“Why Did Mike Pence Wait So Long to Reveal His Stash of Classified Documents?”

At a press availability yesterday, Merrick Garland repeated a line he often uses, that DOJ applies the law the same for everyone.

“We do not have different rules for Democrats or Republicans, different rules for the powerful or the powerless, different rules for the rich and for the poor, we apply the facts, and the law in each case in a neutral, non-partisan manner,” Garland told reporters during a press availability at Justice Department headquarters. “That is what we always do.”

Many of the reporters covering it treated it as a comment about DOJ’s handling of the Trump and Biden classified document inquiries. Maybe it was.

Little did anyone know, though, that Garland might well have had the FBI’s collection of about a dozen documents with classified markings from Mike Pence’s home in mind.

Greg Jacob first told the Archives about the documents on January 18, six days ago and two days after the search. The next day, the FBI arrived in Indiana to collect the documents, which Jacob complained was against standard protocol. Yesterday Pence’s staff delivered several boxes to the Archives to check for adherence to the Presidential Records Act.

I don’t much care that Pence didn’t immediately run to the press to announce the documents, but it is the kind of thing that journalists who are good at horse race coverage, unaware of many of the thus-far distinguishing details about the Trump documents, and ill-equipped to cover classified documents stories latched onto with Biden.

So in an effort to provide some structure for the kids-chasing-a-soccer-ball-like coverage we’re already seeing, here’s a table that summarizes what we know and don’t know about all three cases.

Until we have answers about some of the details that currently distinguish Biden and Pence from Trump — like whether they knew of the documents (both claim they did not), whether they ever accessed the documents after leaving office, whether we have reason to believe they’re harboring more — this should not be a story.

And the key difference, one that should be included in every story that tries to make such a comparison, is that Trump refused to give documents back, whereas Biden and Pence freely offered them up.

The reason that’s important, aside from the both sides drama of it, is that it is an element of the offense that would be most likely to be used if DOJ took the unprecedented step of charging a former Original Classification Authority with harboring classified documents.

As we can now see, it happens that men who have aides pack them up at the end of their tenure go home with documents they didn’t know they had. It happens. (By the time Kamala Harris leaves, there’s likely to be a new protocol in place, so Harris can set a perfect record as the first woman being packed up.) What matters — what distinguishes a mistake from a potential crime — is what you do with the documents when you become aware you have them.

It’s possible we’ll learn details that suggest Biden knowingly stashed classified documents. But thus far, we don’t have any such details. And that should — but thus far has often not — show up in any competent coverage.

121 replies
  1. Sunshifter says:

    Might also be useful to differentiate somehow between classification levels of the documents found—I think Biden and Pence are both “None Known” as of yet for anything with special extra-secret classifications, whereas Trump had a bunch.

    • emptywheel says:

      It would if we could expect to get that level of detail. We can’t. We only got it with Trump bc he demanded a Special Master.

      • CAzen says:

        But it is an importnt row or rows in the well done chart.
        SCIF documents known Hugely none none
        SCIF douments potential Hugely not known not known
        Helps shape percetions and minimize whataboutism

        • P J Evans says:

          It isn’t important for this. What’s going to get charges is obstruction: refusing to turn them over. Which so far doesn’t apply to either Biden or Pence.

    • SAO says:

      It’s also worth differentiating between documents that have information that remains secret and that which is no longer secret. Ukrainian President Zelensky is making a surprise visit to Congress tomorrow may be highly classified, but Zelensky made a surprise visit to Congress yesterday was covered by every newspaper. Did the memo saying “tomorrow” get declassified? Probably not. No one needs to read it again.

      I would imagine there’s a ton of secret docs of this nature.

  2. jecojeco says:

    Tough for Garland to turn off the Special Counsel faucet now that we have a working precedent. I don’t think Pence qualifies for “He’s suffered enough” treatment yet.

    The time is ripe for trump to make comments that will make things worse, both for himself and maybe Pence. His posts on Truth look like he’s shucked all adult control.

