The Claimed 200,000 Pages Trump Stole Include Press Clippings

Yesterday, Trump filed the complaints he had originally filed under seal as well as another bid to delay the Special Master process.

I’ll return to both. But I want to look at the basis Trump offers to request a delay: that the documents seized from Trump amount to 200,000 pages.

At the status conference before the Special Master, the Plaintiff suggested that the dates put forth in the Draft Case Management Plan were unlikely to prove feasible in terms of both the likely start of the document flow and the man-hours necessary to review more than 11,000 pages or documents. Indeed, the Plaintiff suggested that a rough rule of thumb in document reviews is 50 pages per hour. Building into his calculations the review and categorization of the filter team documents; the successful recruitment, retention, and start-up operation of a data vendor; and the requisite review and categorization of that many documents led the Plaintiff to suggest mid-October as a completion date. Government counsel assured Your Honor that a minimal adjustment of “a couple of days” was all that was needed, but that otherwise the Plan was perfectly acceptable.

Trump has, so far, never shied away from spinning the facts. And this is the first filing made without Chris Kise’s signature, increasing the likelihood of shenanigans.

This universe of documents reflects the contents of 27 boxes plus the contents of Trump’s desk drawer (ignoring the 520 pages of potentially privileged documents, some of which came from the desk drawers, and all but one email of which Trump has had for 13 days). If the 200,000 number were accurate, every box and the drawer would have, on average, over 7,000 pages of documents, which is far more than even a large case of paper would include (10 reams of paper at 500 pages each, or 5,000). And some of these boxes include books (33 altogether) and clothing or gifts (19 total), which would fill space really quickly.

But even assuming that someone in government told him that the 27 boxes of documents plus the contents of Trump’s desk drawer amount to 200,000 pages of material, even assuming Trump would need to review every page of every government document he stole, this is still misleading.

That’s because the boxes also include clippings, up to 121 in a box, for 1,671 total. A typical news article printed out can run 10 pages or more (recall that Trump’s White House cut his NYT subscription). One “clipping” — in box 27 — spans over four years, July 2016 to September 2020.

This is not a single newspaper article. It might well be an entire blog or website, printed out.

And if these boxes resemble the ones delivered to NARA at all, they are largely clippings, with documents interspersed.

The NARA Referral stated that according to NARA’s White House Liaison Division Director, a preliminary review of the FIFTEEN BOXES indicated that they contained “newspapers, magazines, printed news articles, photos, miscellaneous print-outs, notes, presidential correspondence, personal and post-presidential records, and ‘a lot of classified records.”

In other words, there’s a lot of fluff in these boxes. Fluff that will not need extensive review, because they’ve been seized because they help investigators understand the other items in those boxes.

And Trump is using that fluff to draw out the Special Master process.

56 replies
  1. Unabogie says:

    So to get this straight, Trump is claiming to have declassified everything in these boxes, but at the same time saying that months of diligent searching would be required to know what was in them? Do I have that about right?

    • paul lukasiak says:

      From my reading of the letter, Trump is asserting that there are a lot more pages of documents to examine than just 11,000. The 200,000 pages number is, according to the letter, based on a conversation with DoJ lawyers. (” the Government mentioned that the 11,000 documents contain closer to 200,000 pages”) which Trump’s lawyers subsequently referred to as “roughly 200,000 pages”.

      And Trump’s lawyers are asserting that the volume of pages they need to process (not just scan into an electronic formal, but include Bates numbers on each page, etc, in a very compressed timeline is the main reason why vendors are reluctant to take on the job.

      Trump’s lawyers also noted that, because they have no access to the classified materials, that they cannot ‘verify’ the accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory (regardless of other considerations). Its a good point, but one that would have been better served simply by asking that the verification process exclude any ‘verification’ of the claims regarding classified materials.

    • timbo says:

      It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to keep slowing down the DOJ and the country in criminal conspiracy nonsense long enough to avoid legal consequences for Trump and his lawyers, etc.

