The Flavors of Trump’s Obstruction

As I noted here, Trump was charged with 31 counts of stealing highly classified documents. Each of those charges carries a 10 year max sentence, and because they are Top Secret and beyond, they will draw draconian sentences.

I’d like to talk about the seven kinds of obstruction with which Jack Smith has charged Trump and Walt Nauta.

Effectively, in addition to the stolen documents, DOJ charges Trump and Nauta jointly with six different crimes involved in withholding classified documents. The obstruction charges all carry a 20 year sentence. But if convicted, they would likely group as the same scheme.

The false statements charges carry a 5 year sentence. Because they’re less serious than the obstruction, the obstruction would set the sentence.

In most of these, Nauta is either charged as a co-conspirator or included in an abetting theory (all the 2s in the indictment). While the obstruction charges backstop the classified documents charges for Trump, much of this is directed at inducing Nauta to flip.

Honest, it could get worse for him!

Count 32: 18 USC 1512(k)

This charges Trump and Nauta with conspiring to evade the May 11 subpoena by moving the boxes and getting Evan Corcoran to claim he had done a diligent search.

20 year max.

Count 33: 18 USC 1512(b)(2)(a) and abetting

This charges Trump and Nauta with withholding documents from the subpoena.

20 year max.

Count 34: 18 USC 1512(c)(1) and abetting

This charges Trump and Nauta with withholding documents from Evan Corcoran so he would submit a false subpoena response.

20 year max.

Count 35: 18 USC 1519 and abetting

This charges Trump and Nauta with withholding the documents from the FBI investigation.

20 year max.

Count 36: 18 USC 1001(a)(1) and abetting

This charges Trump and Nauta with scheming to conceal things from a Federal investigation.

5 year max.

Count 37: 18 USC 1001(a)(2) and abetting

This charges Trump with causing Christina Bobb to make false statements to the FBI.

5 year max.

Count 38: 18 USC 1001(a)(2)

This charges Nauta, by himself, for making false claims in an interview to the FBI on May 26, 2022.

5 year max.

204 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Trump and his minions have been spinning this for months as a dispute over documents, but the indictment makes clear that this is — as I said on August 12! – a national security case with serious international implications. Nauta may not have realized that when he was toting boxes around, but when he found the box with the spilled documents, it should have been apparent to him at that point.

    Whether he realized how bad it might be or not back then, it’s going to land on him like a ton of bricks right now.

    • Leu2500 says:

      He saw that box that spilled.

      That included a document with a Secret (red) cover on it

      he’s ex-Navy & worked in the WH. He knew what that cover meant

      • Peterr says:

        Now, though, he’s learning exactly what that means FOR HIM, having ignored what he saw and went about doing what he was doing anyway.

      • Red_10JUN2023_1544h says:

        Not only that, but you can read how he sorted through and labelled all the tops, then it turned out, he was too detailed in describing contents on the lids, so had to get more box tops to obscure what he’d found — and written on the outside of the box about it. (p. 23 of indictment)

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        • Distrusty says:

          OK. Thanks. Hope that does it.

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

    • BobBobCon says:

      I can only guess how much of those national security implications are still being worked out by the feds.

      Not just where any missing documents may be, but who else may have read them, what kind of context did Trump tell about them, and what kind of recall does Trump have of their contents even if they were burned or shredded.

      I recognize Trump’s brain is glitchy, but foreign governments would do anything for the chance to sit with him for a week and plumb him for whatever details he can remember. Even 10% reliability would be extremely valuable.

      • Peterr says:

        Oh, there are a ton of investigations going on that will never see a courtroom. Working on a post about that, to show up some time over the weekend . . .

        • BobBobCon says:

          And there’s the whole question about what to do to contain Trump? He has to know things they don’t want released. How do they stop him from talking even if he’s behind bars?

          • FrankM78 says:

            I read that Robert Hanssen recently passed away in the Colorado “Supermax” prison. He sold classified documents to Russia for money. A possible location since there is a vacancy now.

            • bmaz says:

              No, Trump is never going to Florence SuperMax. For the love of gawd, please stop with that garbage.

              • BobBobCon says:

                You’re right he’s not going to Supermax. No way.

                But I have to wonder what they will do to contain him. Trump has been briefed on some of the most secret intel the US has. He probably rebuked efforts to cut a deal up until now. He is unstable and has a nonzero motivation to retaliate.

                What do they do in this situation?

                With a more stable person at a more compartmentalized level, the government can negotiate and contain with a high degree of confidence.

                What do they do if they are worried he may spill details about infiltration of Modi’s nuclear program, or reveal the name of an informant in Erdogan’s government, or a thousand other details he may have retained?

