Perfect Specimen: Government Records about the Mazars Lawsuit and Trump’s COVID Treatment Would Be Government Records
In her opinion appointing a Special Master in the Trump stolen document case, Judge Aileen Cannon yoked a description of still-sealed information that appears in the privilege review status report to two unrelated mentions about personal effects.
The second factor—whether the movant has an individual interest in and need for the seized property—weighs in favor of entertaining Plaintiff’s requests. According to the Privilege Review Team’s Report, the seized materials include medical documents, correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information [ECF No. 40-2; see also ECF No. 48 p. 18 (conceding that Plaintiff “may have a property interest in his personal effects”)]. The Government also has acknowledged that it seized some “[p]ersonal effects without evidentiary value” and, by its own estimation, upwards of 500 pages of material potentially subject to attorney-client privilege [ECF No. 48 p. 16; ECF No. 40 p. 2]. [my emphasis]
As I laid out here, this passage was shamelessly dishonest. That’s because she treated a subjunctive description of what the government would do if they found “personal effects without evidentiary value” as a concession that they had found such personal effects (in the government’s response she was mangling, they explained why the passports they had already returned to Trump did have evidentiary value). And she double counted materials: she treated the 520 pages of potentially privileged material as a separate item from the references to “medical documents, correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information,” even though those medical and tax documents were in the potentially privileged bucket.
Nowhere in this otherwise dishonest passage, though, did Aileen Cannon claim that the, “medical documents, correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information” were Trump’s own personal documents.
Even Trump, when he tweeted about this, stopped short of claiming these were all documents he owned (though he did claim they had taken “personal Tax Records”).
Nevertheless Cannon’s dishonest reference, yoked as it is to two unrelated references to personal effects, has led people to believe that the medical and tax records on which Cannon based her entire decision to butt into this matter are the personal possessions of Donald Trump.
There is no evidence that’s the case, and lots of reason to believe it’s not.
That’s true, first of all, because unlike the description of the contents of boxes sent to NARA in January (which were described to include “personal records [and] post-presidential records,” the detailed inventory of boxes taken on August 8 doesn’t include such a description.
To be sure: The FBI did seize personal documents. The government’s motion for a stay — written by people who have not seen the materials that Cannon describes as medical and tax records — acknowledges personal records.
Among other things, the government’s upcoming filing will confirm that it plans to make available to Plaintiff copies of all unclassified documents recovered during the search—both personal records and government records—and that the government will return Plaintiff’s personal items that were not commingled with classified records and thus are of likely diminished evidentiary value.
There are personal records: for example, the FBI seized 1,673 press clippings, with a bunch — dated 1995, 2008, 2015, and 2016 — pre-dating Trump’s Presidency, though five of the boxes with some clippings that pre-date Trump’s presidency include documents marked as classified, including one box (A-15) with 32 Secret and Confidential documents, and another (A-14) with a Top Secret document. But when it discusses returning things, it discusses “items.” Those personal items likely include the 19 pieces of clothing or gifts on the inventory (though some of the gifts, if they’re from foreign entities, belong to the US). They also likely include the 33 books that were seized, with 23 seized in one box that contained no documents marked as classified.
The government may be generously agreeing to return a carton of Donny Jr’s shitty books!
And there will be Trump notes. Some of the notes likely will count as personal records under the Presidential Records Act, which include:
A) diaries, journals, or other personal notes serving as the functional equivalent of a diary or journal which are not prepared or utilized for, or circulated or communicated in the course of, transacting Government business;
(B) materials relating to private political associations, and having no relation to or direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President; and
(C) materials relating exclusively to the President’s own election to the office of the Presidency; and materials directly relating to the election of a particular individual or individuals to Federal, State, or local office, which have no relation to or direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.
But some will be presidential records (those may be some of the most interesting fights going forward and it’s the logic Tom Fitton used to push Trump to challenge the seizure of his records). Some of the notes will also be shown to include information otherwise treated as classified.