  2. joel fisher says:

    If he alleged with any knowledge that things were planted, he knew at the time of the allegation what the “plants” were. Of course, there were no plants and Trump’s ass needs to sit down in a witness chair and answer this question: “WTF were you talking about with the “plants” allegation?” He’s going try and dismiss–“The Special Master is part of the witch hunt!”–and the future SCOTUS pick is going to help him. I need some likker to calm down.

    • timbo says:

      What he will do is say that he has no way of knowing whether or not some of this stuff was planted. And anyone could say that at trial. The thing is this—there seems to be evidence that he was aware of specific classified documents, etc, that were pertinent to a subpoena he ignored. That’s what has to be understood to make a case and sense out of what Team Twitler is trying to pull here. They’re trying to avoid him having to make statements in front of a grand jury, or, after indictment (if any), when he’s on trial for criminal conspiracy. Hopefully DOJ is capable of frying this fish…so far they’re not batting 1.000 on this though.

  3. bidrec says:

    It is a characteristic of Roy Cohn’s friends that they care about press clippings:

    The Duchess of Windsor: “‘Can you please tell me who Marilyn Monroe’s publicity agent is?’
    Pick said he had to confess he had no idea and asked why she wanted to know.
    ‘Look,’ Mrs Simpson said, ‘I have all the newspapers each day and I was generally on the front page. But now I see that Marilyn Monroe is on the front page. Well, somebody has pushed me off!’”

  4. Amicus says:

    It’s all such crap. Even if it is 200K pages, that is not that big a deal: you hire someone with high-speed scanning capabilities, you hire contract paralegals or attorneys if you need them, you provide them the search designation criteria, whole thing can be done in the space of a week or two, if you want to do it. And the documents are electronically searchable so you can double check on any specific criteria. Anyone who has been involved in civil discovery knows this playbook: the objecting side does not want to produce. All the same nonsense: we need more time; you’re asking for information we should not have to provide or not in that format; we’re going back to the decision maker to object or get clarification yada yada. What does this get them? DOJ is using the marked classified documents to conduct its investigation, so there is no delay on that end. Eventually, the 11th Circuit rules and Cannon turns into a pumpkin, and likely all her rulings as well. It’s a way to retreat: provoke the Special Master into rulings that afford Cannon the basis to remove him, or force the court into dismissing the case (unlikely but who knows), or wait things out until the 11th Circuit rules and then decide if that is the time to go the Supreme Court, all the while complaining about the unfairness of it all. One thing worth noting in their two submissions is the repeated contention that “we haven’t waived” any rights. It’s a pretty clear tell that they are worried and know they have picked a litigation pathway that is not likely to give them the rulings they want, and they want to preserve those arguments for other proceedings. This is performative yes, but with the added hope of some Hail Mary rulings. That hope is evaporating.

    • Tom-1812 says:

      Just a kindly meant word of advice, Amicus, but my aging eyeballs slide right over big blocks of unparagraphed text such as yours above.

      • ScorpioJones, III says:

        Bmaz beat me to it, but…Lordy, lordy…would that every writer understood the need to break paragraphs liberally, Thomas Wolfe would be impossible to read on the web.

        Old newspaper writers get this pretty well.

        Long columns of nine-point type were and are hard as hell to stay focused on.

        Lawyers, apparently, disagree.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        Well, Tom-1812, you won’t be the high-speed scanner Amicus dreams of, then.

        Truly, the 50-pages-per-hour estimate seems more realistic, since large portions of the documents will actually need to be read. So if we assume a 11,000 pages, that’s 220 hours of professional time. At $500 per hour (was that the rate?), $110,000 out of pocket for TFG. If it really was 200,000 pages, he’d would be on the hook for 4,000 hours, or $2,000,000. Almost makes you wish it were so!

        • ssatty says:

          Contracted doc reviewers are actually far cheaper — probably $50 an hour per reviewer, plus the cost of a project manager to oversee things. I believe that the $500/hr rate was for the judge who is being brought in to support Judge Dearie’s work.