                Treating him like Jonathan Pollard isn’t an option. But I don’t know what other options they have either.

                • Peterr says:

                  Technically speaking, Donald Trump is an unreliable source. The more that the IC can cement that opinion of Trump — including by revealing some of the details in this indictment — the less credible he will be seen by anyone he would spill something to.

                  And the US government has got four years worth of anecdotes that can reinforce how unstable he is.

                  • BobBobCon says:

                    I see the point, except even then I think someone like Putin or Xi would be OK with a situation where 95%
                    of what Trump spills is a dry hole if 5% pays off.

                    They have the resources to chase a lot of snipes, and getting just one or two pieces of actionable intelligence on something like problems with F-35s or a gap in spy satellite coverage could still be worth it.

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                  • Patrick Carty says:

                    But the documents he stole are not unreliable, they are in fact the holy grail of intelligence. Foreign agents can easily manipulate Trump like the blob of putty that he is. And how many attractive Chinese women have visited MaL with cameras and thumb drives?

              • Karl M Bunday says:

                Genuinely curious (so curious I’m making my first comment on this site after years of reading all of the authors who post here), why are you so sure that Trump wouldn’t possibly go to the Florence supermax prison? (That raises the question, where else would he go if convicted?)

                • Marc in Denver says:

                  Half in jest: Maybe, instead of the Alcatraz of the Rockies, build the Spandau of the Appalachians?

                    • Karl M Bunday says:

                      On the condition that Trump is convicted of some federal felony, what would be the recommendation about where he would spend a sentence of confinement? (How much would what offense he was convicted of matter?) I’ve read whole books about several of the defendants who have been imprisoned at the Florence supermax prison over the years, and I’m wondering what facilities in the federal prison system would fit Trump better.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Danbury? Allenwood? There are many. I certainly would never put a former POTUS in a SuperMax.

              • DaBunny42 says:

                My understanding is that Hanssen was held in Supermax to monitor his communications for any secrets. Perhaps this is my anti-Trump bias speaking, but I don’t see him as clever enough to accomplish secret/encrypted communications? If so, that’d make keeping him in a lower-security facility more feasible.

    • CarlLewistoo says:

      Question: Could it be possible that the 2 provable incidents of sharing which happened in NJ are not included in this indictment just in case they ended up with a judge like Cannon? How likely would a DC and or NJ indictment be, assuming Cannon retains the case?

  2. Rwood0808 says:

    We should all pause for a moment and thank the man who made the removal of classified documents a felony…

    • Matt___B says:

      He was Paul Manafort’s lawyer. Lost the case, but Trump pardoned Manafort after not too much time in the pokey…

    • FL Resister says:

      According to an article on the subject of Trump’s new attorney today, Todd Blanche is also representing Boris Ephsteyn.

  3. Patrick Carty says:

    Corcoran really set the screws to Christina Bobb. Did she not sense a trap, or was it the consensus that a woman would more credible to the FBI agents picking up the Redweld folder?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump’s history suggests that he would think throwing a woman under the bus would be less of a big deal.

      • Operandi says:

        Corcoran didn’t know what he didn’t know. Nauta move most of the boxes to the office and then only let him search the storage room.

        But, from the May 23 meeting (p21 of indictment), he knew Trump was really keen on obstructing some justice, and he was in full cover-your-ass mode past that. That’s why he took copious notes and never put his signature on anything (instead roping in Bobb for that bit, who, like Corcoran, could smell there was bullshit afoot somewhere and demand caveats be added to the language)

  4. Ask_09JUN2023_1701h says:

    Are there unrecovered secret documents?
    Does any authority have a list?

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    • Tannenzaepfle says:

      Pretty much guaranteed, and releasing a list of what’s missing would probably in itself be a national security risk. Any investigators would want to keep that list very tightly under lock.

      • Peterr says:

        The Intelligence Community worked hand in glove with DOJ on the decisions about which documents to include in these charges. I am sure that there are docs that the IC immediately said “Hell NO!” about including.

  5. viget says:

    Marcy, you are so right here!

    Under USSG, since the obstruction involved the investigation of violating 793(e), the accessory after the fact guideline applies, which will put the base offense level at 29. It’s possible he will get a mitigating reduction in level by being a “minor” participant, i.e. if he truly didn’t know there were classified docs there, which I doubt.

    Level 29 corresponds to 87-108 months, so he’s looking at a minimum of 7 years if convicted of any one of the obstruction charges. If he accepts responsibility and cooperates it will likely be substantially less.

