In March, DOJ Asked Trump for the Iran Document; In April, DOJ Asked for His Saudi Business Records

Remember how I responded to CNN’s scoop that DOJ had recordings of Trump bragging about a document describing a plan to attack Iran that he acknowledged remained classified?

I suggested that if DOJ knew he had the document in July 2021, but didn’t find it in the documents returned in January 2022 or June 2022 or August 2022, then we’d have problems.

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.

CNN has a follow-up, revealing that after Margo Martin was asked about the recording in her March grand jury appearance, DOJ subpoenaed Trump for the document.

His lawyers couldn’t find it.

Attorneys for Donald Trump turned over material in mid-March in response to a federal subpoena related to a classified US military document described by the former president on tape in 2021 but were unable to find the document itself, two sources tell CNN.


Prosecutors sought “any and all” documents and materials related to Mark Milley, Trump’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Iran, including maps or invasion plans, the sources say. A similar subpoena was sent to at least one other attendee of the meeting, another source tells CNN.

The sources say prosecutors made clear to Trump’s attorneys after issuing the subpoena that they specifically wanted the Iran document he talked about on tape as well as any material referencing classified information – like meeting notes, audio recordings or copies of the document – that may still be Trump’s possession.

That was in March.

In April, DOJ asked Trump for records on — among other things — his business ties to the Saudis.

The Trump Organization swore off any foreign deals while he was in the White House, and the only such deal Mr. Trump is known to have made since then was with a Saudi-based real estate company to license its name to a housing, hotel and golf complex that will be built in Oman. He struck that deal last fall just before announcing his third presidential campaign.

The push by Mr. Smith’s prosecutors to gain insight into the former president’s foreign business was part of a subpoena — previously reported by The New York Times — that was sent to the Trump Organization and sought records related to Mr. Trump’s dealings with a Saudi-backed golf venture known as LIV Golf, which is holding tournaments at some of his golf clubs. (Mr. Trump’s arrangement with LIV Golf was reached well after he removed documents from the White House.)

Collectively, the subpoena’s demand for records related to the golf venture and other foreign ventures since 2017 suggests that Mr. Smith is exploring whether there is any connection between Mr. Trump’s deal-making abroad and the classified documents he took with him when he left office.

In March, DOJ asked for this Iran document Trump boasted on tape of having at Bedminster in July 2021, but his lawyers couldn’t find it.

In April, DOJ asked for records describing how and when he made a deal to host Saudi golf tournaments, and for how much.

In May, DOJ got Trump’s Chief Operating Officer to explain what he knew about gaps in the five months of surveillance footage Trump Organization turned over.

174 replies
  1. David F. Snyder says:

    Here’s a reminder from January 2016:

    In any event, I don’t have to wonder any more if that Milley-related document was returned or not. I presume this is just one of many rotten deals that the trumpeter-fire made with foreigners. Hopefully this is the bit that rids us of this horrific carpet-bagger and his enablers.

    Thanks for this added perspective, Marcie.

  2. Michael K says:

    Is there an externally maintained record of who received each copy of a classified document, including if it’s the POTUS?

    Or do DOJ & the Archives not have the tools to piece together the set of all classified document IDs that were ever given to TFG and have not since been accounted for?

    • timbozone says:

      Oh yes, they have tools… that might not be able to work past the tools that had the documents.

    • Tech Support says:

      This came up in prior threads. As I remember, there’s no way to ensure that every printed copy of a classified document is serialized and inventoried.

      • Michael K says:

        Thank you.
        So to the extent that some of them are serialized and inventoried they should be able to construct a list of any unaccounted for inventoried docs(?)
        And if the previously seized materials included a mixture of inventoried and non-inventoried docs maybe they could use the ratio to estimate the total number of missing docs?
        Would someone easily be able to tell just by looking at a document whether or not it was serialized and/or inventoried?

        • Shadowalker says:

          Archivist testified recently. There is no standard procedure and each administration is different in how documents are handled. Even the different agencies are different, who are also required to hand over all documents to the archivist under the Federal Records Act.

          Complicating things further is the standalone server in the White House that stores a number of classified documents. When a document is needed for a meeting, copies are printed out and are typically destroyed in burn bags after they are no longer needed. A lot of these docs could have come from that server, and no way to even know if proper protocols were followed or even needed since the whole White House is technically a SCIF.

        • Shadowalker says:

          Anybody in the meeting, an aide or whomever is around that knows proper handling.

        • mass interest says:

          From Michael K’s comment on down here, the phrase “proper handling” seems ripe for a Trump take-it-to-the-wall defense, especially if the process differs from administration to administration. Jeesh!

    • smf88011 says:

      From my LANL days working in classified facilities, you are supposed to have all copies of a document tracked and secured. Having said that, the VTR that the RRW team worked in, and the 1st and 2nd floor SCIF in the Ad Building had copiers in them. In the NSSB, there were just a few printers on the classified network but virtually every office area had a large copier available. What does all of this mean? That the securing and storage of classified documents is only as good as its weakest link. I am sure that this is the case today and proof of it happened earlier this year with the Teixeira case.