          There is typically additional work above and beyond the initial doc review that isn’t accounted for. Trump’s lawyers will probably also want to perform some quality control review to ensure they didn’t miss anything. And for anything that they think is privileged, they will need to generate a “privilege log” which is essentially a spreadsheet listing each privileged document and the reason it is privileged.

          In many litigation settings the sides meet and confer to work these things out but in this instance they couldn’t come to the type of agreement that would have made this process easier. Ultimately the judge is going to impose a deadline and it’s the plaintiff’s responsibility to meet it. Discovery is often pretty expensive but this is what Trump asked for.

        • timbo says:

          Expect Cannon to tell DOJ to proceed with paying for all this and then end up ruling that Trump can stiff them? Just sayin.

            • Alan Charbonneau says:

              I think he was referring to the fact that Trump said the five document-review vendors turned him down. The DOJ expects Trump to “pay the vendor’s invoices promptly when rendered”

              As to his comment that DOJ goes ahead with hiring a vendor and then Cannon rules the DOJ cannot charge Trump, that seems ludicrous, regardless of the horrible quality of her rulings.

            • timbo says:

              Orenstein is charging for his work. And then there’s the reproduction of all the documents. It’s part of Dearie’s negotation with Trump’s lawyers and part of Cannon’s order.

    • Nick Barnes says:

      If it’s 200k pages, at the Plaintiff’s “50 pages per hour” rule of thumb, that’s only 4,000 hours. At 40 hours per week for 3 weeks, that’s only about 30 people.
      As it is, it’s probably more like 30-40k pages, so they only need a team of 6 or 7.

      • Amicus says:

        The “50 pages per hour” estimate strikes me as absurd – you are looking at documents and making a handful of determinations on a document level basis, not reading text line-by-line.

        • ssatty says:

          It’s not an unreasonable estimate for a document review. On most English language document reviews, 50-60 docs/hr is a reasonable benchmark PER REVIEWER. Typically you could hire contractors to review and scale up enough people that they could complete the work in short order. Because the confidential information is not under review, they can probably hire up several contractors to perform the review.

          There are also some technology related processes that you can apply. For instance, you can run search terms to cull down the data set. Document review platforms also include machine learning tools allowing you to design an AI model that prioritizes review of potentially relevant documents, and when the relevance rate drops, you can statistically validate the amount of remaining documents of interest.

          The couple of challenges here are 1) these documents are scanned and even when applying optical character recognition (OCR) to identify text, the electronically searchable text is often poor quality; and 2) attorney-client privilege is often determined by certain factors that may not be easily searchable, so text-based searching and AI models may perform poorly.

  5. Mister Sterling says:

    Dearie is not going to tolerate this. Trump is running out of delay tactics. And a lot of attempts at further delays have led to critical own-goals. He can spin this publicly however he we wants in his fundraising. But the courts are going to have the Special Master work wrapped up more or less on-schedule.

    • timbo says:

      Dearie is going to work with what he can for now. I wouldn’t be surprised that Dearie gets appointed to handle this whole case if Cannon gets booted from it. Don’t know if that’s possible but given how things have proceeded so far, it might not be outside the realm of possibility?

  6. Tom-1812 says:

    There’s something kind of quaint about the idea of someone cutting out press clippings in the third decade of the 21st century.

    • bidrec says:

      There is a video of a Trump deposition on line where Trump complains about the time. When he is told that his watch is wrong he starts fiddling with it. David Corn, narrating, says, “Wait a minute. Is he wearing a watch you have to wind?”

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        I love my wind-up watch! No battery to worry about replacing. I get up in the morning, give it a few twirls, and I’m good to go.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        There are fine and expensive watches that are still manually wound, and that’s before you get to collectors’ watches.

        • bmaz says:

          The most inaccurate watches I ever owned (still have one somewhere) were “self winding” Rolexes. The manual winding one I described (not a Rolex) is perfect when wound. If leave it sit too long, you just have to reset it. It is actually a wonderful piece.