    And it could get a lot worse for him if he then obstructed the investigation further once he knew there was an ongoing obstruction investigation (like say he told the IT guy to delete some of the video footage) or if he told the various people he texted to lie or delete their texts. Then you’re probably looking at close to the max sentence.

    I’m guessing he might’ve done that and that’s gonna be the stick Jack Smith uses to get him to cooperate.

  6. freebird says:

    Trump is psychotic. These pictures in the bathrooms reminds me of hoaders on reality television.

  7. StillHopeful says:

    I’ve always thought that these should have been the first charges against TFG.

    But, I am flabbergasted by the immense quantity and classification levels that are involved.

    Did this person have no Common Sense?

    When I was in the Navy Submarine Force I fully understood the ramifications of losing one highly classified document, let alone keeping one (which was impossible since we signed for every document we had taken into our possession).

    TFG has demonstrated to the world that his thinking process is deeply flawed.

    Maybe he can plead innocent by reason of insanity.

      • Shadowalker says:

        Because he’s a former President. They also didn’t know he was retaining classified material till they found them amongst other Presidential Records Act material that was never classified in Jan/Feb 2022. That was when NARA contacted the FBI, who then opened an investigation. If he hadn’t have given them those docs, they really had no clue.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, what about it? The prosecution, i.e. Smith, chose this when he did not have to. Live with it.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, Smith has been addressed ad nauseam already. It is not a factor if anybody listened to the argument on it.

          • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

            bmaz is not referring to Jack Smith. He is referring to a case called “US v. Smith”.

          • David F. Snyder says:

            I’d guess that SC Smith has a plan, he seems pretty meticulous so I don’t see him risking without an additional plan in mind. Cannon better watch her (over)step.

            • BSChief1 says:

              Hope you are right. I wonder if SC Smith gave enough weight to the possibility of losing the Aileen Cannon lottery in making the venue decision (assuming Garland was hands-off in that decision). I fear that, if Cannon is allowed to preside over the trial, she will allow Trump to delay things until the 2024 election timetable becomes problematic. I also assume that Trump will ask to waive a jury trial, as no Florida jury could be more sympathetic to him than Judge Cannon will be. Hope I’m wrong.

    • wasD4v1d says:

      The Trump legal doctrine has been to use legal hijinks to get their accusers to capitulate from frustration, exhaustion, or both. It is apparent to all – to Judge Cannon perhaps most acutely – that Jack Smith et al have no plans to capitulate.

    • hollywood says:

      Chris_09JUN2023_1230h, if you are talking about a possible motion to recuse Cannon, I believe she would be the jurist to rule on it.

  8. Badger Robert says:

    Two defendants. Serious espionage charges. What does it mean as far as having to post a bond, surrender a passport, or stay in Florida? Some of the participants may know.

    • bidrec-gap says:

      In the HealthSouth scandal authorities wanted to seize passports but couldn’t because none of alleged perps had passports. This suggested they had never traveled to a foreign country.

      I told this to a doctor flying to Birmingham, Alabama and she sniffed that it was probably because they flew internationally on private jets. Trump has a jet.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          I worked in Trump’s neighborhood for many years—the south east corner of Central Park. Many of his neighbors skipped the country rather than face justice. Asil Nadir of PollyPeck with an office at 9 West 57th went to North Cyprus; Marc Rich with an office at 650 5th went to Zug Switzerland; Stanley Tollman, a hotelier went to England. Robert Maxwell who had an office on 3rd Avenue drowned.

          Controversy is Trump’s oxygen but he is in more serious trouble than he has been in before so he might try something more drastic like leaving the country and he has the wherewithal.

          • Shadowalker says:

            So? That is irrelevant to the issues at hand. Trump won’t leave the country, not his style. He’ll fight it out in court, and if he is found guilty, will appeal as is his Constitutional right.

      • CJCJCJCJ says:

        Flying private doesn’t get you out of needing a passport, at least for re-entering the US.

        • LizzyMom says:

          Also doesn’t get you out of presenting a passport in the country you are landing in. You just don’t have to stand in line with the hoipolloi in order to go through passport control or customs.

  9. Badger Robert says:

    There’s plenty of speculation that Trump can attempt to get a hung jury based on jury nullification.
    Mr. Nauta does not appear to have a good chance of obtaining that result. As Ms. Wheeler rhetorically asks, what was he thinking?

  10. Badger Robert says:

    The current situation contrasts with the aftermath of US Civil War and Nixon’s fiasco due to the Watergate burglary. For better or worse, the allegations against Trump are likely to be the subject of a trial.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The jury need never get as far as jury nullification, a response for which, by definition, there is no legal justification. All it needs is a single no vote to convict, which results in a hung jury. But repeating the trial wouldn’t be good for Trump either.