  3. John Forde says:

    Were Trump’s lawyers unable to find the Iran doc because MBS drove a hard bargain for the LIV deal and demanded Trump sell him the original? I mean, Trump would have very right to sell it to MBS…

    & what is DJT referring to when he says “They paid Nixon 16 million for his docs”

    • Dmbeaster says:

      He is referring to this.,SETTLEMENT%20OVER%20NIXON%20PRESIDENTIAL%20PAPERS&text=WASHINGTON%2C%20DC%20%2D%20The%20government%20has,the%20Justice%20Department%20announced%20today.

      The DOJ and Nixon litigated about who owned Nixon’s presidential papers. The litigation was settled by paying Nixon to get all of the papers back. Because of that crap, the law was modernized in 1978 to make it clear that the papers are US property, and not that of the president.

      Being the ignorant git that he is, Trump wants to get the Nixon deal for “his” presidential papers. The ship sailed on that claim 45 years ago.

    • RMD says:

      June 13, 2000
      The federal government has agreed to pay $18 million to the estate of Richard Nixon to settle claims that the Watergate tapes and other presidential materials were improperly seized by the government in 1974 without compensation.

      Shortly after Nixon’s resignation in 1974, Congress decreed that the General Services Administration, the parent agency of the National Archives, should seize all his White House recordings and papers to guarantee that Nixon would not destroy them.

      Until that time, presidents traditionally were free to take all their papers and other historic materials with them into retirement. But Congress made an exception in Nixon’s case because he was the first president to resign in a criminal scandal.

    • cmarlowe says:

      Not sure what “original” would mean here. The document in question was likely created with word processing software (like Microsoft word) on a classified computer. Every print out is a copy.

      • trnc2023 says:

        The first printed document is the original, and I would presume that printing and/or copying of classified docs is so highly restricted that there should be very few copies (before DT whisked it away).

        • cmarlowe says:

          >> The first printed document is the original

          No. You really don’t know anything about this.

        • trnc2023 says:

          I don’t mind being wrong, but you can either spend 30 seconds to explain you understand an original document to be or you can just lob insults.

        • cmarlowe says:

          No bullshit here. Littleoldlady71 is exactly right. As for evidence, it is based on my own work experience with more than one 3-letter agency, about which I can’t say much. If you want more, find someone with a security clearance that you have confidence in that is willing to talk to you about this.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I am not sure that she, or you, has the specific facts to back that up. Not in the least. May be right, may not be, I don’t know and neither do you. Stating with positivity is ridiculous. Secondly, I know tons of people with security clearances, and the lawyers who represent them. So, thanks for the help, we’ll be just fine.

        • cmarlowe says:

          When trnc2023 stated with positivity, “The first printed document is the original…”, you didn’t ask for the evidence for that.

        • bmaz says:

          I am asking for supportive facts. None of you appear to have any, more than speculation. And saying that the original is the original means nothing more than the obvious.

        • cmarlowe says:

          At the top of this sub-thread, John Forde referred to “the original” of the classified document under discussion as if it had some special significance. It does not.

          The word “original” remains undefined here. A 3rd generation Xerox copy of the 5th print out has the same classified information (and classification level) as the digital version created on the hard drive. That information is what has value.

          In any case, if you think it is important, since you know many cleared individuals you can always ask and find out whether or not I am right. In the meantime people can read this and make their own judgements.

        • bmaz says:

          You are full of shit. John Forde, who, unlike you, I personally know, does not know what form “the original” was in, much less related to Trump, and neither do you. You are just blowing bullshit. Yes, I indeed know said people, and, no, I am not going to waste their time with this tripe. Find a different hobby.

        • cmarlowe says:

          LOL. While for you this may be a hobby, for me it certainly is not. There are a lot of things I am afraid of these days. You are not one of them.

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t give a flying fuck what you are “afraid of”, you remain blowing shit out of your ass. Don’t do that here. Neither you, nor the little old lady, knows jack about what the “original document” is, if it even exists as described, or anything else.

          You do not know more than anybody else. You are just gaslighting readers here with bullshit, and you very much need to stop.

        • cmarlowe says:

          Gaslighting ? — I never knew I was so adept at psychological manipulation. You give me too much credit (and your readers too little).

        • bmaz says:

          Seriously, get lost. You are totally spewing things you do not know. Readers should understand that. And you need to be gone.

        • bbs_03JUN2023_2004h says:

          in this case the original document is the one one with General Milley’s handwritten notes on it. This is why he was called back to the grand jury.
          from what i have read.

          [Welcome to emptywheel. 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. Because your username is far too short it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • bidrec says:

        When the SEC wanted “the original” copy of the Word documents of my former employer they would subpoena the hard drive. Word had a macro that would change the date on correspondence to the time that the document was opened by the PC.

        Lawyers at the firm insisted on WordPerfect.

        • bmaz says:

          WordPerfect was LIGHT YEARS better, in pretty much every regard, than MS Word. And almost certainly still is. The problem is everybody, including courts and efile systems, went solely to Word.

        • Shadowalker says:

          Word was how they captured BTK the serial killer. He even got upset because they lied to him.

        • wetzel says:

          After decades of thinking MS Word has sucked through many versions on many platforms going back to the eighties I will say the new version is okay once you get used to all the buttons, and it’s starting to think for me and autocomplete with complex ideas which is pretty cool.

        • dadidoc1 says:

          Back in the day, I was pretty good at creating document macros in Wordperfect. Nothing in Word comes even close.

        • bmaz says:

          No, it does not! And the “pleading paper” options are far less. Still. There were things I could do in the early 90’s in WP that I still cannot do in Word. Word has gotten better, but still not the same.