    • Anathema Device says:

      The difference between Trump and Biden, and Pence, is that Pence is not (yet) presumed to be a candidate for President.

      Dr Wheeler says there was no obstruction known in Pence’s case, but I note:

      (a) “The next day, the FBI arrived in Indiana to collect the documents, which Jacob complained was against standard protocol.” is at best poor form and at worst, the kind of enshittening (h/t Mike Masnick) of routine law enforcement procedures to make everything the FBI does look suspicious and discriminatory towards Republicans;


      (b) “Yesterday Pence’s staff delivered several boxes to the Archives to check for adherence to the Presidential Records Act.”

      One has to wonder why Pence’s house was not searched. Did he refuse? Are the FBI waiting for an invitation because they were burned by the Trumpian theatrics? Why treat him differently from POTUS?

      The very best this whole saga demonstrates yet again is the sloppy security regarding this class of document. I don’t know if Biden can implement better procedures or if that’s even his job, but someone should get on that soon.

        • skua says:

          Vinnie, I think you just got a taste of how American EN very frequently appears to non-American native EN speakers.

        • Anathema Device says:

          I’m now completely confused. Did you think I didn’t know what expression Vince was alluding to (i.e. “Are you shitting me?”) or did Vince, as I originally thought, really not get what the word I used meant?

      • Shadowalker says:

        “ One has to wonder why Pence’s house was not searched.”
        They need probable cause of a crime or evidence of one for a search warrant. So far, all the available evidence doesn’t rise up to that standard. Yet.

        • Anathema Device says:

          No search warrant was applied for to search Biden’s houses because he either invited them in or responded cooperatively to an informal request.

          Which could have been made to Pence but doesn’t appear have been. Pence’s response falls well short of obstruction while still appearing unnecessarily querulous.

        • tje.esq@23 says:

          or CONSENT.

          …the most important distinction of them all — that ‘good guys’ who have nothing to hide, CONSENT to having their places searched.* Both Biden and Pence have given consent; I believe both have given it more than once.

          Republican Rep. Mike Turner went on several Sunday shows saying he was really distressed over the unequal treatment between Biden’s case, and Trump “having his Mar-a-Lago ‘castle’ searched by police.” The CNN anchor failed to take the wind out of his sails, but at least attempted to distinguish that Trump had the unfortunate luck of providing probable cause of a crime by moving and hiding boxes after he was told not to move them. And this was sufficient evidence to convince a South Florida federal judge that a search warrant was, indeed, WARRANTED!

          But the anchor missed the biggest distinction between the Biden/Pence versus Trump cases: CONSENT. You’ll recall DOJ’s head of national security showed up at Mar-a-Lago in early June 2022 to retrieve bound papers from Trump’s attorney, and when he asked if he could look inside boxes in a storage closet, he was expressly told ‘No.” Trump WITHHELD CONSENT.

          In time sequence, probable cause only became important at that point, because the only way the feds were going to be sure Trump harbored no more classified booty was searching his property without his consent — either via a search warrant based on probable cause that a judge signs off on, or through a valid, legally recognized, narrowly prescribed emergency that would have justified the search. The latter was not relevant in this case, but is mentioned here as another condition not requiring probable cause to justify a search.

          * Lack of consent does not mean a person has engaged in wrongdoing, nor has anything to hide. Such a leap of inference swaps the sufficient term with the necessary term — a common fault of logic employed by several hot-air shooting frothers.

  3. RMD says:

    The FBI removed 11,000 documents spanning 200,000 pages from Trump’s residence.
    CBSNews, The Guardian, NYTimes (links not included)

  4. Silly but True says:

    I joke but David Ferriero is going to get Quayle, Gore, Cheney, Biden, Pence, Carter, Clinton, GWBush, Obama and Trump sent to prison before this is all over.

      • bmaz says:

        Walter is dead, but might otherwise be a prime candidate. More because of his time as an ambassador than time as VP. Time as VP was, like Carter, before the relevant document provisions.