    • smf88011 says:

      I would have the prosecution on speed dial and trying to work out a deal right now. He knows what happened, knew the proper procedures from his time in the military and White House, and he will be going away for a long time unless he gets some type of deal in exchange for his testimony against Trump.

      • bidrec-gap says:

        It is not clear to me that a valet in the White House would have received training in the handling of classified documents.

        • P J Evans says:

          He was actually a cook by training, but who knows what was covered in basic plus additional training. (I’d have though that the basics of classification would have been in there.)

          • bidrec-gap says:

            From the ‘net:
            Stewards are assigned to duty on all types of ships, advanced bases, and shore installations having quarters for officers
            Training provided:
            The Steward’s school provides training in the following areas
            1 Preparing and serving meals, salads, sandwiches, and beverages
            2 Steward training
            3 English, spelling, and mathematics. Related civilian jobs Cook Caterer Maitre d’hotel Restaurant operator

            No training on handling of classified materials.

            • smf88011 says:

              It is obvious you haven’t been in the military nor worked in government service. Each year ALL members of the military and government service are required to complete annual security training. In this training you are taught the proper things to do in regards to security including what you are supposed to do if you come across something that shouldn’t be where it is. I gave more detail in a different reply to bidrec-gap’s post but you can find it just down from this reply.

        • Peterr says:

          “Valet” is a misnomer. He wasn’t parking cars. He headed up the logistics of the WH kitchen (run by the Navy) and retired from the Navy as a Senior Chief. He was trained in the handling of classified information.

          • bidrec-gap says:

            I would like to see his DD-214. A valet (which has another meaning besides parker of cars) would have stood out. He would have been the only cook in his class.

            • LizzyMom says:

              The original meaning of valet was a vassal, which evolved into a “gentleman’s gentleman” (think Jeeves) until the “snobby cachet” of the title began to be used as a parking service in the US…. Suspect Nauta’s duties were closer to Jeeves in being a glorified go-fer (albeit minus Jeeves brainpower).

            • smf88011 says:

              EVERY member of the military undergoes an annual security refresher training course. It has a quiz at the end that you must pass before you return to your regular duties. One area of that security refresher covers this very area that you have doubts on.

        • smf88011 says:

          Virtually every member of the armed forces are taught about classified materials and the proper handling. It happens during the cyber security training that they receive. Further, there are many different times while in the service you will receive briefings on what to do if you come across something that doesn’t belong there. I remember being asked what I was supposed to do if I came across a computer that had a folder labeled “war plans” and “nuclear weapon storage”. The “correct” answer was to not open these folders and immediately notify the military police. We were also told that if we were outside a base and this came about, we were to notify the FBI IMMEDIATELY.

          Just because the guy was a cook doesn’t mean he didn’t receive the training on the proper things to do if something like this happened. We also got it as part of our annual security refresher training. That training had a quiz at the end that we were required to pass before we could proceed with our duties.

          • bidrec-gap says:

            Must be new. When I was in all of our computers were made by Bunker-Ramo. They did not use a file and folder structure.

    • bidrec-gap says:

      In an analogous case (analogous in my mind at least), the Moorer-Radford Affair Yeoman Radford received a transfer to a remote duty station. He was active duty, however.

      “…Nixon decided to cover up the affair on the advice of Attorney General John N. Mitchell, believing its revelation would hurt military morale …”

      Yeoman Radford was accused of moving classified documents because he was “over zealous.”

    • timbozone says:

      IANAL but…

      If it’s successfully negotiated at all, a Nauta plea deal likely leaves possible prison time up to the a federal judge… unless the prosecutors drop their charges before there’s a federal trial of Nauta begun. Its doubtful that DOJ will drop all charges that they consider to be serious, although consolidation of charges and dropping of some charges might be part of a negotiated plea deal. IMO it boils down to how intelligent Nauta is perceived to be and how much training and experience Nauta had with the handling of national secrets during his White House and military service. I suspect that if there’s evidence that he was well aware of the seriousness of some of the national defense information he saw at Mar-a-Lago from the beginning of 2021 on he may be in for some prison time, even if he does manage to negotiate a plea. Basically, it looks like we’re going to find out how serious this is for Nauta over the next few months/year or two.

      • Rayne says:

        Keep in mind we don’t know what might make Nauta remain closed mouthed and continue to support Trump. We don’t know if he’s a hardcore MAGA believer or if he is somehow compromised in such a way that flipping is not an option.

        Just look at his job: what kind of person would work as a valet for Trump?

        • bidrec-gap says:

          This is actually a very good position for someone with his skillset. The White House duty would have been his “twilight tour” and you can’t live comfortably on a military pension. He did well for himself. Many retirees end up with civilian jobs around military bases. This is better.