But the medical and tax records cannot be included among the items referred to here, because Jay Bratt, who wrote the government motion, has not seen the records that include medical and tax records, because they are in the potentially privileged bucket. And among those materials, there’s likely to be fewer such personal records (aside from clippings).
Here are the six inventory items that, based on this Fox report and reading the two inventories together, were initially treated as potentially privileged (two sets of documents have since been added).
Of those, Item 4 on the inventory, described only as “documents” and elsewhere sourced to desk(s) in Trump’s office, makes up over half the records seized in the potentially privileged bucket (leaving aside clippings). It primarily consists of 357 government documents without classification marks.
Notwithstanding that this set of documents originally included Trump’s passports (which are legally government documents), it makes sense that even if there were other boxes that included the stray personal correspondence, this one did not. That’s because these were items taken out of Trump’s desk, not a box taken with all its contents. This set of documents, of which just a fraction could have since been deemed potentially privileged (because there are only 64 sets of potentially privileged documents), is also the set on which the privilege team would have focused most attention on the day of the search.
The privilege team was there, in Trump’s office, to weed out really obviously sensitive documents.
Plus, there are ready explanations for what kinds of government documents might include, “medical documents, correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information.”
First, as President, Trump had a White House physician. White House physician Ronny Jackson’s records of his ties to Trump would amount to government records. Even the paperwork behind this famously batshit press conference would be government records — and it might explain why Trump proclaimed (in his Tweet) that these records would prove he was a “Perfect Specimen.”
But there are other medical records that Trump might be more likely to stash in his desk drawer, which might also involve lawyers: his COVID diagnosis (and the reckless decision to attend a presidential debate, exposing Joe Biden to the disease), any assumption of Presidential duties by Mike Pence, the infection of numerous people with COVID at the Amy Coney Barrett roll-out, the Secret Service fly-by when Trump returned to the White House, and the decision to seek FDA approval for his access to Regeneron. The records relating to Trump’s bout with COVID by itself could fill a box. And they’re the kind of records that he would — indeed, already has — fought hard to keep from public dissemination.
Similarly, there are known documents that generated reams of government records pertaining to, “correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information.” Two involve the various efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns from his accounting firm, Mazars, and extended efforts to investigate Trump Organization’s violation of the emoluments clause with Trump International Hotel.
This OLC memo ruling that the Treasury Department should blow off the House Ways and Means Committee request for Trump’s tax returns relates to taxes. This DOJ amicus brief weighing in on the same fight is a government document about taxes and accounting information. All correspondence generating the documents, too, would relate to taxes and accounting information. All would be government documents. Lawyers would have been involved in all parts of the process. All are the kinds of records Trump might stash in his desk drawer and refuse to turn over.
Similarly, this IG Report describes how the General Services Administration ignored how the Emoluments Clause should impact concerns about management of the Old Post Office. The Report itself references both lease (that is, accounting) information and redacted discussions among GSA and other lawyers. It discusses inadequate efforts after the inauguration to shield Trump from management of the hotel, including several discussions of lawyers for Trump Org and his spawn. It’s a government document. It — and all the legal correspondence and lease information it references — would become government documents. It’s another example of the kind of thing that would be a government record addressing accounting records that nevertheless might trigger privilege concerns.
I’m not saying these are the records at issue. I’m saying there’s a long list of known squabbles that would 1) consist of government records 2) involve tons of lawyering 3) would be the kind of thing Trump would want to hoard, and 4) would fit the low standard of potentially privileged as described by the filter lawyers.
There’s one more reason — besides her false treatment of a subjunctive consideration as a concession and her double counting — to suspect that Cannon created a deliberate misunderstanding that these were documents belonging to the former President: The emphasis with which filter attorney Anthony Lacosta focus on her unilateral treatment of still-sealed information in their motion to unseal their status report. The motion describes two ways in which details from the still-sealed filter team report were made public: First, after asking permission to do so and getting the assent of Trump lawyer Jim Trusty, filter attorney Benjamin Hawk described the filter process. Then, without unsealing the report, Cannon’s several references to the still-sealed report in her own opinion. With two of those references (page 15 and footnote 13 on the same page), Cannon described investigative agents finding something that might be privileged and turning it over immediately to the filter team.
