Lordy, There Are Tapes [of Trump Acknowledging He Had Stolen Classified Documents]!

CNN has a blockbuster report about a recording, taken in conjunction with Mark Meadows’ memoir, capturing Trump claiming that he had a document planning an attack on Iran that he wished he could share, but could not, because it was classified.

The July 2021 meeting was held at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with two people working on the autobiography of Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows as well as aides employed by the former president, including communications specialist Margo Martin. The attendees, sources said, did not have security clearances that would allow them access to classified information. Meadows didn’t attend the meeting, sources said.

Meadows’ autobiography includes an account of what appears to be the same meeting, during which Trump “recalls a four-page report typed up by (Trump’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) Mark Milley himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.”

The document Trump references was not produced by Milley, CNN was told.


The meeting in which Trump discussed the Iran document with others happened shortly after The New Yorker published a story by Susan Glasser detailing how, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley instructed the Joint Chiefs to ensure Trump issued no illegal orders and that he be informed if there was any concern. The story infuriated Trump.

Glasser reported that in the months following the election, Milley repeatedly argued against striking Iran and was concerned Trump “might set in motion a full-scale conflict that was not justified.” Milley and others talked Trump out of taking such a drastic action, according to the New Yorker story.

On the recording and in response to the story, Trump brings up the document, which he says came from Milley. Trump told those in the room that if he could show it to people, it would undermine what Milley was saying, the sources said. One source says Trump refers to the document as if it is in front of him.

Several sources say the recording captures the sound of paper rustling, as if Trump was waving the document around, though is not clear if it was the actual Iran document.

This is clearly an elaboration of what WaPo reported (as evidence of obstruction!) here, which I wrote about here. It is one of two documents — the other is a map — persistently described as something prosecutors asked about because Trump discussed sharing it with others.

The meeting was in Bedminster, not Mar-a-Lago.

One reason witnesses would be asked about it is to find out if Trump really had the document in front of him.

Let me explain how I think it relates (WaPo’s conceit notwithstanding) to potential Espionage Act or 18 USC 2071 charges.

First, it’s certainly possible this is one of the documents pertaining to Iran that WaPo has reported were among the ones obtained in the search in August 2022.

If it is, then it would be a document that Trump transported back and forth from Florida — something that would make it easier for DOJ to charge this in DC instead of SDFL.

If it’s something DOJ didn’t obtain in the search, but also didn’t obtain among the documents Trump returned in either January or June 2022, then … then we have problems. If this is among the documents that DOJ thinks Trump didn’t return, then we have problems, especially given Jack Smith’s focus on Trump’s LIV golf deal, because this is the kind of document that the Saudis would pay billions of dollars for.

Weeks ago, CNN also reported that Smith had asked NARA for 16 documents about declassification decisions. Few have considered the possibility those documents relate to specific documents that Trump still retained — though if there are any Russian investigations among those Trump retained at least until January 2022, then there surely would be. The same could be true here.

The document is, as CNN reports, evidence that Trump knew he had stolen classified documents.

Importantly, though, it’s also evidence about motive. No matter what reason Trump originally stole this document, this incident shows how Trump was exploiting it: To prove a critic wrong.

It’s precisely the same reason why Trump spent his last days attempting to declassify all the Russian investigation documents: revenge. It’s the most Trump motive ever.

But it also goes a long way to prove one of the more serious crimes listed in the warrant authorizing the search last August.

As I laid out in August, the elements of a straight up 18 USC 793 offense are:

  • Did the defendant, without authorization, have possession of, access to, or control over a document that was National Defense Information?
  • Did the document in question relate to the national defense?
  • Did the defendant have reason to believe the information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation?
  • Did the defendant retain the above material and fail to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it?
  • Did he keep this document willfully?

All of Trump’s behavior here fulfils these elements of offense. The document could be heard rustling on the recording, and several witnesses can describe whether he really had it. The document pertained to an attack on Iran, quintessentially a matter of national defense. Trump exhibited awareness that he couldn’t share it, because it was classified. And Trump had it, at least in part, to avenge what he perceived as a slight by Milley.