          • ExRacerX says:

            I suppose “better” is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, he got a few years out of the gig, but at present, slumming it on his pension might look pretty sweet to Nauta in comparison to what’s looming in his future.

        • timbozone says:

          I just hope, for all concerned, this isn’t Leandro Aragoncillo redux. I’m sure that a fear of that within the counter-intelligence investigators will no doubt have put this part of the documents investigation on steroids once Nauta’s statements began to appear to be patently misleading or false.

          As you say, we in the general public do not yet know what Nauta’s motiviation(s) might be here in providing false statements to government investigators. I imagine if there are worse things that can be charged here, further indictments will come down soon enough. And that goes for any other folks that today’s indictments were designed to send a message to. Non-truthful “cooperation” in this and related matters is now publicly, personally much more expensive as of today.

          • bidrec-gap says:

            Motivations? He is a steward, a servant, a porter. Valets shine shoes, press uniforms. A steward on a ship would be at the bottom of a very short chain of command, the officer he serves and him.

            Nauta is doing exactly what he was trained to do. Anything else is projection.

            • timbozone says:

              Wow. You seem to have managed to project your need for subservience and obedience well beyond the pale. Nauta is not some sort of automaton that you control. He is a human being and now a defendant in a very serious national security case. If his Trump supplied lawyer has an attitude towards Nauta similar to yours, heaven help Nauta.

            • gknight1 says:

              The U. S. Navy does not give away Senior Chief Petty Officer designations. It is most definitely a leadership position. Nauta is likely not shining Trump’s shoes. He would be politically and socially astute…I speculate. The Senior Chiefs just flat get things done. I was an E5 Leading Yeoman on a nuclear submarine. There were no Senior Chiefs assigned to our boat. They would be assigned to high-level administrative duties or assistants to high-ranking officers. Do not underestimate Nauta.

              • bidrec-gap says:

                I worked with many E-8’s. I was stateside in a station that served for many retiring enlisted as their “twilight tour”. When faced with retirement they started to look at life after retirement and possibly line up post Navy employment. Which is exactly what Nauta did, quite successfully until this juncture.

                Senior enlisted tend to be politically astute to a point. But some of this astuteness does not serve them well when their environment changes. It won’t help him in court.

  12. paulka123 says:

    Looking for a clarification. The charges for the document retention are for documents that the DoJ (and various agencies) are willing to be released to the jury during the trial? Given the seriousness of the documents he is charged with (including nuclear documents), wouldn’t that imply that Trump had even more significant and potentially damaging to national security documents?

      • smf88011 says:

        I am aware of many instances where the method of intelligence gathering was deemed more important that the data that was compromised. While what you say is true about sensitive documents in court, a lot of potential prosecutions don’t even get to the indictment stages. This is from my personal experience working with the Security Divisions at various US Government Department of Energy Laboratories.

        • timbozone says:

          These indictments have not occurred on a lark and are very, very serious. Seems like DOJ is ready to disclose enough information to sustain at least some of these charges.

          It’s safe to say that DOJ and the intelligence agencies within the US government are now well along on working out what information can be disclosed to a sufficient level to charge a former US President with obstruction and retention of such documents. Since this is a loose cannon type of defendant, almost certainly the US is also prepared/preparing for further secrets to be compromised/disclosed if this case moves forward. This points to the grave seriousness of his violations of various federal laws, national intelligence handling standards, and ongoing risks to the nations defense by the defendants alleged criminal acts.

    • smf88011 says:

      There is going to be documents that will probably never be shown to the jury. The documents that the jury will be shown shall be declassified. There are lots of cases of instances where things were not charged because the security classification of the data; it would compromise things that the government didn’t want to take a chance on. I am speaking from specific instances that I am not allowed to talk about. It was decided that the method of intelligence gathering was more important than the data that was stolen.

      • bmaz says:

        There is a long known and tested process for that in criminal trials. Not really a problem.

      • Peterr says:

        No. The documents in the indictment will never be shown to the jury. Under CIPA, there will be a stipulation negotiated by the prosecution, defense, and judge to describe to the jury what the documents contain.

        Some of these docs had the security classification codes redacted. That’s an indication of just how sensitive some of this stuff is.

        That said, yes, there are plenty of other docs that were not included in the indictment, and will not be charged because of their sensitivity. This was a two-part investigation: criminal and intelligence. When the special counsel had to balance these two, I am confident that he always came down on the side of the IC.