        • theartistvvv says:

          I loved and used Word Perfect for years, and I currently use both Sun Open Office and the latest MS Word, as necessary (only willing to pay for the MS on one computer out of my 6 in use).

          But my fave primary word processors are Lotus Word Pro, and Note Pad.

          I’m old and happy to be so.

        • cmarlowe says:

          >> When the SEC wanted “the original” copy of the Word documents of my former employer they would subpoena the hard drive

          Exactly. That is what Littleoldlady71 implied with the word “digital.”

    • timbozone says:

      About the inverse odds that Jack Smith’s investigators and federal judges would be wasting their time here?

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, jeebus, you don’t know shit about what Smith is doing or what “odds” are. Please stop with garbage.

    • Tech Support says:

      Given that Milley was the reported author of the document, and given that DOJ asked for the document while Milley was available to confirm it’s existence, I’d say the odds are 100% that the document actually exists somewhere in some fashion.

      Given what was reported as having been on the recording, I’d say the odds that Trump was in possession of a copy of the document post-presidency is also 100%.

      Whether the “rustling papers” was the rustling of the actual document or simply Trump being theatrical? That’s a crapshoot at this point. It certainly sounds however based on the CNN reporting that DOJ has been trying to figure out if it was the actual document and if people in the room saw it when they shouldn’t have.

      The big question for me here is that, given the failure to return the document, if DOJ is contemplating getting a warrant to raid Bedminster like they did Mar-a-Lago.

      • bmaz says:

        Not sure I would take the CNN report as gospel. Let’s see how the facts play out when real facts come in to play.

      • Shadowalker says:

        Only the info is classified. Not the paper it’s printed on. There are likely a number of copies, but they are only concerned about that one. The whole idea of classification is controlling who has access to that information.

        • bughunter says:

          > Only the info is classified. Not the paper it’s printed on.

          Indeed. I once drew up a diagram for a specific use case as part of a proposal for using aerial surveillance in combat. I used only unclassified information given in an AFRL RFP to work with.

          During review and editing, our security officer, a former JTAC (forward air controller) took one look at it and said, “Destroy that, and delete the file. It’s classified.”

          “What? I used unclassified info to make this…”

          “Doesn’t matter,” she said. “That CONOP is classified. Congratulations on coming up with the same idea we did but that idea is classified. Collect and destroy all copies.”

          Fortunately, I consulted her before printing more than 4 copies.

        • RipNoLonger says:

          Likewise. I was the author of a report on several insecurities in the then-US WWMCCS (pre-MILNET). As soon as I submitted the report, it was further classified and I could no longer see it – even tho I maintained my security clearances. Collating less sensitive information can raise the security level of the product.

  4. Amicus12 says:

    An interesting time line to be sure. Plainly, General Milley knows if such a document exists.

    In somewhat arguably related news, the Saudi’s are still pursuing the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons and are seeking the Biden Administration’s agreement to an arrangement that would allow the KSA the ability to enrich nuclear fuel within Saudi Arabia.

    The détente that China claims to have brokered between the Saudis and Iran may have all the durability of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

    • emptywheel says:

      Reports are that it’s an earlier report, from before November 2019.

      It’s not impossible that some of this leaking is coming from Milley’s neighborhood.

      • Amicus12 says:

        I may have been unclear with my verb choice. Milley would certainly know if he authored a four page synopsis of an invasion plan of Iran that matches the description of the document. And are there witnesses who can place (or have placed) that document in Trump’s possession (at the July meeting or otherwise) after he left the White House? Because that would leave him in a very difficult place – of his own making.

  5. Narpington says:

    The CNN story wasn’t conclusive that Trump actually kept the document (“as if” twice):

    “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.”

    OTOH this “Not really” suggests he kept something though it may just be the usual Trumpian obfuscatory, resentful response to being questioned:

    “When asked at a CNN town hall this month if he showed classified documents he kept after the presidency to anyone, Trump answered: “Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified after.” ”

    Asking those present would possibly have cleared this up but this story isn’t definite.

  6. BobBobCon says:

    I’d be awfully curious if the US knows much about any deals based on intel they’ve gotten from watching the Saudis.

    Obviously that’s a minefield to expose in legal procedings, so I don’t know if there are any possible avenues to help prosecutors without revealing critical intelligence.

    • emptywheel says:

      I have pointed out repeatedly that the US was unusually suprised by Saudi actions twice in the last year, which is the kind of thing that would happen if their intelligence had gone dark.

      • SteveinMA says:

        Marcy – RE: your observation that US intelligence may have gone dark. Are you hinting that or is there a possibility that this was a result of Trump giving the Saudis intelligence info that reduced the US ability to keep tabs on the Saudis? I don’t mean to be caught up in any conspiracy theories, but this would seem to be kind of info worth serious $$$$ to the Saudis.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yes. That is precisely what I mean.

          When the US is utterly shocked by something its decades-long ally does, there’s a reason. Stupidity, especially under Tony Blinken and William Burns, is likely not the reason.

        • bmaz says:

          “Stupidity, especially under Tony Blinken and William Burns, is likely not the reason.”

          Nope. Say what you will about those two, they are pretty knowledgeable and smart. It is not stupidity.

        • Frank Anon says:

          Not to risk the wrath of bmaz, but if the inference is that Trump sold military secrets to Saudi Arabia, or in some way sold secrets that benefitted Iran, would this be considered treasonous behavior? There seem to be two witnesses, there seems to be aid and comfort, but would these countries be considered Enemies?