The one caveat — one made by Charlie Savage on Twitter — is the bolded bullet. DOJ had not yet subpoenaed this document. If he wasn’t caught in possession in of this document, it would serve only as evidence of 18 USC 2071 — the law prohibiting taking classified documents that disqualifies someone from holding federal office. Though if he ever did share it with people, it could exposure him to more serious levels of the Espionage Act.

All trials are about prosecutors telling stories.

This incident is a story so good that Trump tried to tell it himself, and in the process got recorded admitting he had stolen classified documents. And that’s why prosecutors asked a bunch of witnesses about it.

Update: Hugo Lowell’s version of this includes important details (the NYT also got several of these):

  1. The meeting in question was in July 2021.
  2. The recording came from Margo Martin, whose devices prosecutors obtained and imaged.
  3. The actual document in question predates Mark Milley’s tenure as CJS.
  4. Trump’s lawyers claim a document matching this description was among those returned to the Archives.
  5. Prosecutors have shown the actual document to grand jury witnesses.
148 replies
  1. Alan_OrbitalMechanic says:

    It is hard to imagine a JCS member as thoughtful as Milley advocating to launch an Iraq-war scale assault on Iran. For one thing forget about a coalition you would not get a single ally except for Israel.

    Yet if there were Iran invasion plans drawn up who actually wrote it? Was it a routine hypothetical exercise or was someone really thinking that Trump could actually pull it off? Anyone rational would realize that he couldn’t, but that’s the point. Just who is the batshit crazy person in the Pentagon here?

    Also, I am wondering when someone will get around to explaining what happened to the contents of all those empty folders they found. I’ll bet at least one of them was used to grease that $2B sweet deal for Jared.

    • Peterr says:

      I can completely see Milley crafting a document like this in response to a direct order: “Draw up the outline of an invasion plan, General.” I can also see him vociferously advocating that it NOT be put into action. “Here’s the plan you ordered me to produce, Mr. President, but let me now tell you why I think it is not a good idea . . .”

      And Trump is absolutely the kind of guy who would claim that simply producing a plan like this was the same as advocating it be carried out.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Absolutely. Although I can imagine John Bolton advocating such a plan, likely hypothetically–because he’s a zealot, not an idiot.

        Unlike Trump.

      • BobBobCon says:

        A more detailed version of General Shinseki’s calculation of the force needed to invade Iraq, which far exceeded what Rumsfeld wanted to admit.

        • Peterr says:

          Milley’s memo was only four pages long — hardly enough for a decent outline of an invasion plan, and nowhere near enough for anything I’d call “detailed.”

        • BobBobCon says:

          That’s still more detailed than what Shinseki offered, which was just a back of the envelope calculation during a hearing that still managed to make clear Rumsfield was blowing smoke.

          But yes, a four pager is just an outline, though even then four pages is just how Meadows described it, and Meadows is a notorious liar.

          Maybe what’s in the Meadows book is technically true but omits a lot of damning stuff Trump also talked about. Maybe there was no Milley memo at all but something else. Maybe there was a Milley memo on something else, someone else’s memo on Iran, and still more on other issues. The CNN article says what sources tell them is it’s not a Milley memo at all, but there’s no guarantee the sources know the big picture of what the prosecutors are after.

          It sounds like a narrowing down of possibilities, but even then I think there’s a lot more that may come out.

        • Badger Robert says:

          Did the document exist? Does is still exist? Trump wants to get into dialogue with Milley. That is incredibly dangerous to our republic.
          Please look into it further, if that’s within the scope of your operations.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          I have zero doubt that the Pentagon has a full set of plans and orders to be put in motion for the invasion of Iran. It’s what one does to avoid clusterfucks. For example, the 1991 war had excellent planning and was over quickly. The 2003 remake didn’t, on both counts.

          Any such plan will be well in excess of four pages, more like four filing cabinets given the key early objectives such as neutralizing Bandar Abbas and the rest of the coast to keep the Straits of Hormuz open. Plenty more, since I’ve sailed those waters and know there are a lot of threats to address.