        • smf88011 says:

          I am well aware of how these things are done. SOME documents will be shown to the jury that are redacted to such an extent that there really isn’t anything that can be seen other than a thin red line through the security classification markings. I remember having to do something like this with the Jessica Quintana case where a 15 page document was completely redacted except for a 3 sentence paragraph with a (u) in front of it. I suspect this is the type of thing the jury will be shown:


          • Rayne says:

            You have left a version of this comment 3 times in this thread. I’ve deleted one because it was so far down in replies AND appeared immediately below a previous version.

            You can stop now, we get it, you know how this may be handled.

  13. Spank Flaps says:

    It was cool to finally hear Jack Smith’s voice. I was expecting him to talk like Kermit, Yoda, or Agent Smith from the Matrix.

  14. ira_12AUG2022_0955h says:

    > or Agent Smith

    Did I see what you did there ?

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  15. Savage Librarian says:

    Donald’s birthday is coming up soon, on Flag Day. Maybe if we all concentrate hard enough, we can automagically get Walt Nauta to wave a white flag on 6/14/23./s

  16. pdaly says:

    The color photos showing boxes and boxes of records in non-secure places are shocking.
    I haven’t had time to read the entire indictment. Does the DOJ put a date on the photo of boxes in the bathroom and on the ballroom stage? Is it from BEFORE the Aug 2022 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago? I don’t recall a bathroom or ballroom being on the search warrant.

    I like the idea of the cable show Hoarders doing a special on this irresponsible handling and hoarding of national intelligence information. It would be a way to get the word out to those in the general population who might not pay attention to news shows but would watch Hoarders–as long such a show wouldn’t totally taint a potential jury pool.

    • Konny_2022 says:

      You may find the 2021 “itinerary” of the boxes on pp. 10-14 of the indictment.

      • pdaly says:

        Thanks. I have looked more closely now at the timeline of the boxes.

        The indictment does not have to tell us everything the DOJ may know, but I noticed the repeated use of “some boxes were then moved” to the next location, suggesting “some” boxes remained behind or are unaccounted for?

        Using just the details as recorded in the indictment this could be the case for the White & Gold Ballroom and the MAL business center.

        “Some boxes” were also taken to Bedminster, but the indictment is mum about what happened to those boxes.

        This timeline made me wonder whether boxes removed from the MAL Storage Room were the same boxes returned, rather than new boxes:

        Between May 23, 2022 and June 2, 2022, before Trump Attorney 1 could review the boxes in the MAL Storage Room, NAUTA removed —at TRUMP’s direction— a total of approximately 64 boxes from the Storage Room and brought them to TRUMP’s residence.

        June 2, 2022 between 12:33 p.m. and 12:52 p.m. before Trump Atthorney 1 inspected the Storage Room, NAUTA and a MAL employee moved approximately 30 boxes from TRUMP’s residence to the Storage Room.

        At least 34 boxes taken from the Storage room remained with Trump in his residence? Maybe more, if the 30 boxes from TRUMP’s residence deposited that day in the MAL Storage Room were not the same 30 boxes taken from it over the previous hours?


On August 8, 2022, the FBI executed a court-authorized search warrant at MAL to search for and seize, among other things, all documents with classification markings. 
The FBI seized 102 documents with classification markings in TRUMP’s office and the Storage Room.

        There is no mention of searching the White & Gold Ballroom or the MAL business center where “some” boxes unaccounted for in the earlier box moving timeline could still be. Or not.

  17. Robot17 says:

    Whoa be it for me to disagree with Marcy but I think the Fed sentencing guideline for a level one convicted of 18 793(e) (Top Secret – Position of Trust) is 262 (low) to 327 (high) months or 21 to 27 years. At least the way I read the Sentencing Commision Guidelines. That’s before any potential point add-ons from GA or NY if he’s convicted and sentenced there first.

    Maybe I’m missing something (question for the more knowledgeable…) but that’s basically a life sentence for a 78-year-old. Could Smith have thrown him a bone knowing if he’s convicted Cannon could veer outside the guidelines and thus make it more palatable to the masses?

    • matt fischer says:

      From the PENALTY SHEET on page 46 of the indictment:

      Counts #: 1-31
      Willful Retention of National Defense Information, 18 U.S.C. § 793(e)
      Max. Term of Imprisonment: 10 years

      Only the maximum sentences for some other counts are listed as high as 20 years.

  18. The Old Redneck says:

    That bathroom photo is too damn funny. Who says Jack Smith doesn’t have a sense of humor?

    • Patrick Carty says:

      Yeah the GOP can stop crying about Hillary having an email server in her basement. I didn’t know Mar-a-Lago was French for shit hole.

    • emptywheel says:

      That’s a very good question.

      The unsealing memo suggested they may not be the same time.