        • John B. says:

          Yeah, I know the ex Democratic VP Mondale had passed and I was semi being snarky, but also not. I mean why not all the past VP’s. Cheney comes to mind particularly…

    • Marinela says:

      What I am unclear, the searches on Biden and Pence were done initially by Biden and Pence (and their attorneys). What actually triggered them to do the search?

      The timing of it I would like to figure out.
      Was the timing related to some event initiated by the national archivist?
      If so, why wasn’t Pence asked to look before November elections last year?

      By the way David Ferriero retired.

      • bmaz says:

        Why would Biden and Pence “not” do an inventory after Trump, and especially Pence after Biden? That is a no brainer.

        • Kope a Pia says:

          That no brainer inventory should also apply to every officeholder and former employee that has/had access to classified docs.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          I imagine quite a few are doing exactly that. But most won’t be prominent enough for their scanty offerings to NARA to make headlines.

      • Peterr says:

        As I understand it, in Biden’s case, his private office at Penn Biden Center was being closed or moved, and in packing things up they discovered the first docs.

      • Silly but True says:

        I know Ferriero retired, but the things he set in motion before doing so are very much fully employed and working very hard.

      • Charles R. Conway says:

        Great point, Cheney. If anyone, Cheney has really good ones. But, they’ll never see the light of day.
        Conspicuous in his absence is Obama. It makes sense his staff was meticulous. He’s the only real lawyer in the bunch. Or, are we just waiting for that shoe to drop. “Kids chasing the soccer ball” is funny.

  5. punaise says:

    Et tu, Mikey?

    …to provide some structure for the kids-chasing-a-soccer-ball-like coverage we’re already seeing…

    It’s actually worse than that. it’s kids-chasing-a-soccer-ball-like and then “Squirrel!”

    • Peterr says:

      . . . followed by a “What do you mean there are no juice boxes? We want our juice boxes!!!” group meltdown.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Maggie Haberman IS a dandelion, even though she thinks she’s something more cultivated.
          dandelion | noun
          dan·​de·​li·​on ˈdan-də-ˌlī-ən -dē-
          : any of a genus (Taraxacum) of yellow-flowered composite herbs with milky sap
          especially : one (T. officinale) sometimes grown as a potherb and nearly cosmopolitan as a weed

      • Lawnboy says:

        I loved that part of coaching “swarm ball”. The looks on their faces when offered a choice of “ apple juice or broccoli juice”. Popsicles were big, double servings for the players that would go over to the short sided teams. Ran that circus for 10 years.

  6. Peterr says:

    (By the time Kamala Harris leaves, there’s likely to be a new protocol in place, so Harris can set a perfect record as the first woman being packed up.)

    Or . . .

    Harris will be the next woman who says “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

  7. Quake says:

    For Trophy Documents and Compiled Documents the table has “possible” for Biden and “none known” for Pence. Does this difference reflect known facts or just that the table was initially made for just Trump and Biden and then Pence was added later, with some possible small differences in terminology?

  8. Doctor My Eyes says:

    When documents were discovered in Biden’s office, I learned of it within minutes of its being made public, because the NYT sent a breathless “Breaking News” email to my inbox. I’m still waiting for such an email about the documents discovered in Pence’s home. I can only conclude that Pence’s possession of such documents is less important to the nation.

    • Rayne says:

      What’s particularly irritating to me: Biden is president. Why is the possession of classified documents by the current president breaking news? It’s as if somebody decided they needed to hamper the current president’s ability to obtain, use, and hold classified materials.

      Hence the lack of outrage over Pence’s possession — there’s nothing to obstruct by raising a hue and cry.

  9. ccinmfd says:

    Seems to me that the Biden document discoveries and now those at former VP Mike Pence’s home – how long before Obama and “W” join the party? – are a blessing in disguise for the Justice Department, as federal law enforcers can and should apply equal justice across party lines regarding improper possession and storage of classified documents. No excuses for anyone – not Biden, not Pence, not What’s-His-Name. And yes, there are major differences in each instance, agreed. But on the other hand, these classified document cases – cutting across both parties – perhaps clears the political optics path with respect to when and if the legal hammer comes down on The Former Guy with respect to all things Jan. 6. These across-party-lines document cases tend to undercut those who will continue to – and have been claiming – “witch hunt,” and the “weaponizing” of law enforcement with respect to Jan. 6. AG Garland via Special Counsel Jack Smith: IMHO you now have a clearer path to throw the book at 45 with regard to the right v. left political optics of same – optics that don’t affect the damning merits of Jan. 6, of course. But in our polarized, echo chambered society, I think this helps immensely.