          It’s no doubt a very high level executive summary, still classified for intentions reasons at the very least, but without details that Defendant-1 wouldn’t be able to grasp anyway. I’d think it probable that the Pentagon produced this to give Defendant-1 something to wave around. Since I do not see the date of this document in the reporting (I may have missed it) I’ll speculate this came after the ‘walk to church’ fiasco whereupon GEN Milley clamped down on what Defendant-1 would be allowed to see.

      • TPA_Kyle says:

        You can bet that battle plans have been drawn up for quite a number of possibilities. Even if the probability of using such a plan is quite low, it would suck to not have that plan in place and ready to implement in the event of an incident.

        • Sheri White says:

          Kind of like having a plan in place for a pandemic and having someone toss it so we have no plan when it actually happens…

        • Rayne says:

          It’s kind of a coincidence anti-Iran ideologue then-NSA John Bolton would have had a lot of interest in contingency plans to attack Iran AND also killed the pandemic forecasting/response system put in place during the Obama administration.

    • Troglodyte says:

      I think we are jumping to conclusions in regards to this being Iran invasion plans. Wouldn’t it be in character for trump to be holding and bragging about the attack plan targeting general Qasem Soleimani?

      • Alan_OrbitalMechanic says:

        Yeah, aware of that. Remember Jade Helm? Plans to take out Texas using Walmart basements as staging posts.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      Militaries routinely produce all sorts of plans because they don’t want to be caught flat-footed. Such plans also help to clarify thinking around allocations of finite resources and logistics. I wouldn’t read too much into their having dreamed up an invasion of Iran scenario.

      • Raven Eye says:

        I would expect CENTCOM to have a plans for a lot of different scenarios in that AOR.

        But grownups would understand their purpose — which would not include (in a normal world) using then to make a four-page summary for a man-child who happened to be President.

      • Marc in Denver says:

        I would think the Eisenhower aphorism about plans (useless) and planning (absolutely essential) would be applicable here

    • Beeker says:

      From the WaPo article: https://wapo.st/3CaaGV6

      > Milley never recommended attacking Iran, former military officials have said.

      > But people familiar with his briefings to the president said it was customary for the Pentagon to prepare numerous memos outlining various military options to respond to a foreign adversary, and Milley would outline the pros and cons of each option.

      > In discussing options for addressing Iran, the Pentagon did have a memo, which was not authored by Milley, for a military attack on Iran as one conceivable option, these people said.

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    • Nigel_01JUN2023_0330h says:

      I think they wargame all sorts of scenarios. I once read that there’s a US plan on the invasion of Canada.

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      • Rayne says:

        Yes, there are always contingency plans. But you’ll forgive me if I note you’re in the UK, do not appear to be a US citizen and unlikely to have experience in U.S. defense or law enforcement here.

        Someone else in this thread only a few comments above yours already mentioned a long-past plan related to Canada, including a Wiki link to support their point. Not a comparable situation whatsoever looking at Trump’s actions against Iran as well as his National Security Adviser John Bolton’s well-known animus toward Iran, or the interests of countries which may have compromised Trump to obtain action against Iran.

        • GeeSizzle says:

          We’re always making plans for Nigel.
          Nigel’s whole future is as good as sealed.

  2. Ellis Weiner says:

    Is it possible that Trump was lying about the document he was waving around? It would be like him (since he lies about everything). He would do it just to discredit Milley in the eyes of whomever was in the room. And, of course, he “couldn’t” show it to anyone, since it was “classified.” Also, the claim that Milley himself “typed up” so incendiary a document sounds implausible, but exactly like the kind of thing Trump would invent.

    • EwanWoodsend says:

      Like the piles of paper on a table during his financial disclosure PR stunt in 2016…

      • hollywood says:

        At the time of that stunt, Trump was represented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius (one of Ted Cruz’s old employers). I don’t recall anything about that respected firm having been involved in any of Trump’s current defense teams.