      • Konny_2022 says:

        I was actually wondering why the indictment was unsealed so many days prior to Tuesday. However, then I read in the sealing order (available at

        “IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Indictment, judicial summonses, related paperwork, and this Order shall be filed under seal until the initial appearance of the first defendant or until further order of this Court …”

        May it be that Nauta has already be arraigned?

        • ExRacerX says:

          Hm, interesting. Could be, but there’s also “…or until further order of this court.”

          Maybe once the Trump camp had leaked the story, Smith requested that court order? Just a guess, but there are other scenarios that would fulfill “…or until further order of this court,” as well.

          • Operandi says:

            The docket shows Smith moved to unseal on the 9th. Presumably in response to Trump’s blabbing on the 8th. The sealing is for Trump’s 5th Am benefit after all, and, well, he chose not to avail himself of said benefit.

            > The conditions supporting the Court’s sealing order
            no longer prevail and unsealing the Indictment is in the public interest.

            • bmaz says:

              You make a LOT of claims not necessarily rooted in fact or law.

              Readers here should take anything “Operandi” says with a large grain of salt.

        • harpie says:

          Marcy’s new post seems to be largely about NAUTA’s predicament:


          […] My comment about the difficulty of taking this to trial is not, however, true for Nauta. Because he wasn’t (yet) charged with conspiring to steal these secrets, you could make it all the way to sentencing without having to expose the secrets Trump destroyed.

          So let’s talk about Nauta. […]

  19. joel fisher says:

    Jack “The Moron” Smith now has to decide whether to try to remove Judge Cannon.
    Do it: 6 months of BS and you never know what’s going to happen.
    Don’t do it: The judge in charge of the case is part of the defense team.
    This couldn’t possibly have been avoided by bringing the case in the some other district where the defendant has committed a crime. Oh no; where else has tfg committed a crime? Those places are so hard to find. Special Counsel Smith is smarter than me–as are most people–and he saw these issues; WTF is he doing?

    • David F. Snyder says:

      I suspect that somehow this ends poorly for Cannon, whether by incompetence or corruption. Smith knows the system better than her, I wager.

        • Peterr says:

          She also got slapped down pretty hard in the civil case by the 11th Circuit — hardly a bunch of liberals. The last thing she wants is to have that happen again, in a case that will be entering the history books.

          • David F. Snyder says:

            True, but then we can’t know anything she really wants, much less the last thing that she wants. Given the christian nationalists I’ve known over the years, I don’t put anything as being beyond them, including great self-sacrifice. I don’t buy that true-believer MAGAs won’t self-impale to further the cause, no matter their position. These are folks that think they have a role to play in Jesus’ second coming; rationality and self-interest don’t come into play in those scenarios.

        • David F. Snyder says:

          To be clear, I respect her many accomplishments and I respect the position she occupies. But “very” far may be overstating it, given, for one thing, that a substantial majority of her ABA rating committee found her qualified, not well-qualified (I’m thinking of the Peter Principle here). One would think that 7 years as an AUSA would provide sufficient breadth of professional experience to avoid the mistakes of judgement she made in Trump’s civil suit. But, then, once bitten, twice shy, so perhaps she’s learned a lesson and the trial proceeds speedily. Or perhaps she’ll throw herself on the sword, again.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        We discussed this several times during Trump’s civil trial in SDFL. She was a top graduate from Duke and earned high honors from the University of Michigan’s law school. She clerked for a federal circuit judge, and worked at a white shoe law firm and as an AUSA in SDFL, responsible for criminal appeals. She knows exactly what she’s doing.

        • bmaz says:

          Both what you and Peter are saying. But now what? Remember how there was fear of motions in DC? Is there any such fear now? There ought be.

          • joel fisher says:

            She could, for example, hear all the motions at once, or, more likely, one at a time over an extended period, thus, with an appeal for each adverse ruling gumming up the works for a long time. Smith knows what’s going to happen; why would he do this?

    • Scott Free says:

      My question is whether the DOJ can legally indict Trump on separate charges in another jurisdiction in addition to Florida? Perhaps in Washington D.C. (where documents were stolen) and/or in Bedminster New Jersey (Where Iran military plans were allegedly located and where Top Secret Show and Tell was performed)? Wouldn’t this provide the DOJ with conviction “insurance” in case the whole Judge Cannon “situation” crashes and burns (or merely grinds to a halt)? If this is legal, then the DOJ better get on it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        For completely separate crimes, sure, but there might be a motion to consolidate, which would surely follow if Trump thought he had a more amendable judge in Florida. But just having the same defendant regarding unrelated crimes would not ordinarily be enough.