        • bmaz says:

          No we are not at war with Saudi Arabia. Also, witnesses to what? Was there even really a document in his hand of any classified nature? Did anything in his hand relate to Iran and war? Or was this yet another “Sir story”? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

        • Rayne says:

          You know what? I have fucking had enough of this crap with grossly uninformed comments asking about treason when there is no declared state of war and therefore no formally recognized enemy.

          The word “treason” will go into Auto-moderation to flag all such comments as potentially problematic here on forward, since community members who have been here as long as Frank Anon who continue to ask these kinds of questions do so in bad faith.

          p.s. Folks had best be fucking worried about pissing me off with uninformed and bad faith questions about treason. Absolutely fed up with this line of thinking after years of the same questions and the same answers.

        • Rayne says:

          I’ve avoided it as long as possible in the interest of allowing open dialog, but after this long and so many explanations it’s DDoS-ing threads with this bad faith. The words “treason” or “treasonous” have come up roughly 500 times since 2017 in comments and whatever the subject it’s never been treason.

          It’s just an excuse for trolling, to be blunt.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Having read your explanations of the definition of “T-Word,” I’ve never used it in a post. But I don’t think everyone who has was trolling. My sense, from reading a number of those comments, is that people tend to use the term loosely to refer to any actions that seriously betray the interests of the actor’s nation, rather than cleaving to a proper legal definition they probably don’t know. But maybe you’ve seen posts using the word that do carry troll-smell.

        • bmaz says:

          Nobody that reads here should have any question about the proper usage of the word. And if newbies wander in to spew that garbage, yes, they are trolling us. I have been explaining this off and on for a very long time, and well before J6. There is no reason commenters cannot get it right at this point.

        • Rayne says:

          No. I can even predict which regular commenters will ask the same question about the term to the point where some are on moderation. When they have been told repeatedly over the course of 5-10 years what the term means, how it’s never that term, they are just plain trolling.

          We do not owe a post on this issue to explain what is readily researchable. We expect a higher caliber of participation here, this is not a basic entry-level or even remedial site. Newbies may get a bite if they appear to be acting in good faith, but even newbies should do their homework on basic terminology before jumping in. It’s just not that difficult in the age of the internet.

          But we know bloody well after ~16 years which regular commenters are trolling us with persistent bad faith baloney.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Expanding on EW’s comment, there is a value in what is there as well as what is no longer there. The money flows tell the quid, and it appears that the pro quo was to alert MBS about the network within the KSA so he could remove them. Perhaps Khashoggi was a conduit, but even allowing for the Byzantine nature of kingdom politics, the purge of the royal family seemed to be far more thorough than just removing contenders to MBS gaining the throne.

          Time to flesh out the ‘whys’.

          As for any potential rapprochement of Iran and KSA, it’s not likely due to religious grounds as the Sunni-Shia rift has lasted for over 1300 years despite threats from crusaders and other enemies of the faith. Wahhabi Sunnis like the KSA royal family are fanatics, as are the mullahs in Qom Iran and that limits compromise opportunities. The USA is not enough of a threat to their existence to band together.

          I would look at Russian or Chinese money being behind the BRICS gambit (remember India is already compromised in this way) as a way to drive wedges into support for Ukraine and Taiwan. IIRC both Xi and Vlad have projects going in Iran.

      • BobBobCon says:

        I think that’s a good point. One thing I’d note is that intelligence agencies have traditionally been cautious about using Intel for fear of exposing sources. If they were using Intel from Trump for anything major like slamming the Biden administration, it’s possible they may have left clues pointing to Trump in ways he’d prefer not to have been revealed. But I don’t know what the US knows or if they’ll reveal anything.

  7. vigetnovus says:

    I surmised as much in the “lordy there are tapes” thread.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit from 2 weeks ago. I missed this, but according to CNN, Mark Meadows played a very important and behind the scenes role in advising the Freedom Caucus on how to get concessions from McCarthy to make him speaker and in how to negotiate with regards to the debt limit deal. The Freedom Caucus would often meet at CPI, the thinktank where he worked.

    This is very very interesting because McCarthy himself was at Bedminster on July 15th 2021 meeting with Trump, which is the most likely date of the audiotape meeting (it’s the day the New Yorker article about Milley came out). I wonder if McCarthy used any conversation he had with Trump to his advantage, and in the process put pressure on Meadows. In fact, as a member of the Gang of 8, Trump could have legally shown him that document…..

      • FLwolverine says:

        I suspect he meant that it was legal for McCarthy to look at the paper because McCarthy was a member of the gang of 8. But that begs the question: since it was illegal for Trump to possess the paper, was it illegal for him to show it to McCarthy, regardless of McCarthy’s clearance level? Or maybe that’s just demons dancing on a pinhead.

        • timbozone says:

          Pretty sure it wasn’t illegal for Trump to show it to McCarthy if McCarthy had specific authorization to view it.

        • bmaz says:

          Who is “trmp”? WHY do people here insist on being so petty as to refuse to print the name? Do you and they want your comment to be unsearcable? Do you and they want the full range of this post to not be seen? Seriously, this bunk is really painful.

        • P J Evans says:

          bmaz, I know you aren’t stupid. Can you respect that some of us refuse to use his name?