    • StevenL says:

      This is surely what his lawyers will argue if it comes to that–and it might be true! Would be interesting to know whether DOJ can show that he was in possession of such a document at the time, whether or not it’s what he waved in the recording.

    • Sandwichman says:

      General Milley, a big, strong man, had tears running down his face as he typed up the document.

    • BobBobCon says:

      It’s also possible Meadows lied in his autobiography to try to cover up what Trump was talking about.

      He had a very good motive to minimize risk to Trump when he talked to his ghostwriters, and may have worked out a sanitized version for publication.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      If the document exists (as apparently it does) and was either (a) returned to the archives, (b) seized in the search, or (c) found to be still missing, then it doesn’t matter whether it was the paper T**** was waving around. He possessed it & was citing its contents.

  3. Amicus12 says:

    Even if the document were among the 38 odd returned, or the hundred odd unlawfully held back, the worse could still have occurred seeing how most every one of us constantly carry around the equivalent of a Minox spy camera.

    This changes things. What was publicly known before was horrific. I think we’ve crossed the line to intolerable.

    • Peterr says:

      And recall that this meeting was recorded, likely by multiple people. It was part of a conversation to help with Mark Meadow’s memoirs, which (almost by definition) participants would want to record, take notes on, and otherwise memorialize.

      But you think we’ve crossed the line to intolerable? We crossed that line long, long ago. This is simply confirmation that we’re way off the edge of the map, past where it says “Here be dragons.”

      • Amicus12 says:

        Point taken; and in any event, degrees of the Inferno are more alike than different.

        This all makes me wonder even more, if the assassination of General Soleimani (portrayed as a response) was in fact intended as a provocation.

        • BruceF says:

          Timing of Trump’s request for Milley plan coincides more closely with Israeli assassination of nuclear scientist (Nov. 27, 2020) an attack that Trump was fully briefed upon by Bibi. Trump may very well have wished to jump in if Iran had retaliated against Israel. Milley was prescient to request any Trump orders be checked with him before any military response!

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Having a plan in case Iran attacked Israel isn’t a terrible idea. No doubt Trump found a different way to be stupid about the whole thing, however.

        • Rayne says:

          Let’s back up a moment. We’re making assumptions about a possible contingency plan and we’re not looking at the whole picture.

          Or have we forgotten Trump ordered Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani’s assassination by drone in January 2020? That’s just one example of a challenging situation which might have needed a contingency, around which Trump might have had an even larger plan in place.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          True. At the very least it was reasonable to update the plans for a confrontation with Iran. And didn’t we almost bomb Iran at one point, with Trump changing his mind after the planes were in the air?

        • Rayne says:

          Can you share a link to any story about that near-bombing? I’m juggling too many things right now but I want to try to put that into the chronology to flesh out context.

          Still thinking of that attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia which was attributed to Yemen, and how oil production didn’t drop as much anticipated in spite of the attack. The entire situation was hinky, and I need to add that to the timeline as well.

        • Amicus12 says:

          Here is a link to a detailed NYT article about the events surrounding the Suleimani assassination.

          Seven Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War

          The short takeaway is that Trump is portrayed as acting aggressively, freaking most everyone out, including the Saudis, and by back door diplomacy deescalated the situation. Trump was prepared to go further if Iran retaliated significantly, including a cyber-attack to shut down the Iranian oil fields. How much is true, is hard to say.

          There is also an internal link to a paywalled article about an episode in June 2019 where Trump apparently ordered a stand down in bombing by a few minutes.

          I find it hard to believe that none of his advisors told him that assassinating the General could well start a war with Iran.

          It’s hard to know what General Milley might have had in mind in terms of an invasion plan. If you look at a geographic feature map of Iran, it’s not a place you want to invade. It’s basically a fortress ringed by mountains and ocean. Iran’s problem is defending the oil fields along the Persian Gulf.

          And with a population of 70 million people, you would need a huge military force if you intended to occupy the country; Rand’s rule of thumb of 1 per 50 translates into 1.4 million troops. Perhaps Milley was intending to show how the whole thing would be infeasible.