To begin, the Government’s argument assumes that the Privilege Review Team’s initial screening for potentially privileged material was sufficient, yet there is evidence from which to call that premise into question here. See In re Sealed Search Warrant & Application for a Warrant by Tel. or Other Reliable Elec. Means, 11 F.4th at 1249–51; see also Abbell, 914 F. Supp. at 520 (appointing a special master even after the government’s taint attorney already had reviewed the seized material). As reflected in the Privilege Review Team’s Report, the Investigative Team already has been exposed to potentially privileged material. Without delving into specifics, the Privilege Review Team’s Report references at least two instances in which members of the Investigative Team were exposed to material that was then delivered to the Privilege Review Team and, following another review, designated as potentially privileged material [ECF No. 40 p. 6]. Those instances alone, even if entirely inadvertent, yield questions about the adequacy of the filter review process.13
13 In explaining these incidents at the hearing, counsel from the Privilege Review Team characterized them as examples of the filter process working. The Court is not so sure. These instances certainly are demonstrative of integrity on the part of the Investigative Team members who returned the potentially privileged material. But they also indicate that, on more than one occasion, the Privilege Review Team’s initial screening failed to identify potentially privileged material. The Government’s other explanation—that these instances were the result of adopting an over-inclusive view of potentially privileged material out of an abundance of caution—does not satisfy the Court either. Even accepting the Government’s untested premise, the use of a broad standard for potentially privileged material does not explain how qualifying material ended up in the hands of the Investigative Team. Perhaps most concerning, the Filter Review Team’s Report does not indicate that any steps were taken after these instances of exposure to wall off the two tainted members of the Investigation Team [see ECF No. 40]. In sum, without drawing inferences, there is a basis on this record to question how materials passed through the screening process, further underscoring the importance of procedural safeguards and an additional layer of review. See, e.g., In re Grand Jury Subpoenas, 454 F.3d 511, 523 (6th Cir. 2006) (“In United States v. Noriega, 764 F. Supp. 1480 (S.D. Fla. 1991), for instance, the government’s taint team missed a document obviously protected by attorney-client privilege, by turning over tapes of attorney-client conversations to members of the investigating team. This Noriega incident points to an obvious flaw in the taint team procedure: the government’s fox is left in charge of the appellants’ henhouse, and may err by neglect or malice, as well as by honest differences of opinion.”).
As Hawk explained (and she ignored) in the hearing, one of these instances involved nothing more than seeing the name of a law firm. The second he struggled to explain, but it was clear he really doesn’t think it’s privileged.
In the second instance, Your Honor, again, I think this is being personally over inclusive in an abundance of caution recognizing the circumstances that we find ourselves in, the second instance was again an item generally speaking — Your Honor, if you can give me a moment just to think on how to frame this.
The second instance was an item where a case team attorney saw that there might be — saw that there might be — saw that there were — bottom line is, Your Honor, I do not believe this information is privileged, but I still want to be respectful, and I want respect the process and Counsel’s opportunity to assert, but it was an instance where, I believe in my view, the case team attorney was exercising extreme caution in identifying a document that could potentially include privileged information and so, exercising that caution, gave it to the case team — or gave it to privilege review team to review, and that Your Honor, as counsel —
And while Hawk doesn’t directly address it, another place where Aileen Cannon unilaterally used information from the privilege review team report is in her claim that there were medical and tax records in the seized materials (see the bolded attribution, above).
Lacosta points to Judge Cannon’s asymmetrical reliance on this information in his motion to unseal the report.
Here, there is no compelling interest in maintaining the sealed status of the Filter Notice in this case, particularly in light of the Court’s reference to it in the Court’s Order appointing a special master. (DE:64 at 6, 15, & n.13.) Moreover, the United States has an interest in the Filter Notice being a part of the public record in this case and thereby equally available to all of the litigants in this matter.