    • bjet says:

      Melania quite likely did a fair share of that ‘clipping.’ Her daily gig on the 2015-16 campaign was scouring the press for “bad tings” to do something about.

      She had better luck with that in UK, with it’s crap free press laws, and would in Europe in general, even before EU passed it’s ‘right to be forgotten’ law, which was before Trump was elected. I’d bet a pretty penny she kept clippings of those she succeeded in burying offline. Like scalps.

      She speaks five languages; I wouldn’t assume all of those ‘clippings’ were printed in our quite possibly soon-to be quaint English lingua franca, or even our alphabet.

  7. P J Evans says:

    I have a box with a 5-volume set of [softbound] books in it: more than 3900 pages, and it’s a *heavy* box. No way are those boxes from the August collection that many pages.

    • Nick Barnes says:

      Right. A sheet of office paper weighs 5g (thats A4 at 80gsm, but that weird “letter” size they use in the US is about the same, at the 20lb “letter” weight). So 200k sheets is exactly one metric ton. Across 33 boxes would be 30 kg per box, which [in the weird archaic units they use in the US] is over 66 pounds. This is clearly overstated by a factor of perhaps 5.
      What’s happened here is that someone at DOJ has said “well, some of these documents are more than just one page, some might be as many as 20 pages”.

  8. Tetman Callis says:

    Upon reviewing the government’s Revised Detailed Property Inventory (Case 9:22-cv-81294-AMC, Document 116-1, Entered on FLSD Docket 09/26/2022), I wondered, why did Trump have these documents ordered in the manner the inventory reveals? The answer to that question is not evident. I know that speculative answers are not favored in these precincts, but I would ask of you your forbearance for a few moments.

    I considered it likely, based on the evidence about the man that is available, that he does very little that is not oriented to his financial and psychological gains, and usually some conflation of the both. How could his organization of the documents reflect that? It occurred to me that what we were glimpsing was the preliminary organization of his private, for-profit presidential library, ordered around events of some importance to him. Admission to this library would be fee-based, of course, and those who paid the highest fees would be eligible to review the most secure and classified documents in the library’s collection, arranged in contexts of such items as news reports, photographs, and other material artifacts that portrayed Trump in the most favorable light.

  9. Peterr says:

    In other words, there’s a lot of fluff in these boxes. Fluff that will not need extensive review, because they’ve been seized because they help investigators understand the other items in those boxes.

    From the Special Master’s POV and the Team Trump POV, these are indeed fluff.

    But from the POV of the Intelligence Community’s review, they may be much more than that, as they will help determine Trump’s frame of mind. Why did he save these clippings? When did he save them? Why did he store *these* clippings next to *those* documents?

    The review of these clippings may bring some insight into documents — especially if Trump wrote the documents or Trump wrote comments in the margins of the documents — that could be very helpful in determining what kind of damage to our intelligence assets Trump caused.

    And as I said on my earlier post about the review, that will be expensive in both time and money.

    • Nick Barnes says:

      For exactly this reason, you can be sure the FBI know exactly what order the documents were in each box, especially which ones were adjacent or close to the classified documents. Maybe they video’d the unboxing?

    • rosalind says:

      ot-ish for Peterr: after 10 years, i finally touched everything in every family history box. i quickly learned to keep everything in the same order/box for this exact reason: there was often a reason that took me sometimes years to understand why certain letters/docs/photos were kept together.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What caught my eye was the snark Trusty used to describe the government’s claimed incompetence, compared to his team’s Ginormous practicality and [so far undisplayed] experience in complex litigation. Guffaw.

    That sort of thing is meant to draw out emotional responses, which can distract from more important things, or elicit a response, say, from Dearie, that plaintiff can claim exhibits bias. I think it also hides that plaintiff’s got nothin’, although Trump – the intended reader of these things – would interpret it as having balls, something he seems to know little about.

  11. Thomas says:

    Some observations.

    1. Only WaPo claims to have a source confirming for them that the classified documents include nuclear weapons information (at first) and then, the nuclear weapons information from a foreign country.