        • Max404 says:

          Trump takes orders. He hasn’t had an original idea once in his life. It would be interesting to see a timeline around contacts with Saudi Arabia around the time in question; my guess is that they told him to prepare to attack Iran.

  4. Zirc says:

    I’m sure the Pentagon maintains and updates plans for all kinds of crazy scenarios. The existence of these plans doesn’t mean the JCS wants to execute them.


    • Phaedruses says:

      During my time in the Army, as commander, I reviewed quite a few plans that related to my unit and possible missions we would be tasked with in different deployment scenarios. Most were never going to happen except in extreme circumstances. If you do not make plans, no matter how remote the possibility for needing them, then when something unforeseen happens you have no plan.

      Given the instability in the middle east, and Iran’s hand in much of it, we have plans in case we need them. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, we had plans for the defense of Saudi Arabia, since we agreed to that from Nixon’s time in office. The leadership of Central Command then created and executed a plan to free Kuwait out of the Saudi plan. My unit followed the plan for deployment to the Saudi theater, and did the mission requirements laid out in that plan.

  5. Katherine Williams says:

    “If this is among the documents that DOJ thinks Trump didn’t return, then we have problems, especially given Jack Smith’s focus on Trump’s LIV golf deal, because this is the kind of document that the Saudis would pay billions of dollars for.”

    Trump would never pass up a chance at billions of dollars.

  6. Badger Robert says:

    Max’s mini series White House Plu.mbers is a good reminder that when Watergate destroyed people’s lives, Nixon got off with a pardon. I suspect that part of the deal between Ford and Nixon, with the Senators watching, was that no one else got a pardon. The current situation is far worse

  7. Jharp jharp says:

    “this is the kind of document that the Saudis would pay billions of dollars for”

    Of course this was a document worth billions of dollars.

    I’m not buying any of the talk that it was Trump’s ego, or that Trump felt the documents belonged to him, for his keeping them.

    It’s the money.

    • Capecodmercury says:

      I’ll admit that this is a concern I share. It could easily be the equivalent of one of his “sir” stories. So, unless the DOJ has managed to recover the document or can conclusively point to the creation of the document and demonstrate that it is missing, then I think it would be hard to demonstrate a 793 claim.

      But, his admissions on the other hand are pretty damming. It certainly put the lie to his claims that he could declassify anything at any time.

    • gulageten says:

      Some combination of both? Money and ego can be very much intertwined, perhaps indistinguishably so for some people.

      But I would also point out that willingness to pay billions and a product being worth billions are two different things. There’s always a chance the customer gets screwed, even when the customer (such as in your hypothetical) is smarter than the dealer.

  8. vigetnovus says:

    I think the document is real. I also think, similar to Peterr, Trump is lying about Milley actually drafting it and supporting it. Milley was probably ordered to update some plan DoD has had on the shelf by that nutjob Bolton when he was NSA, and was forced to brief the president and the security council about it.

    And finally, I would bet dollars to doughnuts DOJ does not have this document. It’s probably one reason they knew Trump hadn’t turned over everything in the subpoena, nor in the subsequent searches.

    Last data point: on July 15th, McCarthy was meeting with Trump. That’s the day the New Yorker Milley article was published…. Interesting coincidence.

  9. Gatorbaiter says:

    Does an espionage or other criming affect an ex-president’s “benefits for life” like secret service protection or salary?

    • P J Evans says:

      Impeachment, conviction, and removal from office might. I don’t know about other cases.

    • Peterr says:

      I believe a felony conviction and the subsequent prison sentence would result in the US Bureau of Prisons taking over protection duty from the Secret Service.

      And if it is a big enough felony, he’d get that benefit for life.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        Speaking of contingency plans, this is one scenario for which I bet there has never been one! But if I was running the secret service, I’d have to acknowledge that prison isn’t a very safe place for a former president, so maybe I’d have to develop a plan for placing agents in the prison. Not a coveted assignment, I’m sure!