    • Ken_L says:

      The NARA lost more than a thousand BOXES of classified documents during W’s presidency. But Democrats and the media were all “ho hum” about it, because Hillary’s use of a private email server hadn’t yet been discovered as the greatest threat to American national security since Pearl Harbor.

      • punaise says:

        In Cheney’s case, it’s not pallets document boxes, but boxes of souvenir pellets (I.e. the shotgun variety.)

      • Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

        I am even more curious about the potential stashes from cabinet members, in particular Mike Pompeo. I don’t know if it is possible that he could have documents, but given his level of arrogance and also his multiple roles in the Trump administration, it would not be shocking if he crossed the line. Because after all, he is one of the smart ones.

        • Rayne says:

          Pompeo could have been a witness to conversations about some documents not accounted for. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he was applying some subtle pressure to ensure support for his next political role.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Did the Obama documents get packed up the same way everyone else’s did? My (admittedly undercaffeinated) memory was that the plan for the Obama Presidential Library was that it wouldn’t have paper documents. The whole thing was supposed to be digital copies of his papers.

  10. c-i-v-i-l says:

    There are a variety of other potential lines in such a table, depending on what one wants to highlight. For example, NARA initiated the contact with Trump but not Biden or Pence. Biden and Pence both claim that their possession was inadvertent, whereas Trump says he declassified everything and declared it all personal (not subject to the PRA), and he took the docs because they’re his. There might be other lines for whether the recovered docs include unclassified docs subject to the PRA, whether the FBI carried out a search, the number of locations where docs were found, …

    • P J Evans says:

      But that isn’t the point of *this* table, which is comparing the former guy to Biden and now also to Pence.

        • P J Evans says:

          But what you’re asking for isn’t what ew is writing about. Make your own, if you need one with those details, but don’t expect her to write to please us.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          I didn’t ask for anything at all, and I find it odd that you interpreted my comment as an ask. In no way did/do I “expect her to write to please us.” If you inferred that, then you inferred something that wasn’t implied. You and I may also have different interpretations of where the bounds are in “what ew is writing about.”

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          You’ve misinterpreted. I don’t expect her to write to please us and wasn’t asking for anything.

  11. Ken_L says:

    Courtesy of ‘The Hill’:

    ‘Pence has been asked over multiple interviews in the last five months whether he took any classified materials with him when he left the White House. The questions began in August after the FBI searched former President Trump’s Florida home to retrieve classified materials, and they resumed in recent weeks after it was revealed that President Biden’s lawyers found classified documents from his time as vice president at his old office and Delaware home.

    In each instance, Pence insisted he had been careful and was not aware of any classified materials in his possession.

    Pence’s most recent comments on the matter came on Jan. 10, five days before his lawyers said he directed a thorough review of administration records being stored at his Indiana home.

    “Our staff reviewed all of the materials in our office and in our residence to ensure that there were no classified materials that left the White House or remained in our possession,” Pence told CBS News at the time. “And I remain confident that that was done in a thorough and careful way.”’

    If Democrats have any nous at all, Pence’s episode has completely neutralised his own.

  12. freebird says:

    This whole thing is bemusing. If I read something confidential in a secret room where I couldn’t take notes the information would stick in my memory. After I left the room, I would then write down what I read immediately. Reading something shocking and important causes neurological processes that imprints the information in your brain. Everything about the document would be etched in my hippocampus for later retrieval.