        • Phaedruses says:

          It was illegal for Donald trump to show the document to Speaker McCarthy.

          Not because speaker McCarthy cannot see said document in the right circumstances, but because Donald Trump after he left office had no legal right to the document, no clearance to hold the document, nor any legal authority to show the document to anyone even if they held a legal right or clearance to see it.

        • vigetnovus says:

          Are we totally sure on that? I think that’s still an open question as to whether he can improperly possess classified material. Since he never had a formal “clearance” (Presidents don’t as the ultimate original classifying authority), the only way espionage act gets triggered is if the government asks for it back and he doesn’t comply (which is what happened with his response to the subpoena).

          This is why 18 USC 1924 (mishandling classified information) is not listed as a potential statute on the Mar-a-lago warrant. It doesn’t apply to Trump because as President, he was not an “officer of the United States” nor was he an employee. And Espionage act (793) doesn’t apply with McCarthy because he *is* entitled to receive classified information as a member of the Gang of 8.

        • Shadowalker says:

          The authority permanently rests in the office and not the individual. At 12:00PM on January 20, 2021, that authority and all that is derived from it were transferred to Biden as soon as he took the oath of office. At that point, Trump no longer had any legal claim to even view anything classified. There can only be one Commander-In-Chief at any one time per the Constitution.

          None of this has been litigated, but from the 11th Appellate opinion it’s likely to be the case.

        • vigetnovus says:

          That may very well be true, however to the best of my knowledge, this is unfortunately a loophole situation. Trump CANNOT be prosecuted with 1924 as a former president (he wasn’t an officer or employee of the United States). He was not “read out” of any programs. And he CANNOT be prosecuted under 793 if he didn’t share it with someone who wasn’t entitled to receive it. The reason he is being considered for 793 charges now is because the government asked for the classified info back and he refused to give it back.

          He could be prosecuted with 794 as Marcy said before, but you’d have to prove the person he shared it with was affiliated with a foreign government or was an agent of a foreign government.

        • Shadowalker says:

          I doubt they would consider charges on that (too messy and complicated), but it would negate it being used as a defense.

        • emptywheel says:

          That’s wrong. He can be prosecuted if he retained stuff after people asked him to give it back.

          The Jun 3-August 8 timeframe is squarely on the table.

        • Vigetnovus says:

          Marcy, that’s exactly my point. But he couldn’t be prosecuted for showing it to a gang of 8 member PRIOR to the US asking for it back, which the earlier known instance of which was Dec 2021 or thereabouts. Not July 2021.

        • Shadowalker says:

          Your loophole is incorrect. The President is not only an officer but also an employee while he remains in office. Same is true for federal judges and members of congress.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          It would probably be illegal for McCarthy not to report the fact that to his certain knowledge an unauthorized person possessed and was sharing classified documents. Though I have no idea whap specific statute would be involved and stand ready to be smacked down for than ignorance.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        McCarthy as House Minority Leader was part of the Gang of Eight in July 2021. Access to docs require satisfying clearance and the ‘need to know’ components which as it stands now would be covered if the discussion was about the Gulf.

    • vigetnovus says:

      To be clear here, what I’m suggesting is that Trump showing McCarthy the document is not a violation of the espionage act, even if Trump was “improperly” possessing the document at the time. Strange as it may seem, it is not a violation of the espionage act to share classified information with a person who is entitled to receive it even if *YOU* are not entitled to have the classified information.

      This likely happens every day, people may talk about classified stuff, not knowing it’s classified. They aren’t prosecuted for it.

      It is a crime, however, to share classified information if the person receiving the information (legally or not) has intent to share it with a foreign government to their advantage or to hurt the United States OR if they *knew* or had a reason to believe that the person sharing the information had intent to share it with a foreign gov’t or injure the United States. Interestingly enough, the charged party here is the _recipient_ not the person sharing the information (that’s 793(c)).

      So, McCarthy could be charged as a Gang of 8 member with 793(c) if he knew or had reason to believe that Trump was going to say share that information (the Iran plans) with the Saudis at the time Trump showed it to him. That’s hard to prove though… unless there is an electronic trail…. (hmmm)

    • harpie says:

      I’m on the edge of my seat wondering
      how this conversation will pan out!
      I wonder how long I’ll be here, lol.
      Thanks, everyone!

  8. KayCee_75 says:

    Long time follower here. Always try to follow the smart minds and how meticulously you break down the clues to this complicated jigsaw puzzle.

    I have a set of questions on this Middle East connection. How much proof is necessary for the investigation to look at potential deals of Trump’s near and dear ones? It is highly suspicious how Ivanka and Jared tore themselves off after Trump lost in 2020. What if daddy didn’t deal directly, but went via his favorite offspring’s channels? Can the investigation shed light in these dark recesses with the evidence they have now?

    • ira says:

      As you no doubt are aware, the Saudi public investment fund gave Kushner $2 billion for his newly created investment fund, Affinity Partners — despite Kushner having ZERO prior investment experience — over the objections of the fund’s financial advisors.

      NOBODY gives anybody $2 billion without a seriously good reason.

  9. SaltinWound says:

    At one point Hugo Lowell tweeted something about Trump’s lawyers saying the document had been returned to NARA and then Marcy corrected him I think but the exchange went over my head. Was he falling for misinformation from Trump’s lawyers?

