Kash’s Castles of Scatter and Evan Corcoran’s BCC

More than seven months after seemingly threatening to sue the National Archives because Mark Meadows and Donald Trump fucked up their effort to declassify the Russian investigation documents, John Solomon finally did sue on March 21, represented by the America First Legal Foundation — Stephen Miller’s gig.

I’d be shocked if the lawsuit went anywhere.

That’s because NARA General Counsel Gary Stern provided Kash and Solomon with the explanation of what happened with the attempted declassification over and over and over. First, Trump didn’t declassify the documents. He ordered the binder of Crossfire Hurricane documents be sent to the Attorney General, who would implement the final declassifications, then send the document back to the White House.

I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy.

Then the next day, January 20, 2021, Mark Meadows sent all that to the Attorney General to conduct a Privacy Act review before releasing anything.

As Stern explained to Kash and Solomon, what remained at the White House at that point was a collection of 2,700 “undifferentiated pages,” a cursory review of which revealed conflicting redactions and some documents lacking the requisite declassification stamp. The stuff that got sent to DOJ was a Federal Record, not a Presidential Record, and by the time Kash and Solomon started this process, it was already being processed as part of a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit (the first two releases in which — one, two — recently came out).

In other words, Trump and Mark Meadows fucked this up. NARA didn’t. Trump did.

The likely futility of the lawsuit notwithstanding, the lawsuit and its timing may have more to do with publicly sharing the correspondence Solomon and Kash Patel had with NARA last year, between the time Trump would have realized he had a legal problem with this stolen classified documents, and the immediate wake of the search that made that legal problem a far bigger problem.

As the correspondence Solomon released with the lawsuit reveals, Evan Corcoran initiated this process, on June 17, 2022, informing Stern that “because of his schedule” on June 17 and 18, he would sign a letter designating Kash and Solomon NARA representatives on June 19, after which the two wanted to immediately (Solomon explained in reply) get access to the Russian documents.

Because of his schedule today and tomorrow, former President Donald J. Trump will sign a letter on Sunday afternoon, June 19, 2022, informing the Acting Archivist of the United States that he has designated Kash Patel and John Solomon (copied) to be his NARA representatives.

I will transmit that letter to the Archivist and you (and John Laster) via email when I receive it.

Kash and John would like to begin work reviewing documents at the Archives on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

I will leave it to the three of you to work out logistics (and feel free to move me to bcc)

Think about that! By April 29, Corcoran was the guy with whom Stern was coordinating on the FBI request for access to the documents Trump belatedly returned in January 2022. On May 5, Corcoran asked to access what had been returned and on the very same day — the search affidavit notes — Kash claimed that not just the Russian documents had been declassified, but a bunch of other documents had too. On May 11, FBI subpoenaed Trump for remaining classified documents. On June 3, Corcoran provided just a subset of the remaining documents.

And then, two weeks after participating in a shell game to facilitate withholding classified documents, Corcoran contacted Stern to arrange fairly urgent access for Kash and Solomon to the materials he had first asked to access in May.

The guy in charge of staving off criminal exposure for hoarding classified documents is the guy who arranged to have Kash and Solomon made NARA representatives!

And then, Stern noted, he moved Corcoran to “bcc.” That means it’s not clear whether Corcoran remained on bcc or not. We don’t know whether Corcoran, as was his intent, remained part of the rest of this exchange. Which makes the timing of this probably futile lawsuit — the second business day after Beryl Howell ruled that Corcoran must testify and the day before Corcoran was initially due to comply — all the more interesting.

There are other interesting tidbits of the correspondence Solomon includes — most notably Kash’s increasing frustration because he couldn’t name via what agency he retained clearance.

On July 18, for example, Kash wrote an email riddled with typos bitching because Stern did not take, from the letter Patel’s one-time contractor employer sent, as approval to access classified records at NARA.

Actually, that’s only part of the communications your security team and you received. The rest states:

they (NARA) could look up your clearance in DISS or Scattered Castles and your need to know came from working directly for President Trump. Per policy- In order to access anything – you would need a clearance and a need to know. You have both of these based on your position with President Trump.

If you are going to provide a correspondence on this matter and directly site a communication, please do not cut out the important, substantive portion that resolves the matter. As you can see, you can validate my clearance and my need to know is satisfied. The only question that remains is why I am getting poor/incorrect information, and why you haven’t used the data bases to verify my clearance, when that is clearly within your agencies ability (its literally how every agency in government validates said clearances). Again, I expect to be reviewing these records tomorrow since the data bases search to validate my clearance is instantaneous. Direct your security office accordingly and stop blocking my access. Thanks much


[my emphasis]

Much of this section of the exchange reads like a sloppy attempt to social engineer access. Which makes Kash’s claim that the NSC was a more recent employer of his than ODNI of particular interest.

Thanks for the update, please go to DoD and the NSC at the White House, those being my last employers in govt, they would be best suited to verify my clearance (they would not be held at ODNI) but anyone with access to Scattered Castles can easily verify the clearance and who holds it. Thanks much Kash

It’s not clear how this part of the exchange was resolved. The whole exchange led me to wonder whether Kash had a clearance during his time running DOD at all. But none of this would have amounted to a need to know in any case, notwithstanding what a former employer had said.

There was great urgency in this period to get into the archives, to see what Trump had actually turned over in January 2021. Then the correspondence ended — at least as Solomon has it — on August 17.

Incidentally, the correspondence provides at least some corroboration for my speculation that Kash was disseminating parts of the Carter Page FISA applications that had been sequestered under an order from the FISA court — sequestered, as it happens, by an order from Jeb Boasberg, who just took over as DC’s Chief Judge. It also may explain some curious metadata in the copy of the Mark Meadows order that John Solomon released on July 20, 2022. Solomon’s copy of Meadow’s order showed a creation date of September 27, 2021, but a modification date of June 23, 2022.