  10. Kafantaris George says:

    Meadows’ account is that Trump refers to a four-page report supposedly “typed up by Mark Milley, himself. It contained the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      LOL. Milley would no more type up this sort of work than would Trump, and Milley would know how to spell and type. It reads like junior high school level Trump propaganda.

    • cmarlowe says:

      A four page report could only be a high level summary. An actual invasion plan would comprise many, many pages. That Trump would never read.

      • BSChief1 says:

        Totally agree. Four pages is about three beyond Trump’s attention span. I would assume that even an executive summary/overview of the Pentagon’s plan for a hypothetical Iran invasion would have tremendous value that Trump could monetize or trade for non financial favors.

  11. punaise says:

    “Tap, tap, tap… is this thing on?”

    The flies on the wall are drawn by the steaming pile of pooh that is Trumpworld.

  12. Thomas_H says:

    Since the DOJ and Jack Smith have been very disciplined about not releasing or leaking information about their multiple investigations; who’s talking to the journalists about this?

    • BruceF says:

      Smith’s folks have been solid, most likely source would be authors of Meadows memoir. But that book lost it’s cache when Cassidy Hutchinson changed attorneys and testified about Jan 6.

      One troubling thought…the leading candidate for the Republicans is a man our nations highest ranking military officer needed to tell his subordinates, “IGNORE HIS ORDERS HE IS CRAZY!”


      [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. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • TimothyB says:

      CNN is moderately careful not to out its “multiple sources” in the three-byline story at https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/31/politics/trump-tape-classified-document-iran-milley/index.html

      I saw two more clued pointers to sources within the broader carefulness.

      Someone told them it was “important evidence.” Attorney for an interested party, such as a witness? Witness who had been at the GJ? They claim to have a source who knows this came up at the GJ.
      Second, “The document Trump references was not produced by Milley, CNN was told.” The word “produced” seems careful here, one interpretation is narrow, Milley didn’t type it himself. Half the world could have told CNN that. The broader interpretation would be consistent with someone in Milley’s camp being the source. The rest of the specifics about sources don’t have any info.

  13. Unabogie says:

    Just to reiterate here:

    “On the recording and in response to the story, Trump brings up the document, which he says came from Milley. Trump told those in the room that if he could show it to people, it would undermine what Milley was saying, the sources said.”

    This demolishes the claim that Trump declassified these documents with his mind. Here he was, in his own words, confirming that the docs were still secret.

  14. derelict says:

    who’s testimony can they get that would validate this new evidence? anyone present at the meeting would have had to have a close enough view of the document to confirm a) its classified status and b) its content in order to believably confirm the document was actually present, unless i’m missing something… many signs point to it, yes, but nothing the defense couldn’t swat away with a claim of ‘it was a bluff’?

    • P J Evans says:

      Apparently it was recorded on the laptop of someone in the room, who has talked to the investigators.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      If nothing else, it proves that Trump understood how classification works, even if it can’t be proved which document he was waving around.

      • P J Evans says:

        Trusty, the lawyer, claimed on TV this evening that Trmp was declassifying stuff on the plane to Mar-al-Ego on 1/20/2021. Which…he didn’t have the power, because he wasn’t president then.

        • Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

          Trusty: Oh yeah? Well the plane was going so fast the calendar went back a day!

  15. bmaz says:

    Motive is almost never a required element for conviction of a crime. But juries sure like to hear of motive.

    But this tape, assuming authentic, and that a proper foundation for admissibility can be laid in court, sure goes a long way toward establishing “willfully”, i.e. mens rea. In lay terms, intent. That is truly critical.

  16. bmaz says:

    A correlative question I have is how the fuck is Jim Trusty running around to every TV camera he can find and yakking about the state of a case he actually represented Trump on, not to mention potential future cases Trump could be involved in as a defendant?? Not sure I have seen anything like that before. Truly beyond inappropriate, if not downright unethical, to my eye.

    • Peterr says:

      Not sure I have seen anything like that before.

      Have you seen Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and the rest of Squeal Team Trump? Yakking in front of every TV camera they can find has been a job requirement for Trump’s lawyers, with the caveat that they cannot overshadow their client and his images on TV.