  10. timbozone says:

    OT: Speaking of recordings… ;/ WP has this article up about the Georgia investigation. It’s not a great article, especially in that it fails to mention Trump’s extortion attempt of Raffensperger during the Jan 2 call, etc. It does describe at bit more of how Georgia’s RICO law theoretically works to us lay people, talks a bit more about who has and hasn’t yet gotten immunity from prosecution in Georgia for the fake electors plot there, etc. There’s little mention of the federal investigation…


  11. Rwood0808 says:

    I’m now even more amazed that Bedminster was NOT raided at the same time or soon after MAL. Every copy machine and printer on the property should have been grabbed long ago.

    • gertibird says:

      That’s what I have been thinking. There is video of Trump’s people loading boxes in his plane to Bedmister right before the warrant. And of course don’t forget the 12 guys who carried the casket of Ivana Trump for burial at Bedmister. 12 seems overkill. Even Ivana’s death, (falling down stairs) not too later after she said in an interview that she and Trump were still friends and he told her everything, makes one question.

      • Spank Flaps says:

        Why would he put government docs in a grave?
        – If it was to retrieve and sell them later, retrieval would be awkward, and being underground would damage the docs.
        Trump has loads of land and property, he would put them somewhere nobody knows about.
        – If it was to destroy them, try Occam’s razor, he would have just burnt them, and not had to involve undertakers in the crime.
        Also destroying the originals doesn’t destroy archive, digital copies, server backups etc. The government doesn’t use typewriters to produce its documents.

        The Ivana’s coffin theory is “true crime podcast” culture at its worst. Why not throw in Elvis, Bigfoot and JFK for good measure?

        • KayKinMD says:

          Creeping out from my lurking status to say “thank you!” The whole, documents buried with Ivana theory seems almost Q-level. There are all the flaws in logic you list.

          It was a slightly funny joke to start, but then people started to take it seriously…

        • Unabogie says:

          I completely agree that there’s no chance he buried documents in that grave. That said, there was nothing normal about him taking the body of his ex wife and putting it next to a random hole on his golf course. That’s just so skeevy and weird and gross and I cannot understand Ivanka being OK with it.

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      Probable cause is more than reasonable suspicion. And prosecutors usually need probable cause to get a warrant against something in a building.

    • Tech Support says:

      If I’m understanding the timing of events here, the FBI lacked reasonable suspicion that there would be documents at Bedminster event though they did have reasonable suspicion that there were documents at Mar-a-Lago.

      That’s the main driver for my speculation above. Here we have evidence that a classified document existed at Bedminster. DOJ asked for that document to be returned. They have been told “we can’t find it.” I’m no expert but on the surface it would appear as if the basis for searching Bedminster is now on the table where it wasn’t previously.

  12. troutwaxer says:

    There are no snitches. Trump crimes loudly and publicly, and the stupid shit he does is obvious.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Sorry for posting this twice. It was supposed to be a reply to someone else above.

  13. wasD4v1d says:

    I very much doubt there is such a document, at least there wasn’t in that room. That rustling paper he ‘couldn’t’ show them? When has that ever been an obstacle previously? He ‘couldn’t’ show them because it was the dinner menu. What he was doing was trashing Mark Milley, who publicly preempted a wag the dog attack on Iran based on a plan he drew up…. under Trump’s orders. A four page war plan? Probably all bullet points for the amusement of one man. (My 2c.)

    • josh says:

      I agree. Remember when the White House was describing his economic plan, I think it was, at a press briefing and they brandished a thick binder. Then a reporter went up and looked at the bider and all the pages were blank? I recall reading that T himself used the piece of paper gambit in other conversations to claim he had information. And even someone as thick as T if he wanted to pass a doc to the Saudis would make a copy and keep the original..

      • SteveinMA says:

        Quite reminiscent of Joe McCarthy waving the sheet “showing” a list of hundreds of Communists in the government. The shadow of Roy Cohn, who seems to have taught Trump much, looms over both McCarthy and Trump.

    • FL Resister says:

      If the former president had not already been caught hoarding and hiding hundreds of classified documents, then your suggestion might be more plausible.
      Just because Trump used piles of blank documents as a prop in his 2016 campaign or pretended to have drawn up an economic plan he didn’t have, doesn’t mean he wasn’t flashing around a top security document to the people in the room when he was attempting to smear General Milley. In fact, that is much more likely than not, given his history of claiming he can do anything he wants with presidential records and national security documents even after leaving office.
      Trump doesn’t have to be consistent in order for people to believe him. Fortunately, his activities are now under the strict scrutiny of professional and experienced teams of US prosecutors and agents and DT is still subject to US law.

  14. greenbird says:

    it makes me light-headed to think of all that we don’t know, and probably shouldn’t … but will, with any luck.

    • RitaRita says:

      I’m with you on this. What we know now, the DOJ probably knew several weeks ago. We are chasing the breadcrumbs left more than likely by witnesses, their attorneys, or perhaps Trump’s attorneys. I’d love to read a definitive history that talks about what the DOJ knew and when versus what the news media knew and when.

      Slightly off topic, but the DOJ announced the closing of the Pence investigation without charges. This breaks with the usual practice of making no such announcement. If DOJ decides not to bring charges against Trump, I hope it does the same, but with explanation.

  15. Bay State Librul says:

    You sure that the “Iran document”didn’t end up in Mark Meadows fireplace?😊

  16. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Does there come a point where wire taps or imbembed agents can placed inside his orbit ? If Doj knew Miley file was missing, would that not give enough evidence for survelince warrants ?