This is a very subtle way of saying that for Bratt to litigate this issue, he needs to have the same information that both Trusty and Cannon are exploiting in their arguments. And, frankly, the public does too, because Cannon is quite clearly flipping normal investigative procedure on its head (again), granting the former President privileges that no criminal suspect in the United States gets.
Judge Cannon has, explicitly, turned the diligence of the investigative team into proof of harm. And because she has engaged in that kind of dishonesty, and because her reference to medical and tax records not only doesn’t deny these are government records, but also accompanies two other dishonest claims (the double counting and the treatment of a subjunctive statement as a concession), we should be very wary to read this claim as anything other than the public record suggests: that these are government records that involve some legal dispute.
Trump chose to use the levers of government to gain financial advantage and because of that there are years and years of government documents that involve legal disputes about his own personal and corporate finances. It should not surprise anyone that some of those materials were in boxes at Mar-a-Lago or stashed in his desk drawer. They are among the secrets he has most jealously guarded.
And unless and until Judge Cannon unseals that report about which she and Trump made asymmetric claims, we should not assume good faith on her part.
Update: Given Peterr’s question about my comment about notes, I elaborated on what I meant and the standard for personal notes under the Presidential Records Act.
Cannon may as well say 99% of the Warren Report should be locked up.
I think there’s a typo here. Don’t you meant that some of the notes will count as *presidential*records? If the DOJ concludes they will count as personal records under PRA, there would be no fights about them, interesting or otherwise.
Also, if Trump took notes on non-classified docs during his presidency, those would be Presidential records — a distinction that Trump is probably clueless about and would claim that these are private personal notes.
I’ve elaborated further on what I was trying to say, including the PRA language on personal notes. Does that help?
It helped me!
Thank you both!
Me too. Thanks.
It helps somewhat, but still leaves my second comment unaddressed.
Suppose you’ve got a non-classified government document on which Trump wrote in the margins “Got to get this to Roger and Rudy quietly, so they can exploit it for November.”
By the language you quoted, it would appear that the note itself is a personal note, commenting on political (not presidential) matters — but by writing it down *on a government document* and not in a private diary or separate letter, Trump has made his personal notes part of a presidential document.
Of course, he would claim otherwise, but there’s no way that simply putting a note on a government document converts it from a presidential record into a private diary.
I *think* “notes” refers only to notes a person takes on separate pieces of paper that can be construed as personal in character. Annotating a printed, public document as you describe seems very different from keeping a private diary or reminder list. Though I suppose an insistent lawyer could gum up the works for a month or so by pounding on the table and citing irrelevant precedents.
It would be one thing if Judge Cannon was in new legal territory here, but she is not either because of precedent, black-letter law (much of it tested legally as well) or rules of court procedure. The near-universal scorn regarding her opinion across the non-MAGA legal spectrum cites many of these as has EW and our legal contributors. It also did not help her point to lie about several key aspects that buttressed her opinion (i.e. Biden did withdraw EP for FPOTUS formally). Perhaps she will do better in her reply to DoJ’s motion posted yesterday.
As for the papers / items / schlock being government property and/or subject to NARA control Cannon needs to be able to explain why Individual-1 has exclusive ownership of these items when black-letter law clearly says otherwise. 100 years ago, this set of papers would not even be a discussion, but it’s the law now and probably time to reinforce any existing precedents.
Olympic gymnast’s can’t display rotation and twist as well as Aileen Cannon’s opinion on special master.
“That’s because she treated a subjunctive description of what the government would do if they found “personal effects without evidentiary value” as a concession that they had found such personal effects (in the government’s response she was mangling, they explained why the passports they had already returned to Trump did have evidentiary value).”.
Because scanning through piles of mosquitoes is a very similar skill set to copy editing: typo!
TY. That’s a funny one!
It’s the least I could do! I’ve also found it comes in handy while coding. Gotta figure out where the “bugs” are!
Today is the 75th anniversary of the first computer bug which was an actual bug (a moth). Although the term bug had long been used to describe problems with hardware, as far as we know, this is the first recorded computer bug that was a bug. And although Grace Hopper wasn’t there, she delighted in telling the story. I was lucky enough to hear her tell it in person.