      See, for example, Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, none of those were formally representing Trump in relation to grand jury investigations. Not similar in the least. And Trusty’s reputation was supposedly one of competence, the others not so much.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      I can’t remember the name of the attorney that represented Stormy Daniels (or don’t want to repeat it.) I think I saw him on multiple T.V. shows simultaneously. Perhaps he’s enjoying his justice desserts.

      • bmaz says:

        Michael Avenatti. He is not doing well currently. Once a decent trial atty, then kablooey!

  17. Savage Librarian says:

    It’s interesting that Margo Martin was specifically mentioned in the CNN report. She also is Deputy Director of Communications for his Save America PAC. According to an article from CNN in March, she appeared before a grand jury where “one of special counsel Jack Smith’s senior-most prosecutors was involved in her interview.”

    I wonder which Trump attorney represented her then and I wonder who represents her now.


  18. Michael1976 says:

    Interesting. The New York Times just claimed that Yuscil Taveras, a Mar-a-Lago employee, testified before the documents grand jury “two weeks ago”. But the Washington Post claimed that time the documents grand jury met was May 5. Maybe the Washington Post doesn’t know about all the grand jury meetings?

  19. SonofaWW2Marine says:

    It’s never wise to trust any summary of a recorded conversation. If the summary comes from a law enforcement agency (or other interested party), it’s downright unwise to do so. In 22 years as an Ass’t US Att’y & DOJ lawyer, I ran into that time after time. We all tend to hear what we want to hear. Even careful cops & prosecutors, never mind ghostwriters trying to help their boss, can make that mistake in complete good faith. Throw in Trump’s gift for vague ambiguities, and we all have good reason for caution. “Trust, but verify.”

  20. Ewan Woodsend says:

    Today in The Guardian you can read Parlatore’s account of what happens in the legal team. The funny part is when Hugo Lowell writes “The conversation was overheard by this Guardian reporter who happened to be sitting at the table next to them” . He was sitting within earshot of Trusty when he vented about Epshteyn to Halligan and Corcoran.

    • Fran of the North says:

      That is poetic justice if I’ve ever heard it. All the times that Trump was overheard while sitting at a table discussing things which should have remained confidential…

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Straight up legal malpractice. Voided any client confidentiality in what was overheard by a non-lawyer, making resort to the crime-fraud exception moot. Ought to lead to sanctions for those lawyers

      • bmaz says:

        The sloppiness by all of Trump’s attys is mind numbing, but especially as to supposed professionals like Parlatore and Trusty. I am gobsmacked by it all.

  21. Rayne says:

    I’ve read and re-read this excerpt included in WaPo’s article and it sure sounds like Meadows relaying one of Trump’s “Sir” stories.

    “The boss leans back in his chair, dressed in a sport coat and a crisp white shirt that’s open at the neck. He looks at least twenty pounds lighter than he was in office,” Meadows’s book says. “The president recalls a four-page report typed up by Mark Milley himself. It contains the general’s own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency. President Trump denied those requests every time.”

    I would love to know if in Trump’s recollection Milley ever said “sir” while allegedly urging Trump to attack Iran.

        • Paulka says:

          Or denser

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    • Rayne says:

      There are also covers which appear to be legitimate in the upper left of photo.

      This is a good point and yet pursuing this in any detail ends up derailing the discussion about the likely charges Trump faces which are already quite firm — it’s the Killian documents controversy and the typeface kerning argument about Bush in TANG all over again, a redirection of energy at a suboptimum time.

      • LargeMoose says:

        I’m sure the investigators involved knew this, and have just added this as another indicator of culpability. I found it interesting because I wasn’t aware of the copying since I’d never seen an actual cover sheet, and figured others hadn’t either, and might be interested.

        • Rayne says:

          There’s been speculation about using “covers” as placeholders since those photos were published after the FBI executed the warrant. It leads us to the same place, that he mishandled classified material, touched it after he left office, potentially sharing it with others, so on.