    My first impression of that particular detail is that the source is Trump himself, and that it is false.

    The DOJ has vehemently denied that they have leaked any of the information about the documents, and this should be believed.

    Trump has used this “leaking against himself” ploy many times in the past.

    The purpose of this tactic is clear. Trump and his allies have sneeringly dismissed the “nuclear information allegation” in the rightwing press. When it is revealed that the information is not nuclear secrets, then Trump will use that to try to discredit any and all allegations or charges against him.

    2. The classified documents are most likely intelligence reports from the CIA and the NSA about the Russia investigation.

    Why? Because Trump apparently believed that he could conceal or destroy any evidence or information that contradicted his false narrative about that investigation.

    Trump was clearly planning to jail or kill anyone connected to that investigation if he was re-elected, and he wanted to be able to control all information about it.

    3. Trump IS a Russian agent, and he has been a Russian agent. The documents he tried to conceal or destroy likely contain proof of that.

    If any intelligence operative, connected to those documents was killed or has disappeared or was compromised, then the facts of those circumstances may be connected to Trump’s possession of those documents.

    This is not just a storage issue, or a misunderstanding about what to pack in a box. These documents are not just trophies or fetish objects.

    The content of these documents will certainly reveal a commonality of substance among them, and a narrative purpose for them.

    4. Roger Stone reserved the domain name “StopTheSteal” in the Spring of 2016. The vicious and violent efforts to undermine the electoral system, the rule of law, the NATO alliance, and democracy generally were PLAN A.

    Putin did not think Trump would win the election. Though it has never been investigated, it is very likely that Manafort supplied Russian intelligence with the specific targeting information that they would need to flip just enough votes in just the right places to hand Trump the electoral college by 70k votes.

    It is likely that this crime was discovered, and that this kind of vulnerability was corrected, and that the election results in 2018 and 2020 reflect that the actual electoral re-alignment that has been underway since 2000 has resumed, and will be resoundingly confirmed in 2022.

    5. Many have “brushed aside” the fact that Trump is under investigation under the Espionage Act (like JAN 6 SEDITIONIST, Christina Bobb).

    But this investigation IS an espionage investigation. This is not merely the most convenient statute. Before the search warrant, other classified documents were discovered, and what were the contents of those?

    In May, the money laundering statute of limitations was lifted to facilitate Kleptocapture, the Justice Department’s program to enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs. Is it a coincidence that two of the most high profile cases are Russian oligarchs connected to Trump’s alleged crimes? No. Not a coincidence.

    We will be hearing more about the money laundering crimes later this year and into next spring.

    Rod Rosenstein. We are going to hear more about his decision to wall off the counterintelligence investigation, and then kill it. We are going to hear more about his decision to wall off any investigation into Trump’s finances during the Russia investigation.

    We are going to hear how Rosenstein and Barr tried to aid and abet a Russian agent and make him into a dictator.

    6. What about the missing documents? Can we find out where they belonged? By the numbering system?

    Look! Some of the files in this sequence are missing. What are the related, extant documents ABOUT? When were they classified?

    We are going to find out what Trump tried to conceal and destroy, and I am only touching the tip of the iceberg with regard to what can be discovered about those missing or destroyed documents.

    So this fuckhead clown can keep playing games, but every person who helps him abuse the legal system to further his operations as a fucking traitor spy is going to pay the price.

    There aren’t hordes of hooligans coming to their rescue. There aren’t co-conspirators in control of any kind of government authority who will deflect and dance around to help everyone forget.

    Everyone who behaves that way is destined for prison. When the first indictments come and the clowns realize that this is not some “Benghazi circus,” but rather, the real thing, THEN we will hear the tear-filled apologies and the begging for mercy.

    We are NOT fucking around. This is NOT a political stunt.
    The sooner that is realized by the fascist cosplayers, the better chance they have to stay out of prison. I have counted off at least 200 of them that will go to jail. The list keeps growing.