Now that explains why I found cedar chips inside an old hp oracle server which took up more square feet than I do.
Usually, the air particulate is the only thing collected inside the computer cases.
One of my mentors informed me that a “stack overflow error” was literally the overflowing of mechanical punchcards in the computation machine.
I’ve worked with some old Fortran 77 code exactly one time, and it still gives me nightmares. Python, please! I’m spoiled.
You just brought back a nightmare memory for me, 1:30 AM, exact date fuzzy, GWU “Computer Lab”.
‘Another piece of progress to be grateful for.
(Also I really came here to read and thank Marcy, again.)
Haven’t used Fortran in years, and it wasn’t 77. But it could do a lot, if you knew how. (Heap sort, non-recursive, in Fortran. Only time I found a real use for an arithmetic IF.)
Ugh. I learned to program in Fortran77 using IBM-29 punch card machines. Those mercifully disappeared while I was still an undergrad. Bad memories!
No such luck for me… I coded FORTRAN IV on a Philco 2000. This machine took up most of a fairly large room with all of it’s peripherals and had a whopping 32K of memory.
There’s a photo of the moth, taped in the log book.
(I was pleased to see that the NWS SF/Monterey office is on Grace Hopper Ave.)
Thanks for the mention of Grace Hopper as it caused me to look her up on wiki – a fascinating person of great, unusual and invaluable accomplishment.
“Trump chose to use the levers of government to gain financial advantage and because of that there are years and years of government documents that involve legal disputes about his own personal and corporate finances.”
Yes, and I bet he could have gotten away with it had he not been so greedy as to choose to retain National Defense Information alongside the rest. He’s a tragic figure, in a way.
I think ‘tragicomic’ would be more accurate here…
He’s too ridiculous a character to be just tragic…
Nothing Trump is ever funny. We should gift to him Russian citizenship and rescind his citizenship in the states and send him to Putin gift wrapped.
“…first as tragedy, then as farce.”
The medical stuff needs to be divided into two separate discussions.
First, there may be medical records — notes of Trump’s vitals, symptoms, diseases, treatments, etc. — that are indeed protected. These may be covered by HIPAA, and also protected by more general doctor/patient confidentiality. Unlike the lawyers in the Office of the White House Counsel who serve the Office of the Presidency, the WH medical folks serve the person of the President (and others) as their patients.
Second, there may be discussions of how Trump’s medical issues affect his ability to do his job, how they affect political dynamics in the context of elections like participation in presidential debates, and how they affect public policy discussions like COVID regulations. Like attorney/client privilege, if there are documents that discuss Trump’s health that are circulated beyond Trump and his medical folks (i.e., that include the chief of staff or political advisors), then the doctor/patient privilege disappears. And of course, HIPAA does not apply to these discussions either.
Yup. And for some reason she didn’t raise HIPAA, and neither did Trump.
HIPAA doesn’t apply when there’s a valid warrant or subpoena. The normal procedures followed in grand jury investigations are sufficient to protect the person’s privacy. There would be no need for a filter team or special master with regard to Trump’s personal health information.
Spent a good bit of time as law enforcement-hospital liaison.
HIPAA was written to protect patients and/or clients from release of certain information to insurance companies. HIPAA regulations only apply to the covered entities, the medical providers and insurance companies. The providers are super careful and get you to sign a release each time you go to the doctor.
Because providers might lose accreditation and thus money, they go overboard to protect information. In general, once the information has left the covered entities HIPAA does not apply. Other protections may exist.
To assist law enforcement with obtaining info, each state has clarifying language. In the medical setting LE may access certain information as regards to certain, but not all crimes. As an example, a suspected burglar’s health information on his appendectomy is not disclosed but details of the giant gash on his arm that he got from breaking a plate window likely will be.
It is important to know what the state regulations are. Law enforcement may gain access with a search warrant or consent as you note.
Here is an easy-to-follow description of HIPAA and interface with law enforcement:
Thanks for that. Helpful.
Well, that was an interesting point now that you mention it. The utility of the medical information is quite limited (even regarding the infamous COVID exposure for TFG) since much of it is in the past and no longer operational for leverage.