    Doesn’t Smitty have a Donnie Brasco unit he can insert ?

    At some point these materials had to be digitized, no ? If the Saudis got them , where and how ? At the LIV Tournament ?

    I mean if Doj knows attack plans are missing and Trump had them, doesn’t that give them probable cause to monitor his ass with all the force as they would with any other spy ?
    I may have some of this wrong, but knowing what they know they can’t do something proactive ?
    Bug his golf cart ?
    This working backwards stuff just ain’t no fun at all.

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    • quickbread says:

      What makes you think DOJ is only working backwards? Just because we’re not hearing about more covert investigative methods doesn’t mean they aren’t happening.

  17. klynn says:

    I just spent a few hours rereading news articles on the two surprises through the lens of this document being sold to/given to Saudis leadership. Absolutely brings clarity on the Iran-SA deal being brokered by China.

  18. Amicus12 says:

    I think it is quite likely, the KSA is buying time. If you look at the link I posted above, you will see that the Saudis are still trying to obtain access to US nuclear technology to build a reactor. Now, they may be interested in doing that, in part, to diversify their electric generation. It’s been a while since I looked, but even a few years back they were burning oil to generate electricity. There are many reasons for them to want to stop doing that.

    However, the big tell is that they appear to be insistent upon having within Kingdom uranium enrichment capability. There’s really one reason for that to be an essential element of the deal; you want the capability to build nuclear weapons.

    And if you want the capability to do so, it means that you don’t view life as a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Nor do you trust the Pakistanis will come to your rescue if things go wrong.

    So it’s a simple calculus. The Saudis want nukes. Trump was, and it is reasonable to assume still is, willing to give them nukes. So the Saudis will act to put Trump back in office. Anyone who thinks the Chinese are likely to give the Saudis enrichment capability and start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East between the Saudis and Iranians is dreaming. The Chinese need oil from the Gulf. The Iranians keep reminding the Chinese of that fact in not very subtle ways.

    • ira_12AUG2022_0955h says:

      The Saudis already have nukes: they’re just parked in Islamabad. Who do you think paid for the Pakistani nuclear program to begin with ? The Saudi military — except for the very top echelons — is chock-full of Pakistanis.

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  19. Bobster33 says:

    I was listening to a podcast about the Nixon years and how they compared to the Trump years. In the 1970’s you’d have to be born under a rock to not know what the Nixon Tapes meant. In the 2020’s, we have no idea what the expression Trump tapes means. Is it the Georgia call, Ukraine call, Golf course Iran secret documents, Apprentice Show extra footage, grab them by the pussy tape . . . .

    The point seems to be to overwhelm the public. At some point the public will tune out.

  20. Doctor My Eyes says:

    OT: This article is the first clear expression I have seen of the SCOTUS problem. Justices appointed by both parties are content to describe, in legal rulings, the other two branches of government as fundamentally flawed and untrustworthy while portraying the judicial branch as definitionally above the fray and the proper authority to resolve all conflicts among the branches of government. In other words, the judicial branch is the founders’ favorite and mostest special. I’m curious how the legal professionals here feel about this way of looking at things. (Sorry to link to a propaganda outlet, but whaddya gonna do?)

    Oh, and by the way, this attitude comes on the heels of years of conservative faux outrage over “activist judges” and “legislating from the bench.” Not that hypocrisy deployed as an instrument of undermining our system is anything new.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, I’ve seen it. It is just yet another compilation of the same stuff Ryan, Rich and the others at Just Security have been spouting for a long time now. “Prosecution Memos” like this are idiotic. Let’s see what the actual prosecutor, Smith, does.

        • bmaz says:

          It “seems” to be wrapping up. That could be sooner or later. But what results will be seriously fascinating.

  21. e.a. foster says:

    Can’t find the documents or is that just a ruse because there are no documents. This is really no way to run a government. Given the amount of money the U.S.A. has in its budget perhaps they could formulate a system where people had to sign to obtain documents and that registry be kept somewhere. Its an old style system but we mever did loose files. Of course this being the former president, who knows what the truith is and in the spirit of the moment bragging about “documents” he may actually have forgotten where they were put. Of course if they were sold, that would be another story.

    Loved the “what is an original document”. Being old, its the one the executive secretary types, the others are copies and were made using carbon paper. If a number of copies were required a gestener was used or later a copier. Once copiers were a bit better, early 80s it became very easy to take an original copy and alter it to have it say something else.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      There was a convincing diary on dkos analyzing the FBI photo of documents found at Mar-a-Lago. The gist of his conclusion is that for several of the TS documents in that photo, the red margin does not bleed all the way to the margin. The white border at the very edge of the paper is an artifact of printing; original classified documents will have the red margin extending all the way to the edge of the paper. This is believable because such a casual error would be typical of Trump-world incompetence. Merely copying the documents may in itself be a crime, but of course the big question is what happened to the originals?

  22. Glen Tomkins says:

    [FYI – At 794 words this comment exceeds recommended length by 2-4 times over and may be difficult if not irritating to community members reading on mobile devices. Please be more concise or your comments will not clear moderation. /~Rayne]

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

    Maybe the information might be quite valuable, but why would the document itself be worth anything? Make a photocopy and to sell to the Saudis, and return the original when the US govt demands that. Why even remove the original in the first place, rather than a copy of some sort?