    • Roger Mexico says:

      I never expected to respond to a neuro comment on here – this is the exact area of my PhD. I’m wondering if you’re in Arizona.
      Briefly, small bursts of noradrenaline (or norepinephrine – same thing) enhance focus of forebrain circuits mostly through modulation of the medial prefrontal cortex. Large bursts can enhance the emotional content of memories (flashbulb memories) at the expense of semantic content. The role of the hippocampus is possibly overstated in both areas.

        • Roger Mexico says:

          The seminal work in the area was done at the Pasteur Institute but Paris seems a ways away. Newfoundland and Arizona are the other two natural guesses.

          Mexico comes from Gravity’s Rainbow. Roger spends a lot of time trying to explain the Poisson distribution to people who would rather believe in magic. I feel like that many days.

      • freebird says:

        Learning about memory and how we learn things is a long-term interest of mine. Coincidently, it started years ago when someone in Arizona thought that I could not remember a long list of numbers. I felt a surge of adrenaline and later what I believed was cortisol. Most recently, I have been absorbing lessons from a series of lectures from the Great Courses.

      • xy xy says:

        Now picture all you’re writing above and Trump even getting an iota of understanding of any of what he sees and hears.
        Especially considering his mind is no doubt always focused on how to make a buck and stay out of trouble while creating more trouble and figuring ways to stay out of that trouble, and on and on and on.
        And also on his mind has to be who’s going to be the next guy to rat on him.
        And I’m getting a headache just writing and reading this.

    • Peterr says:

      If your job was to read such documents daily, then work with others who have read the same documents to write up other confidential documents to pass along to those who take actions based on your work, your reaction would be quite different.

      Yes, the content of docs might be shocking and important, but the mere fact that a lot of what you’re reading in your WH/DOD/State Dept office might be classified desensitizes you to the “OMG I’m reading a Top Secret/No Foreign Nationals document” element of the shock.

      • BobBobCon says:

        And to be clear, the vast bulk of classified material, even at the highest levels, is incredibly tedious.

        Often it’s unclear to most readers why a document is classified, or what its significance even is.

      • freebird says:

        For me, what you say is not true. I worked in finance for years and could remember key numbers of substantial deals I worked on years ago. On elaborate and complicated construction projects I could remember the discussion and how it related to previous projects without looking at notes.

        Plus, if you disclosed information, your company can get sued, your company can lose money, you could lose your job or go to jail. So, being de-sensitized is expensive and risky.

        We called this knowledge derived from seasoned workers institutional memory.

        • Roger Mexico says:

          I worked with an accountant who had that strange number memory. Strings of financial coding and precise values of journal entries were like old friends he could bring to mind at any time.

  13. jecojeco says:

    Formerly Fat Mike Pompeo is my #1 candidate for having secret docs in his possession – and knowingly. Georgie Bush is off the radar because he never took work home, wasn’t into details and reading stuff.

    RUDY publicly claimed on his blog that trump gave him classified docs to take home, aside from being incredibly stupid and self-incriminating, it raises the possibility that trump was handing docs like party favors. Navarro probably has shiit on China etc. trump operated like a mafioso don.

    NARA will be going thru some things.

  14. Bears7485 says:

    I know that FPOTUS’ case differs in that he obstructed and refused to return documents when asked by NARA. And I’m aware that the results of each investigation are in no way dependent on any other case.

    All of that being understood, perhaps a stupid question; With the discovery of Biden’s and now Pence’s documents, is it possible that we see the DOJ recommending just monetary fines? Or worse yet, a Nixon-ish situation wherein Biden pardons Trump out of some misguided centrist wish to “move the country forward”?

    • freebird says:

      Sandy Berger, an NSA adviser in the Clinton administration, got caught removing documents from a SCIF, got probation and had his law license suspended.

    • BobBobCon says:

      The odds of Biden pardoning Trump are about as high as the odds that Biden would have followed Jake Tapper’s advice and added Trump to the official US contingent to Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

      There’s been a weak attempt by the Wall Street Journal editorial page network to push this dumb idea — former WSJ editorial page writer Jason Willick wrote in favor last August, and then former WSJ editorial page writer Bret Stephens followed with a “my friend who is not conservative likes this idea” take shortly after.