    • Dr. Pablito says:

      Like the cut of your jib, there, Thomas, but you’re talking about years of investigation and prosecution.

      • Thomas says:

        I am indeed talking about years of investigation and prosecution.

        We will see the first indictments in weeks or months, and once it begins, we will continue to see indictments, arrests, defendants jailed without bail, prosecutions, trials and convictions, and every stage of that process will be happening for related cases in an ongoing manner for years to come.

        We will wreck these traitors.

    • pH unbalanced says:

      What happened in 2020 is that because of Covid, more people voted on paper by absentee or mail ballots than usual. This meant that any existing methods of electronic vote rigging were ineffective, because they were swamped by ballots with a paper trail.

      If you’ve been following the lawsuits by the Coalition for Good Governance against the election system in the State of Georgia, you know that it is particularly vulnerable to potential tampering by insiders. My own personal conspiracy theory is that the reason why Brad Raffensperger was so “heroic” in standing up to Donald Trump’s pressure to find more votes for him is because he knew that the voting system could not sustain the scrutiny it would have gotten if he had done so.

      • Thomas says:

        I respectfully disagree. Georgia, like 95% of the electoral system, is backed up by paper ballots.

        If elections are conducted with bipartisan participation in polling, tabulation and certification then there is no opportunity for insiders to rig that process.

        Recently, the redistricting process was reformed even where Republicans formerly rigged that system.

        Republicans have FAILED to suppress voting registrations, which was their only remaining hope to rig the upcoming election.

        In several states, incumbent Republican state legislatures have codified into law the so-called “state legislature supremacy” crackpot theory.

        No doubt, when the Republicans lose control of ten legislatures in about a month, they will try to overturn their staggering loss at all levels with a lame duck session in which they declare all the Republican Party losers are actually winners.

        No doubt, they will TRY to back up this brazen attempt to overthrow democracy with armed mobs.

        No doubt, these actions will be immediately overruled in federal court.

        No doubt, the federal government will swiftly put down these insurrections and jail thousands of insurrectionists and it will not take months. They will be arrested or killed on the scene.

        No doubt, the fascists will attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court, and no doubt, if the court rules in their favor, that ruling WILL BE IGNORED.

        We will have ongoing terrorist attacks by these fascist crackpots as they lose power again and again at every level for the next ten years.

        We have seen this before! Why do you think there is no militant Left? They were hunted down and jailed in the 1970s and this decade will feature the same fate for these violent crackpots on the right.

        Liberalism will prevail. Trump the loser will watch from his jail cell while we win, again and again.

  12. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    I have a very simple method for sorting those 200,000 pages of documents…

    If a piece of paper has ketchup stains on it, that means Trump’s looked at it and it’s most likely irrelevant…

    If the paper doesn’t have any ketchup stains on it, that means Trump hasn’t looked at it and it might actually be of significance.

    This is just for a quick, preliminary sorting, mind you…

    I’ll show myself out now…

  13. M Smith says:

    If I was to ‘pad’ the 200,000 page count, I would include every page in the 23 books (and magazines etc.) found in box 27.

  14. Christenson says:

    As to the document review, most of it would be context…and 50 documents per hour is not unreasonable — even if they are 20 pages each, because most review would consist of considering roughly the subject of the document and any context, like who sent it to whom. Then the result has to be recorded — probably with a brief description for higher level review and checking.
    it’s pretty clear the taint team has been doing this, noting the 3 stray privileged documents the DOJ surfaced late that team Trump complains about in their filings.

  15. Thomas says:

    I imagine it going something like this:
    [Document on a slide]
    Is this a clearly marked presidential record?

    DOJ: The government asserts privilege
    Next slide.

    For the press clippings, the government might claim it has the power to seize them under the search warrant.

    Remember, they already sorted Trump’s personal privilege records. He can’t assert ownership of ANY government records without admitting committing several crimes.

    The government can claim Trump used personal items or press clippings to hide the government documents.

    So, the impertinent bitch, Trump, is trying to delay the beginning of this process, during which his lawyers will not claim any of the documents.

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