikipedia

      • Alexi says:

        Why I think this makes no sense:

        1. If Trump wanted to keep documents to use in any way for himself, either for sale or for leverage he’s going to need them to be accessible. Inside a grave on an open to the public golf course is NOT truly accessible.

        2. If they are evidence of his criminality he’d have destroyed them. He’s got a reputation for that as it is; and there’s no reason he’d change that behavior.

        3. I believe this “theory” started out as a joke.

        • Lady4real says:

          Why was the ‘empty’ casket soo heavy it took 8 pallbearers instead of 6? Cremated remains aren’t that heavy.

        • pH unbalanced says:

          Every time I see this question, it makes me think people just don’t pay attention at funerals. Coffins (especially high-end ones) are plenty heavy all by themselves. Also, being a pallbearer is an honor — it is not unusual to have more than you actually need to carry the coffin.

        • fm says:

          The documents missing are those in the time period of the Jan6 coup. These are not good for sale, but they are good to keep evidence of wrongdoing by various administration hidden. It would be noticed if he “destroyed” numerous boxes of documents. Its not like tearing up a piece of paper and flushing it.

  5. Marika says:

    Anyone have a record of Presidential trips outside the WH to someplace other than MAL after Nov 2020? Did he go to Bedminster or his New York Apt? Someone would know if he took boxes with him to MAL or anywhere else after Nov 20, wouldn’t they? We don’t even know if there has been any search warrants for anywhere other than MAL. If there have not, then they haven’t established probable cause. It was clearer in the MAL situation since we have video of boxes loaded into a moving van at the WH and driven to MAL. At what point would the mere absence of classified material that was known to have been given to Trump that is not in the material found at MAL give them probable cause for a bigger search? Another situation where Trump is probably not being treated like any other person with access to. Classified material that is missing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Um, because under the Fourth Amendment, the government needs to persuade a judge that it has probable cause to execute a search warrant. In simple terms, that requires reasonable evidence that a crime has been committed, and that evidence of that crime is in the specific place to be searched.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        And there was always provenance / a chain of custody for the docs in Florida.

        Obviously the feds are going to be thinking about the other main properties, but they’re going to need some very solid leads.

    • Peterr says:

      In the redacted part of the affidavit for the search warrant, the DOJ had to show that (among other things) they had reason to believe that the materials they were after were indeed at Mar-A-Lago, and they had to tell the judge *why* they had that belief.

      I can’t believe there would be a judge who would sign off on a ginormous open-ended warrant to search every room in every property owned or controlled by Trump, simply because the DOJ found some illegally-possessed government documents at Mar-A-Lago. The DOJ needs evidence (documents, testimony, etc.) that narrows the scope of the potential search down to a particular place before a judge would approve the warrant.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        How do we get to that next step? What’s happening right now behind the scenes?

        Is the FBI interviewing people? Fingerprinting the documents? Subpoenaing video from the security cameras of the home/business next door? Bringing the staff in for interviews? Chasing after the moving company that transported everything out of the White House? (I’d imagine some stuff got sent to Mar A Lago, some sent to Trump Tower, etc.) Are they subpoenaing witnesses to go in front of the grand jury? Planting bugs and doing wiretaps? What’s happening now to move stuff forward?

        • Peterr says:

          I strongly suspect that the DOJ has been working on developing that evidence, and has been doing this for quite some time. All the things you have asked about are the kind of things that led them to whatever is in the redacted part of the warrant affidavit, and they are probably continuing to do them right now.

          The thing is, they do these things “behind the scenes” for a very good reason. They don’t want to tip anyone off about what might be coming, so that evidence doesn’t get moved around or witnesses tampered with.

        • Nick Barnes says:

          Quite right. If this plays out as justice demands, and he is indicted and tried, I fully expect any number of people in TrumpWorld to have sudden recollections of things which had previously slipped their minds, and which they are more than happy to share with law enforcement.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Good point. And he won’t blab unless, as in this instance, he sees grifting possibilities to be realized. One search may be persecution. Two or more, especially after the first yielded Top Secret papers, starts to seem purposeful.

  6. marc sobel says:

    A reasonable assumption is that they are safely stored in where they are visited every two hours by officials who were granted the appropriate clearance before TFG left office.

  7. Drew says:

    Good observation! Of course, we can’t tell what’s missing without knowing what DoJ knows or is finding out. There’s a *slim* (vanishingly slim) possibility that the White House staff packed up his most recent working area and sent it to the archives before January 20. But the investigators will know, not just from clippings but from notes, dates on classified & unclassified documents, etc when various piles were used. They will also know to a greater or lesser extent what items should be there that are missing. It seems likely that there are missing piles/boxes/classified documents from post-November 2020. (I wonder if there’s a cutoff date DURING November after which documents disappear).