      But I think that was just a trial balloon, and it’s landed with a thud.

  15. RyanEvans says:

    The chart is really useful. I’d suggest dropping “per years of service”, which comes across as a denominator so rigged it delegitimizes the other data.

  16. anonone says:

    This all speaks to incredibly bad systems, processes, and inventories for handling classified documents, but who is talking about that?

  17. Terrapin says:

    Long-time National Archives user here. Obviously, the large number of Trump’s missing documents raised NARA’s interest in his case. But Biden hasn’t been VP since 2017 and Pence since 2021. Why did the small quantity of documents slip through NARA’s net? Could other former Presidents, VPs, and other government officials deliberately or inadvertently be holding classified or non-classified government documents? Does the FBI need to raid Jimmy Carter’s residence?

    In any case, government officials at the highest level have been cavalier in the handling of classified documents for a while. It goes with the territory. Trump, of course, was in his own league in this regard. But might not the FBI need to sweep the residences of every living former POTUS and Veep for stray classified records? And why did the National Archives not know they were missing in the Biden and Pence cases? I can tell you from personal experience NARA is anal about this sort of thing, but clearly, even they get overwhelmed by the sheer size of their management problem and trying not to offend the powerful even if they aren’t in office anymore.

    • Epicurus says:

      NARA would need to have an accurate inventory of what the President and Vice President have received or created and sent out of their respective offices. They would probably have to verify with the creators and subsequent recipients that, in fact, such documents were sent out and sent back out to have faith in the inventory. They could never know what things were created by the Pres/VP except under good faith acceptance of such disclosure.

      The legislation could be amended to have NARA compliance employees be in charge of the document review. That raises potentially significant issues, however, depending upon the need to see every document and to evaluate them given the potentially sensitive personal nature of a document. At least a procedural review by NARA would catch classified documents.

      I know it is beneath them but maybe a required class given by NARA to the mandatory attendance required departing President/VP and any individuals to be part of the review. The class would cover NARA requirements, required document review procedures, and required compliance sign off by the President/VP. This cries out for a need for some type of savage librarian. I would suggest a mandatory six figure fine for the President/VP if classified documents or other significant documents are improperly distributed. Nothing focuses a politician like money.

      Lost in all this and as important to me is digital compliance with the act. Who performs that? Who reviews that?

      • Peterr says:

        There is an office in the WH dedicated to preserving a log of documents and phone calls – the WH Office of the Staff Secretary. See below for more.

      • JohnB says:

        Supposedly only POTUS has a no sign-off for all documents. All other members of our government have to sign for documents. But clearly there is not anyone/NARA inventorying all these missing documents. Trump managed to get away with sneaking things out, because POTUS is not part of custody chains. But how did all these other documents escape the custody chain, Biden and Pence? I also agree with another commenter as to why there are so many questions about Biden having documents, while he is President?

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. We also have a number of community members named John which makes adequate differentiation critical. We already have a community member named “John B.” who will likewise need to change to a unique 8-letter name. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • P J Evans says:

        The other thing is that NARA isn’t the custodial agency until *after* they leave office. Before then, it’s whatever agency owns the docs. So there can’t be a single source of information on who has what, because no single person knows.

  18. Terrapin says:

    Long-time National Archives user here. I think we might see other former POTUS and VPOTUS having their spaces searched. In any case, Pence’s carelessness has taken some of the heat off of Biden. It makes it harder for Trump to claim false equivalency (he still will). Frankly, at this point, the FBI should search the spaces of every former POTUS and VPOTUS for classified records (including Jimmy Carter). NARA makes a good-faith effort to get everything after an administration ends, but clearly, the scale of the problem and the power of the people they are dealing with does not lend itself to perfection.

    • xy xy says:

      I’d really be excited about having people come and look in all my, my wife’s and children’s drawers and closets for missing docs or anything else.

  19. Kevin Hayden says:

    More than ‘offered them up’. They initiated the interactions with the DOJ and NARA though both could have destroyed the docs and there’d be no story at all.