    Let’s suppose he didn’t have time for a careful selection of classified documents before he had to leave the WH. The lame duck was pretty crowded for Trump, what with all the sedition and seditious conspiracy he was engaged in, so he had to put off sorting through them to see which ones to copy. The hurried expedient was to make off with a seemingly random assortment of so many classified documents that the presence of a few salable ones that might have been the real reason he purloined any of them would not have drawn notice among all the random ones. If anything, someone plotting to use some of them for profit and the rest for cover, would be sure to handle the profitable ones with special care to comply fully once return was demanded. A rational plotter might lose a few of the decoy documents just to create an appearance of overall disorganization and random purposelessness to the mishandling of classified documents, but would be sure to return all the profitable ones so as not to create a pattern of missing documents suggesting a motive.

    The reality here is that Trump suffers from dementia. We’ve known this since his interview with Lester Holt in which he blew his alibi over the Comey firing. He took with him when he left the WH the particular set of classified documents that he took because the assortment of maggot theories and obsessions that he has in the place where most people have Sense and Reason in charge, resulted in an assortment of equally disorganized classified documents. All sorts of non-demented people told him this was at least a bad idea, and even a criminal idea, but Trump, as always, knows the straight dope, how the world really works behind all the pretend pieties. It is quite likely that one of his selection criteria was indeed the maggot idea that information in some of the documents might help him make deals. Maybe he did sell the document in question to the Saudis, and actually volunteered the original rather than a photocopy or transcription, because he imagines himself to be some criminal mastermind who operates at such a high level in the art of the deal that such vulgar considerations as audit trails are beneath him.

    The point here is not that Trump could use his dementia as any sort of legal defense. He’s not nearly far gone enough to be unable to tell right from wrong. The problem is that prosecuting him based on the premises outlined here will involve portraying him as some criminal mastermind, but that idea is going to be refuted by many of the details of the case presented by both prosecution and defense. In particular there is this question of why a criminal mastermind would sell the Saudis the actual classified document rather than a photocopy. Why would anyone who was plotting to sell, or use for blackmail, or in any other way profit from the information in such documents, not just take away copies or transcripts that had the valuable information, rather than the classified documents themselves? A mere rational criminal would have planned in terms of minimizing evidence of his crime, so would not have stolen the information in a way that created the audit trail that taking, and then selling, the documents themselves unnecessarily involved.

    Sure, the prosecution could try and make its case that in Trump, we have an irrational criminal, a moderately demented person who did some crimes because he imagines himself to be a criminal mastermind, but his actual demented status is what explains the many aspects of his word and deed in how this crime happened that no competent criminal would have said or done. This would have the virtue of being true, and much closer to the whole truth of the Trump phenomenon than any other account that has gotten much public notice. Unfortunately, to make this case the prosecution would have to argue against the entire mass of public notice Trump has received since 2015, and not just against whatever the defense presents. The jury, be they D, R, or uncommitted, has been primed for 8 years to see in Trump a mastermind — criminal, hero, or both — and you have to give the public what they imagine they have seen with their own eyes.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump is not demented. He is cruel, vicious, and vindictive. He is obtuse about anything not named Donald Trump and grossly stupid about almost everything else, but he’s not demented by any standard in the law.

      You focus on copies, as if misusing copies was a nothingburger. He’s not allowed to have most of those, either. What matters more is whether he mishandled information in ways that endangered national security. The probability of that is high.

      • Glen Tomkins says:

        As I say above, he’s not nearly far enough along in his dementia to be considered legally incompetent for any purpose. He could divorce and remarry, he could change his will, he could be prosecuted for a crime, and in none of those circumstances would the law view him as incapable of being held responsible. But he is is plenty demented enough to have behaved in this case, as in many other episodes, in ways that frustrate attempts to shoehorn him into a criminal narrative.

        Sure, it was against the law for him to take copies or original classified documents when he left office, and maybe if that was all you went after him for, the effort could be carried to a successful conclusion. There probably wouldn’t be a criminal prosecution, just a demand to hand back the material, as this sort of mishandling of classified documents has been handled recently with other govt officials. That couldn’t happen with Trump. With non-demented public officials who recently took classified material with them the matter can be resolved simply, because they do not have maggot ideas where most of us have reasonable theories about how the world works. Trump took a slew of classified material pretty clearly on purpose, not as an oversight, but good luck presenting a jury a coherent narrative of why he took the stuff, what was his evil plan. He almost certainly had such plans, but since they bear no relation to reality, Trump’s actions to further his plans are not going to add up to a coherent plot. If all he had taken were copies, there would never have been an audit trail to let anyone know he had the stuff. Of course he’s on tape pitching grand schemes about turning some of this stuff to profit, but I would be shocked if it turns out that any serious criminals — to include malefactors of great wealth and power like the Saudis — would work with this obviously demented person.

  23. Indiana Joe says:

    I remember reading several posts here discussing the docs seized in the MAL raid as they were under review by the Special Master. There was one doc, or a “packet” of docs (maybe bound by a paper clip if I recall correctly?) that were found in a desk drawer that drew a lot of attention. I’m not sure if the timelines match up, but could this be the document in question here?

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    • bmaz says:

      Assuming the “document in question here” actually exists as such (better view seems that it probably does), it could have any number of possible provenances.

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