    Unless Trump panicked and arranged for the lot of them to be destroyed, they must exist somewhere. That would be incentive for the investigators to work to figure out where they’re kept and develop probable cause for further search warrants. I do wonder whether said boxes were in Trump’s luggage when he departed for Bedminster in June to spend his summer relaxing with Saudi Princes & the few professional golfers he could persuade to hang out.

    • Drew says:

      Obviously, going to extra lengths to move those recent boxes with evidence of Big Lie & J6 conspiracies, etc would be even further & bigger evidence of obstruction.

    • P J Evans says:

      Reportedly that was Ivana’s wish. However, it shouldn’t have needed more than 6 guys for a casket with an urn or a box of ashes inside, unless it’s lead-lined.

        • Rayne says:

          Have to admit I had a crazy thought while stewing on the possible existence of a Nov-Jan press clipping box…

          What if Ivana was cremated as she wished — and who knows if she wanted to become part of the rough at Bedminster — but what if all the press clipping files and some additional sensitive materials were also cremated? What if all the ashes of paperwork were enough to fill a coffin?

          What if the reason Mazars and Trump org were finally put into a position to turn over records to House Oversight this past week was because so many other records they’d been hiding have been cremated, too?

          LOL we may have missed a funerary bonfire at Bedminster.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope that there won’t be enough left for the DoJ to get a conviction.

        • FLwolverine says:

          My understanding is that cremation can only be done at licensed crematoriums, not in somebody’s backyard. Until a body is reduced to ashes (“cremains” – ugly word) it has to be handled in accordance with state laws and regs. Point being: it ought to be hard to put a lot of extraneous documents in the cardboard casket with the body to be cremated.

          On the other hand, there are probably crematoria that specialize in mob burials ……

        • P J Evans says:

          Cremated and buried in a coffin. I have no idea what her opinion was about being buried at Bedminster, though it’s my understanding the former guy has, or planned to have, a mausoleum there.

  8. Mister Sterling says:

    Search every Trump property in the United States. Bedminster. Manhattan. Westchester. Search them all. Then indict, because time is running out here. What is the DOJ going to do if they don’t indict? Say, “we caught you committing two or three crimes. But you’re a former president. It’s all good”? It’s not all good. It is time to indict.

    • P J Evans says:

      I think they’re close to probable cause to search all of those. Plus his kids’ homes, if they took boxes out of the WH.

    • Michael Scott says:

      Can the May 11th (presumably worldwide, or at least nationwide) subpoena to Donald Trump personally for all govt. docs in his possession be served, RIGHT NOW, at Bedminster? At Trump Tower? At his Scottish golf course? IOW, is further “due process” needed to go through the local federal courts, for example, to get the warrant served, or is it good to go RIGHT NOW? (I AM a lawyer, as it happens, but have done precious little federal court work, and none of it criminal.)

      • Ruthie says:

        IANAL, but I believe earlofhuntington, who is, said in another thread that the feds would need to have recent information indicating whatever’s on the warrant is likely to be found in any other place they might propose to search. For the MAL search, informants provided that cause.

      • GWPDA says:

        A valid US search warrant could only be served abroad with the co-operation of the local police establishment. If TFG had Canadian property, then the RCMP (in the absence of some other provincial police) would have to be authorised to serve the warrant. An arrest warrant, issued in New York City, could only be served in Los Angeles if judicially accepted in the other jurisdiction. (I learnt the latter from that swell L&O 5part story arc about the Hollywood writer lopping off his wife’s head. The former I learnt from studying history at Oxford and reading English murder mysteries.)

    • PeterS says:

      Do you have a background in criminal law, in particular the process that DOJ has to go through, or are your comments uninformed venting.

  9. Nick Barnes says:

    I wondered the same thing. I would guess that a lot of press clippings after the lost election would be less appealing to the loser, but that doesn’t account for the total absence from December 2020 and January 2021 (unless the losing loser hated his losing press clippings, about what a loser he was and how he lost the election like a losing loser who lost, so much that he cancelled the clipping service). I’m not sure the Paul Sperry story makes any sense (when exactly was Trump “reluctant”? Why didn’t he hand anything over before that?). I’m inclined to discount it anyway, because if “Sources close to Trump say” that the sun is shining, you should take an umbrella.
    Certainly in any case there need to be searches of the other properties, at the very least, and I am sure the FBI have that in mind.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    He has been collecting the non government material for a long time. We don’t know how the clippings and magazines became mixed with government property. He may have done it himself, though that is unlikely.