    NARA knew about Trump’s trove of docs and initiated the actions to recover them. Plus one other distinction: nobody’s alleged that Pence or Biden destroyed any documents, unlike TFG

  20. Vinnie Gambone says:

    These matters relates to hard copies , right ?
    Is there a list kept somewhere of all secret documents white house request from agencies? Again, I am back to the subject of secret document indexes and who can/does access document index data base. Who needs a hacker when you can just tell Jared and he gets you what you want for a fee. Do we know anything about who and how documents are released?
    I am worried that people can not just get the physical files but that they can copy them. Nothing Top Secret gets transferred electronically by repository, correct? What a colossal fraud document security is being revealed by these three discoveries. Librarians failing awfully.

    • P J Evans says:

      They’re not all stored in one convenient library. I suspect that every agency has its own, and its own librarians, and so on.

      • Random Analyst says:

        And don’t forget that classified networks (SIPRNet and JWICS for example) hold documents and printers are a thing. I have a clearance and work in a cleared facility. I can print as many documents as I like, as long as I keep them in the “closed area” (spaces approved for classified work) and lock them in an approved safe when not in use. Very few hardcopy classified documents are “accountable” with individual codes and are subject to inventory. If I have handwritten classified notes, they have to be marked as working papers, and reviewed for retention every 90 days.

    • Peterr says:

      In the case of the Trump administration, I think it is less on NARA and more on Trump. The White House Office of the Staff Secretary is charged with (among other things) tracking every document that enters and leaves the Oval Office. Where did it come from, who brought it to POTUS, what orders (if any) were issued (ie. are there new documents to track that come out of the Oval Office) as a result of the document, and where did the document go when it left the Oval Office. They keep a log of all this, just as there is a log of every call that goes through the WH switchboard and a log of every call the President makes on another phone.

      At least that’s how it is supposed to work.

      Under Trump, this system was a mess. Derek Lyons, the last head of the office, left on Dec 18, 2019, and not only was there no new replacement appointed, but there was no acting head named either. IIRC, the J6 committee had testimony that things were so crazy in early January that the folks whose job it was to track the documents and log the phone calls were either so shorthanded that they weren’t always around to do that, or that they were told NOT to do that.

      I believe that NARA did get these logs on Jan 21, but they were not complete. There was enough there, though, that NARA could see that they didn’t get everything from the Trump WH folks that they should have, and that’s when they began asking for the missing documents. “Wait a minute: the log shows docs X, Y, and Z, but we only have X. Where are Y and Z?”

    • re entry says:

      the archives folks realized there were some trump administration documents missing which started this whole ball rolling, is it a sure thing that they know precisely what is missing from the empty folders found at mara lago

      • harpie says:

        I’m not sure if Greene said that first quote or if it’s Hassan quoting Greene, who has used that phrase.

    • harpie says:

      5:50 PM · Jan 25, 2023

      AUSA Kenerson says he wants to present some new exhibits in light of issues raised in cross.

      Norm Pattis (for Biggs) is notifying govt of intent to call former President Trump and is requesting assistance of govt in serving him. (!!)

      Judge Kelly basically ignores Pattis. /209

      Recessing until 9am tomorrow. Hope to see you then. /210


    • harpie says:

      Jordan Fischer:

      [4:22 PM] Defense attorney Nayib Hassan has taken to calling Matthew Greene “Mr. Benefits.” Like attorneys Smith, Pattis and Hernandez, he’s repeatedly pressing Greene about what he has gotten and expects to still get out of his plea deal.

      [4:37 PM] Hassan ends by asking if Matthew Greene feels he got “revved up” by former President Trump. Greene agrees Trump’s words had an effect on him.

      [4:48 PM] Judge Kelly is getting visibly and audibly frustrated with how argumentative defense attorneys are being with Matthew Greene, particularly how they are repeatedly talking over him while he tries to answer their questions. […]

      They don’t want the jury to hear Greene’s story.
      They want to write their OWN novel.
      [There were at least two factual errors in their story.]

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