June 23 is the first of two times that Stern sent Solomon and Kash a copy of the memo. The modification date likely reflects NARA resending the document.

The September 27, 2021 creation date likely reflects the time when, in fall 2021, NARA first discovered the memo after Justin Clark and Alex Cannon came looking for it.

There’s one more reason this is significant. After receiving (or being described) that Mark Meadows’ memo last fall, Cannon — the guy who repeatedly advised Trump to return the classified documents — would have known the Russian documents were not declassified. But if those got returned as a result, it would mean that any other copies out there, including copies shared with Solomon, would be illegally disseminated classified records.

Update: I’ve updated my stolen documents resource page with some of the dates from Solomon’s lawsuit and caught up to my past posts.

Update: This led me to go back and review the stories John Solomon wrote in the aftermath of the search, which unsurprisingly include numerous bullshit claims.

August 11, 2022: Solomon regurgitates story describing “cooperation” in June, including Secret Service involvement in June 3 meeting and aftermath.

August 22, 2022: JustTheNews posts the text of letter from Debra Steidal Wall to Trump.

Update: Corrected which year Trump returned some documents.


27 replies
  1. BobBobCon says:

    “Much of this section of the exchange reads like a sloppy attempt to social engineer access. ”

    There’s an ongoing stench of this to Patel, with him blustering to people “Do you know who I am? Do you know who I report to?”

    It’s always nice to see responses along the lines of “Hello, security, there’s a man here who needs help. He wants classified information but he doesn’t seem to know who he is or who he reports to.”

  2. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    Oh, good gawd. These guys are relentless. But then again, so are you!! ;^ )
    “Lá Breithe Shona Duit“ to you, Dr. Wheeler!

  3. !?FTWlol says:

    Solomon commits – under penalty of perjury – the Sin of Truth by referring to Trump’s presidency in the past tense: then, former, conclusion. One wonders what the 45th was so busy doing on 17 & 18 June, 2022 that he could not spare 2 seconds to sign such a crucial piece of paper?

    • RVH says:

      – Road to Majority conference at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Friday, June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
      – American Freedom Tour, Landers Center in Southaven, Miss. on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Ticket Prices
      $45 – $3995)

  4. esqTJE@23 says:

    Marcy –
    I went back to re-read the Aug. 22 Kash Patel post & comments. William Ockham starts a thread about SCANNERS that goes on for a bit with other commenters, including yourself.
    Now that we know about at least one scanning episode, are there inferences that can be made from y’alls informed assumptions or speculation and what we know through recent revelations about what was indeed scanned for Trump’s retention? I’m not sure I know enough about the tech or the terms to even try to come up with my own. Nor am I as well read as you on the ‘schedules scanning’ case attributed, at this point, to an innocent campaign staffer, if I recall correctly.

    • emptywheel says:

      It was always possible the scanner, which had to be fairly significant, was NARA’s. I think with notice of the earlier communication with Alex Cannon, that’s the most likely explanation.

  5. Joberly1954 says:

    Interesting that Solomon’s suit asks for a “writ of replevin,” but as the NARA general counsel pointed out, the records are federal from the FBI and DOJ, not presidential, and therefore not wrongly held by the originating agencies. The other detail that stands out is that Trump wanted a release of the binder of documents on the morning of Jan. 20, presumably to distract from the inauguration of Biden & Harris at noon that day. That must have been a last-minute substitute plan for Trump’s idea to hold a counter-inauguration rally/2024-announcement kickoff at Mar-a-Lago, at the same hour that the duly elected and certified executives were sworn into office.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      LOL. A writ of replevin asks a court to force the return of property belonging to the party demanding the writ. Trump tried that argument before Aileen Cannon. It failed because the records are not Trump’s. Federal records belong to the agency generating them. Presidential records also belong to the USG. A former president has preferential access to them for a limited period of time – and only under the access rules established by the government and the National Archives.

      Demanding a writ of replevin is pointless, other than to confuse the public, to portray the legal system as incapable of fairly applying the law, and to grovel at the feet of TFG.

  6. Unabogie says:

    I think it was Josh Marshall at TPM who first introduced me to Solomon when he still worked for AP. At the time, Solomon was writing inexplicably wrong articles even though he was ostensibly just a hard news reporter. Something was off with him. Here’s one from 2006.


    I find it fascinating that he’s landed himself into the heart of the Trump MAGA cabal. No longer content to just write about corruption from the sidelines, he’s actively participating in the corruption.

  7. Konny_2022 says:

    I first came across the name of John Solomon as an opinionwriter for The Hill in the first half of Trump’s presidency. He published several pieces about the then ongoing Mueller investigation, and Ukraine, invoking his ties to Giuliani as a source, as far as I remember. However, many of his assertions were unsubstantiated. The Hill dispensed with his writings in August of 2019. From then on Solomon went “full Trump.”

  8. WilliamOckham says:

    I wonder who had to be the guy who told Trump that even though he stole dozens of boxes of documents, he missed the one that had all the Crossfire Hurricane documents in it?

  9. WilliamOckham says:

    The timeline on this is just amazing! At the same time that Trump is obstructing the investigation into the documents he stole, he’s sending John Solomon and Kash Patel to improperly access more classified documents.

    By the way, if you look at page 9 of Solomon’s lawsuit, you’ll see a masterpiece in “per my last email” genre from Gary Stern, NARA’s general counsel. I’m tempted to do a line-by-line analysis. That letter also explains why Solomon’s email has a snowball’s chance in Hell of suceeding.

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