    • P J Evans says:

      Oh, he’s completely capable of mixing the clippings with other stuff. It’s what he wants to remember, how, and why.

      • BobCon says:

        MW has a hypothesis that the material found in different places match with different purposes.

        Some of the clippings are from the storage cell, but some are from the office, and I think it’s reasonable to think something different was going on with the office set than the basement set.

        But what, exactly, we don’t know, although the feds may be pretty deep into it.

        My pet theory is one part of them are related to his leaks to reporters (or leaks he ordered his people to make). Clippings would be a way for him to keep track of which reporters could be spun and which were unreliable.

        I’d love to see a full list of what articles and reporters are involved although I’m not holding my breath. But it would be awfully interesting if, say, Ken Vogel’s shoddy Ukraine reporting is there and his sourcing was highlighted.

        • BobCon says:

          “Put down that drink and tell me, Rudy!”

          I’m a tiny bit expecting this all blew up because the search of Rudy’s phone showed he was sending missing classified docs to Vogel.

        • Ddub says:

          I’ve heard of this before. A table or box can function as a mnemonic device. Items placed on, or in it to trigger specific thought sequences.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Mnemonic device? The Donald? Do you think he’s ACTUALLY some sort of criminal mastermind or something? Hint: he’s not.

          Once again, the most obvious thing is likely to be the answer, especially where The Donald is concerned. Stuff he wants to keep generally went to the storeroom. Stuff he wanted to impress (or threaten) people with would be in his office. The stuff in the bedroom would be the most sensitive and the most salacious. Nothing like spicing up things in the bedroom with Melania!

    • Rayne says:

      No. The empty folders are his 18-minute gap. Unlike Nixon, the US won’t be able to sue for their return because of the sensitive nature of the material.

  11. Tom-1812 says:

    Just more speculation here, but I wonder if Trump wanted to hold on to those files because they contained information that he would find useful if he ever managed to serve another term as President. As a private citizen, he would not be in a position to fully exploit the documents in his possession, but back in the Oval Office as Commander-in-Chief he could fully leverage his position and resources to accomplish his aims and unfinished business, whatever they might be.

    Or perhaps the intelligence might be useful to him in staging another coup attempt before the 2024 election.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Presumably, Trump had many purposes in mind, in keeping thousands of government documents beyond his term of office. They would all revolve around him. All of them would be illegal, including the two you mention.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As Marcy’s title implies, that there are no boxes of clippings as from the election and later is a tell. It’s not that Trump changed the habits of a lifetime and stopped collecting clippings about himself, but that the ones covering those dates are missing – along with anything else sandwiched between them. Trump being Trump, a good assumption is that the latter would be among the most incriminating documents he has.

  14. Savage Librarian says:

    JarDon Gate

    JarDon Gate,
    Wrought iron fate,
    The case that’s never closed.

    Spook the market,
    Spook the target,
    Spook the Holy Ghost.

    In like Flynn,
    Pretend to win,
    Mask what was supposed.

    Toss a Stone
    to Prince alone:
    A Bann on who will boast.

    Watch for Mitch
    to scratch the itch
    of butts that he likes most.

    Barr abuser
    wormed into its host.

    Bet on who will coast.

    Spook the market,
    Spook the target,
    Spook the Holy Ghost.

    JarDon Gate,
    Wrought iron fate,
    The case that’s never closed.

    [May 16, 2020]

  15. sleutherone says:

    Trump avoided Mar-a-Lago during the renovations that were being overseen by Melania, arriving just three days before Christmas in 2020. He was ticked at her choice of décor and demanded some of the renovations be ripped out immediately. Additional changes had to be made to suit him.

    I don’t see Trump not having documents to show off or trade at MAL so where were any existing documents when all this reno was going on? Melania would know, but so might her decorator and friend Thom Kannalikham. He was a fly on the wall in all the residences.

    He could not explain how all the later documents disappeared, but he would likely know about all the nooks and crannies where things could be hidden. I don’t believe Trump would destroy the things he valued so much and went through such lengths to hide.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump would have ripped out some of those renovations regardless, because he’s so many things, a vindictive, passive-aggressive prick among them. I can’t get too involved with why he had thousands of documents that aren’t his. He’s been cheating and stealing his whole life. This time, though, there might be consequences.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Earl, somewhere between the reference to Trump ripping out the renovations “regardless” and your description of him as a “vindictive, passive-aggressive prick,” I got the sense that you may know him personally.