What might be a problem is if the medical records contain references to prior and/or pre-existing conditions of a significantly embarrassing nature, for which there are lots of theories swirling around the Web purporting to explain some of Individual-1’s more erratic behaviors among other gauche possibilities. Those kinds of documents would definitely have significant blackmail value against a narcissist, and should be classified if the narcissist is FPOTUS.
Hmmm…maybe a new hush-hush classification category is called for: TS/SNI – Top Secret/Sensitive Narcissistic Information. The enclosing folder would have a photo of the subject on the cover.
“Why the heck was Rudy at Walter Reed that day? He didn’t mention going to the hospital in his deposition or testimony to the grand jury… hmm, he did make a phone call though…who else was there that day?” —theoretical question arising from metadata…
Medical records could help pinpoint where someone was in time; appointments, examinations, stint at a hospital or clinic, etc. In fact, comparing gathered metadata with times and dates in medical records could also help build a picture of who was near or around a particular individual at a certain time. There are other reasons why investigators might need this info in criminal or counter intelligence investigations, etc.
My spidey sense is telling me you are correct Empy!
Isn’t Perfect Specimen the same guy who demanded Obama’s full birth certificate? And now he’s worried about personal information?
OT, but perhaps a peek into what might happen in a more objective court: The conspiracy and racketeering suit against HRC was rejected by Judge Middleton (also SDFL) who had some unpleasant remarks regarding the 200-page screed filed by Habba, et al. In fact, he was hinting at sanctions against the plaintiff’s legal team who allegedly (very much unconfirmed) tried to get Cannon but was assigned Middleton instead. They should have checked with Popehat or bmaz about the RICO claim first since it isn’t RICO until both say it is.
Akiva Cohen has a long thread on Middleton’s decision:
Thanks for posting this link…I don’t use Twitter, so I wouldn’t have seen it.
Took a while to get through it all, but that was a great read!
gracias, PJ. i was reading elsewhere.
akiva is like ‘the whistling detective’ – showing us how to enjoy what
is preposterous by making it all funny. seriously.
Not only, “lolyers” but, “local clownsel”!
GOP pols, never again refer to “activist” judges after Cannon’s order/ruling and expect anything but derision from reasonable folks. Cannon is not stupid; this was deliberate and was the best she could to do in light of team Trump’s nonsensical pleadings to-date. The DOJ reply was ruthlessly accurate on the facts and precedent (which Cannon misstated) and I am here for it 100%.
OT: if the DoJ can track every judicial appointment, including judge Cannon, why wasn’t there a plan to break out of SDFL as soon as the SW was productive? They had to know she was an option that the claimant could exploit.
” . . . the best she could do,” rather, as a judicial nominee rated as “unqualified” to be confirmed and serve?
“The American Bar Association rated Cannon qualified by a substantial majority and well qualified by a minority for the position.”
Cannon may be a dumpster fire, and she is, but don’t spoof people here. Cannon was rated as “qualified” to “well qualified” by the ABA. It strikes me people here are starting to think qualifications to be a judge dovetail with positions you believe in. That is not how it works, not how it ever has.
The ABA seriously dropped the ball on this one too!
The ABA assesses legal education and practice experience. It does not assess political views or affiliation. That’s for Congress and the Executive.
As with most FedSoc candidates, Cannon kept a low political profile before gaining a seat on the federal bench. With this judgment, she has raised that profile.
Or are the ABA “qualification” standards not just to your post hoc standards?
It’s not like the ABA is afraid to rate judges as ‘Not Qualified’ since it’s been an issue with other GOP appointments. Judge Cannon’s problem here is that she’s a party hack.
How did the US flag get there?
It’s on her right. Symmetry?
Properly displayed, the US flag should always be in the position of honor to the right of any subjects as they face an audience.
How droll that humor is a funny thing.
DOJ apparently suffers from too much honesty.
They should have said “All the material seen by the investigation team was determined not to be attorney client privileged, and the investigation team has demonstrated it is alert for potential breaches.” and left it at that. Never volunteer information to an auditor.