        • Thorvold says:

          There are 2 major possibilities:
          1. That the documents were copied after they left government control. This is the bad one that will make all of the security types gasp.
          2. That the government ran out of original coversheets and made coversheet copies for internal use with the documents while they were still in government control and then TFG kept the document with coversheet intact. A copied coversheet is better than no coversheet at all. Given that running out of supplies is a perennial office issue, this one is not too far-fetched. This means that one of the security design considerations (identification of copies) for why the coversheets were full-bleed is defeated, but security types would only cringe at this.

          I don’t have a great handle on how tagging/serial numbering of documents for tracking is done, so this might be more of an issue there. detailed inspection of the documents or seeing if the copies were made after the serial number was attached would make a difference.

  22. Metaphorplay says:

    @emptywheel There is a typo in this sentence:

    “Though if he ever did share it with people, it could exposure him to more serious levels of the Espionage Act.”

    I believe you meant “expose”

    Also: Do you think the document in question will likely remain classified if this goes to trial? I think they can prosecute without declassification, but wouldn’t it (or the judge) make the charges more difficult to prosecute?

  23. Dave Karson says:

    As always a great website, thank you Marcy for your tireless efforts. Regarding this subject, I would think a document of a hypothetical attack on Iran would be classified Top Secret and not Secret? If it fell it into the wrong hands, would it not be “exceptionally grave damage” to national security? TIA.

  24. David_24MAR2018_1208h says:

    Um. Sorry, I do not find in Hugo Lowell’s version of this (the Guardian, May 31, 2023, modified June 1) that “(p)rosecutors have shown the actual document to grand jury witnesses.” We read, “Prosecutors in the office of special counsel Jack Smith appear to have obtained the recording around March, as…numerous Trump aides were subpoenaed to testify before the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the case in Washington. The tape was played to multiple witnesses, including Martin, when she testified in mid-March…The first time the Trump lawyers learned about the tape was after Martin testified, one of the sources said.”

    The tape recording, and not the document itself, seems to have been presented to the grand jury, as I read it.

    This jumped out at me here, because so many pundits wonder whether such a document even actually exists, or whether it is more of Trump bullshitting in order to wreak revenge on a critic, Milley. (Either way, whether the document exists or not, they say, the tape goes to Trump’s knowledge of his limits regarding his declassification powers and the sharing of closely guarded secrets.)


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    • bmaz says:

      Uh, yeah, this, among other critical questions, has been the issue since the first moment the CNN report was published.

  25. Robot17 says:

    Me wonders what all of these idiotic schemes and their potential convictions will amount to if sentencing comes around for TFG. Say he goes down for some of these and gets convicted in NY or Georgia. Will he end up being the Wilt Chamberlain of sentencing points and actually get thrown away for 60 months or some such for a relatively minor federal conviction because of priors or vice-versa?

  26. RyanEvans says:

    With the classified documents scandal now becoming a case of ad hominem attack, Marcey has come full circle back to where the blog started.

  27. wasD4v1d says:

    I’m not sure the document heard rustling on the tape was anything more than t he evening’s dinner menu (which does not dismiss its true value, tfg on tape acknowledging he committed a crime). But this particular episode is Trump’s revenge for Milley publicly pre-empting a wag the dog attack on Iran, plans Milley knew about because he reportedly drew them up himself….probably on Trump’s orders.

  28. MsJennyMD says:

    “If you’re the president of the United States you can declassify just by saying ‘it’s declassified,’ even by thinking about it.” Trump to Hannity on Fox News, Sept 21, 2022

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Next time, try a truth sandwich. Explain why what you’re quoting is a lie, provide a minimal quote, so as not to give it legs, then say again why the statement is a lie. Bald quotes propagate the lie.

  29. dimmsdale says:

    Marcy, THANK YOU. I’m so glad to know how on-top of all this stuff you are; I generally take everything I read elsewhere with a grain of salt (especially from the “post-prosecutorial punditry”) until I read it here. The thing I miss most about the Twitter sidebar contents here is notification that your’re doing Nicole Sandler’s show–your appearances there are “cherry on top” moments for me. Grateful to you and all the astute commenters here!

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