        I think it was the inclusion of “passive-aggressive.” Most people continue to overlook Trump’s pattern of cowardly deferral when it comes to taking any direct action that might involve someone reacting to him negatively, whether it’s Mueller or Melania. He shows himself over and over to be one of those big barky dogs that backs away when the scary intruder breaks in, when his followers see him as Cujo crucified.

        Is your insight from experience?

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          We ALL know him but especially if you’ve been following him for the last 40+ years. What you see is EXACTLY what you get.

          And, unlike a true mobster boss, he always gets his underlings to do his dirty work. Not because he wants to keep his nose clean but because he’s a gutless weasel. He’s never fired anyone in real life. I’ll bet that even the ‘firing’ of his contestants on his ‘reality’ show had to be recorded separately from the actual event.

  16. Rapier says:

    I suppose the FBI is going to be spending a lot of time on a forensic examination of the boxes and their contents. Tying to find who handled all those secret file folders for instance. The internet says they have been getting admissible fingerprints from paper for 30 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they can discern if a document has been copied or traveled around. Which is all about the national security issues of this but that is tangential to the current public case revolving around simple possession.

    At any rate if they can ID inappropriate people who handled the docs then if I were one of those people I’d be rather worried. Certainly they would make good witnesses.

  17. Legonaut says:

    MSNBC is reporting that the bar in Trump Tower in New York City (recently renamed to “45 Wine & Whiskey”) includes among its decorations of Trump-themed memorabilia from his Presidency… a folder marked “CLASSIFIED”. It bears the Presidential Seal (printed, not embossed) and the legend “EVENING SUMMARY”. (pictured at 0:53 seconds in)

    Is this a legit USG folder, or a mockup? Does this constitute adequate probable cause for a search warrant, again “for all documents bearing classification markings”, or is it just Trump’s horrendously bad taste as usual?

  18. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    I don’t think the DOJ needs more evidence to indict/convict, but the nation needs to recover all docs related to national security, classified or otherwise. I would urge getting a search warrant, but if it’s sketchy, then ensure any items seized are kept segregated from the agents doing the criminal investigation. The bar to do a search may be lower now that the FBI has solid evidence of crimes. That’s assuming the FBI knows documents remain missing.

    A grand jury can bring in attorney Habba (or housekeepers, etc) as a witness to learn whether documents are at those sites, as she stated publicly and in a NYAG-filed affidvait that she personally searched all those locations. My uneducated guess is that anyplace where Trump keeps documents of any kind are fair game to search, given that he intermingles government and personal docs.

    I also think he should have warrants to monitor his calls at this point. The DOJ needs a sealed indictment on file just in case he tries to leave the country.

    • notjonathon says:

      I kind of think the govt. as a whole would breathe a great sigh of relief if Trump were to flee the country. No need to prosecute, strong evidence of guilt, insurrectionists deprived of leader.
      But I hope that prosecutions won’t end with Trump. The firm of Ross, Mnuchin and DeJoy (just to name a few of the felonious fellows) needs to be brought to account, as well.

  19. newbroom says:

    Someone .knew that documents were routinely mishandled, and missing entirely.
    Don’t we have intelligence agencies? I’d have been watching that slob like a hawk from the git-go. I think Kelly and even Mattis were derelict.
    I keep imagining all of tfg’s properties wrapped in yellow crime scene tape emulating the artist, Christo.

    • skua says:

      Do you think the intelligence agencies haven’t been working on the danger Trump posed since before he was elected?
      What would you expect to be seeing different to what you see now if they’d been functioning properly since 2016?

  20. WilliamOckham says:

    There are some interesting patterns in this data. However, the description of Item 27 (Box A-71) makes me wonder if I’ve been misinterpreting all of the descriptions:

    1 Magazines/Newspapers/Press Articles and Other Printed Media dated between 07/2016- 9/2020

    It seems very unlikely that 1 item would span a date range between 07/2016 and 09/2020. So, this suggests that each box has an unknown number of “Other Printed Media” and the numbers given just apply to “Magazines/Newspapers/Press Articles”, but the date ranges apply to the combined categories, not just the “Magazines/Newspapers/Press Articles”.

    • Rayne says:

      Could have been a binder of clippings forming (1) lot. I dunno…the man’s desk was usually a disaster based on photos over a number of years. Like so:

      This is actually neat compared to:

      • bbleh says:

        And yet for a disorganized disaster, the high percentage of visible items that feature Trump’s picture (some obviously from MUCH earlier) suggests a certain, um, attention paid.