I think being subtle with this judge is a bad idea, it provides space for her to ignore the issues and claim ignorance.
The arguments the DoJ is making before Cannon now are not meant for her: they are setting up arguments for appeal, and making clear to Cannon what’s likely to happen to her decision on appeal. Not every supporter wants to fall on her sword in the first battle.
While pausing over the rabbit hole:
In Trump social media post from midweek:
“… they also improperly took my complete and highly confidential medical file and history, with all the bells and whistles…”
I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion this “medical file” contains information on Trump’s own health. It COULD be pages removed from stolen classified government documents on other foreign and domestic leaders health status from intelligence reports, human sources and intercepts, mixed in with Trump personal handwritten notes, news clippings and ephemera to later stymie criminal prosecution pursuing Espionage Act violations. So, it is possible Judge Cannon was wrong in her Sept. 5 Order about the evidentiary value of the “medical file”.
Trump’s intent in the social media post COULD be trying to rile the MAGA followers with outrage, praising Judge Cannon for including reference to Trump “medical file” in her Order, entrap the press with another red herring and/or thumb his nose at the JD and ODNI with a veiled threat of graymail.
Thanks for the great reporting and analysis. Just wanted to add another possibility.
Perhaps information on the health of a certain foreign dictator (putin) who is rumored to be quite ill?
I have no actual knowledge. I’d start from Trump’s reported interests. The Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as a source of dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden’s medical, drug and deals gone bad problems. That quid pro quo was to be for US taxpayer funded arms(Trump’s first impeachment). FOX News, Breitbart et al had these alleged Biden family scandals on high repetition, which according to Trump alumnus, John Bolton(ex National Security Advisor) and the so-called liberal media reports, was where Trump got his intelligence briefings. According to Bolton’s book, CIA Director Haspel just plowed through the PDB and hoped Trump would absorb some of it.
In a Sept. 2, 2022 press interview John Bolton is quoted, “Well, to the extent that the newspaper clippings were treated like most people in this country would treat newspaper clippings, it shows a real disdain for the seriousness of the classification at issue. In most offices, you would have a very clear segregation of the sensitive classified material locked in safes handled very carefully versus all the unclassified material. This to me is more evidence that Donald Trump didn’t give much attention to the sensitivity of the classified information.”
“Often, the president would say, ‘Well, can I keep this?’ And in my experience, the intelligence briefers most often would say, ‘Well sir, we’d prefer to take that back,'” Bolton said. “But sometimes they forgot.”
Or maybe Trump’s “complete and highly confidential medical file” consists of a snotty kleenex and one lint-covered Tic Tac.
I hope someone responds to this one. (And I hope not by biting!) But something EW wrote here worries me a lot.
It’s this: “materials relating exclusively to the President’s own election to the office of the Presidency” are considered personal belongings rather than presidential records. That makes sense, usually, since the politics of electioneering have nothing to do with governing. BUT:
Would it be possible to construct a legal argument to the effect that everything related to the post-election pseudo-investigations, lawsuits, and especially the fake elector scheme, were part of the process of campaigning – and therefore must be returned & not used in the prosecution? Yes, that sounds crazy, but scheming to set up fake slates of electors really doesn’t have anything to do with governing the country/acting as president.
That would have Hatch Act implications maybe? Haven’t heard a peep about Hatch Act violation investigations these past 18 months really. RIP Hatch Act?
To the extent that WH staff members participated, I guess they would be vulnerable under the Hatch Act. But you’d need evidence, and if the papers were deemed TFG’s personal property, they would not be available to DoJ. Would need to start from scratch, and still unlikely to each TFG himself.
Are Anthony Acosta (referenced in the Tactics of the DOJ post) and Anthony Lacosta (mentioned here) two different people?
I’ve googled them and it appears both are the same person, named Anthony Lacosta.
Thanks, Alan. I googled both names too, first to see if Anthony Acosta was related to Trump’s cabinet secretary, then to determine that Lacosta is correct.
But the name still stands as Acosta on EW’s post re: DOJ tactics.