        Every now and again the full horror of the power of the presidency vested in such a manifestly psychologically damaged individual sorta catches up with me …

        • Rayne says:

          He didn’t buy the print media with his face/name on it, you can bet someone else did. Someone enabled his narcissism all the time, whether they were paid or unpaid to do so. Someone else has a bead on what’s in the bundles of press/media clippings.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Maybe Rhona Graff knows something about Trump’s desktop and filing habits. I wonder if she will take the stand at the trial involving Tom Barrack. She’s on the witness list, as is Madeleine Westerhout.

        • Rayne says:

          But will Graff willingly testify, and would this even be a subject of questioning in the Barrack case? I’m skeptical.

          I’d really like to know who exactly was handling all the paper on Trump’s desk and other work surfaces during his term in office. Somebody was tasked with making his desk go from this:

          to this for photo ops. Who was it? What did they do with the papers?

          and what papers were on the dining room table, buffet, and credenza on January 6, especially when he had his condiment-throwing tantrum?

        • Savage Librarian says:

          These might be some people to consider. Notice that Westerhout is listed here, as well as on the Tom Barrack witness list. But she did leave the WH by September 2019. Passantino is interesting because I think he initially represented Cassidy Hutchinson.

          “Maloney also asked for White House records on record-keeping and White House records on the destruction of documents by March 17. She specifically asked Ferriero to focus on Trump aides Pat Cipollone, John Kelly, Nicholas Luna, Derek Lyons, Don McGahn, Mark Meadows, Stefan Passantino, Robert Porter, Reince Priebus and Madeleine Westerhout.”
          “Maloney also asked Ferriero to prioritize the production of documents on the destruction of social media records and messages from top aides Andrew Giuliani, Chad Gilmartin, Ivanka Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway, Meadows, and Peter Navarro.”

        • Rayne says:

          I’ll have to backtrack and see when that photo was taken, but I think it predates his term in office. I’m not going to get too excited about it though it does suggest there are boxes of paper elsewhere which may be Trump org alone and not presidential records.

          ADDER: I should note when I went looking for images of Trump’s past desk habits, I started by looking for this one incident which I’d remembered being revelatory about his reaction and his office space.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t think that’s his MAL office. Those are the same wall decorations and desk in the photos of his Tower office.

          His MAL office looks like this:

          The question I have is whether this is his Trump org office or his “45” office since this desk was a facsimile (not a copy) of the Resolute from the Oval Office.

  21. WilliamOckham says:

    Items 16 (Box A-30) and 20 (Box A-22) are fascinating. Lots and lots of clippings for the end of 2017. What’s up with that?

    • Rayne says:

      LOL besides the arrest of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates in October 2017 as well as Mnuchin and Kushner’s trips to KSA that month, and the passage and signing of Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (a.k.a. the Trump Tax Cut)?

    • harpie says:

      November 2017 comes up at least four times in the Danchenko Motion to Dismiss [DURHAM] Marcy writes about today:

      [DANCHENKO MTD:] […] For nearly a year, from January 2017 through November 2017, Mr. Danchenko sat through numerous voluntary FBI interviews and provided hours of truthful information to the government. Four years later, Special Counsel John Durham returned an indictment that alleges Mr. Danchenko knowingly made false statements about two matters

      […] The investigation into the Reports was ultimately completed by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, in or about November 2017 and the Special Counsel’s office closed its entire investigation into possible Trump/Russia collusion in March 2019. […]

  22. doug says:

    I find it strange that nobody is questioning the apparent lack of any system to keep track of and control the spread of Secret and Top Secret documents that go into the White House. It appears to me that nobody even knew the documents were missing until they were sent back. If a document is Top Secret (especially) I would have thought there would be robust procedures to track it’s whereabouts and make sure nobody copied it. This doesn’t seem to be the case.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name; your last comment was under username “DGM.” Your current username “doug” is also not adequately differentiated as we have multiple users “Doug” and “Douglas.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  23. Riktol says:

    When I first heard the boxes had news clippings in, I assumed it was done to disguise the real contents of the boxes from a casual search. But the number of clippings doesn’t seem to relate to the number of government documents, so my theory seems unlikely.
    Also there is a very large range in the number of documents in each box. If they were filled over time and replaced when full, you’d expect them to be filled with a similar number of documents. So either the boxes cover many different topics collectively, or less likely they were replaced randomly before they were full.

  24. Sweet Potato Cynic says:

    I don’t think Trump worries himself about cardboard boxes. My guess is that someone else, like maybe Mark Meadows, removed the post 11/2020 boxes as a way to save Trump from a perceived legal threat. Or perhaps the rescuer also needed to rescue himself as well.

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