      • notjonathon says:

        My personal hope is that there is enough evidence for him to be indicted in DC on entirely different charges for his part in inciting the January 6 riot/insurrection.
        It’s pretty clear that he was coordinating with Roger Stone, who was in constant touch with leaders of that riot. All those meetings in the White House right up to Jan. 5. . .
        Seditious conspiracy sounds nice.

  20. MattyGMattyG says:

    I wonder when/if indictments will move to the “peddler” stage. Calling out DTs Top Secret three-card-monte scheme is essential but surely he wasn’t just sitting on all this stuff. From the moment the MAL NDI docs scandal dropped “peddling” was the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

  21. Purple Martin says:

    Count 32 (page 34, paragraph 79) states

    …the defendants, did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and with others known and unknown to the grand jury, to engage in misleading conduct toward another person and corruptly persuade another person to…

    Is the “and with others known and unknown” language just standard boilerplate, or is it a placeholder and signal that other defendants could be added (some already “known”), perhaps in a superseding indictment? Any ideas on who some of those “others known” might be?

    It isn’t in any of the other counts, just Count 32.

    • emptywheel says:

      It is boilerplate in conspiracy language but yes, the other known co-conspirators should be worried.

  22. timbozone says:

    Just finished reading the indictment filing. Yeah, looks like Nauta is in a heap of doodoo. Several witnesses, extemporaneous texts, phone calls, pictures, recordings, etc that highlight various obstructing and illegal acts.

    As for Trump, well, I imagine he’s still thinking there’ll be some hail-mary way out of this one…

  23. oldtulsadude says:

    I apologize that my needle is stuck, but I am concerned about Judge Cannon. I keep seeing the “these sentences are suspended “ scene from Mississippi Burning.
    I hope I am wrong. But the feeling I have is similar to what I felt in 2016 when it became apparent Trump would win Florida

    • PJB2point0 says:

      Worrying about sentencing seems a bit attenuated, especially given he’ll be 78 years old and probably will have to worry about various other prosecutions, including outside the federal system. A speedy trial without undue delay caused by, among other things, a venue fight, would seem to be DOJ’s priority. I would think a trial and conviction before Election Day is what’s important.

      • Fly by Night says:

        I’ve been wondering who decides how all these cases play out. His NY trial is already on the books for March. Now there’s this one. Georgia could drop in the next couple of months, as well as a possible DC indictment down the road.

        Is it first-come, first- served? Does federal overrule state? Is it a matter of horse trading among the different AGs, and don’t the various judges get to weigh in? I’m hoping the legal experts here can provide some clarity because I can see these cases extending years into the future.

  24. Vinnie Gambone says:

    As relates to interviews with 20 of Trump’s secret service detail, might / could the SC grille them about Trump’s actions Jan 6 ? Question the agents on what they recall the missing texts said ? Get all the tooth paste out of the tube while they’ve got them on the hot seat ?

    Wow, wonder what that experience is like for a SS agent ? Is there a prologue about duty , etc , before question ing starts ?

    Rumor has it , some SS admired him, and felt honored getting his detail .
    So glad they are not shielded from being questioned.
    On Jan 6 trial, should one happen, could any SS actually be made to testify ?
    A first ? thanks.

  25. Marinela says:

    Trying to understand why the special counsel filed in Florida, instead of DC.
    Aside from the speedy trial reasoning, maybe the concern was that Trump would shop to get Aileen C. to change venue or somehow dismiss the case because of “improper” venue.
    But did they hope that filling in Miami court they were not going to get Aileen C? This is puzzling to me.
    She is not going to be fair to the process, so are they going to get her changed? The discussing in the media mention that she was initially assigned. What does it mean ‘initially’?

    • timbozone says:

      I’m beginning to think that Smith (and Garland?) wanted to draw Cannon for this case. Or at least appear not to care who on the Federal bench got this case.

      The case against Nauta seems pretty tight, leaving the reader to wonder “Why?”. This engages the reader into being on the side of the investigator. Pretty psychologically powerful stuff.

      Cannon likely would argue that Trump deserves loyalty because, well, Trump is a Trump. But Trump being Trump isn’t a good explanation for why Nauta has provided false statements to investigators. From there one begins to wonder what other folks may have provided false statements and what those other folks possible motivations might be. In a vacuum, one can always just assume that it’s all about loyalty to Trump, right? But, when it involves the possibility of the leaking, trading, and/or sale of incredibly sensitive national defense secrets, the issue is not about loyalty to Trump at all but rather one’s loyalty to the US national purpose as a whole. So, did Nauta sell or contemplate selling national secrets to foreign agents? Did someone else provide top secret US information to hostile foreign governments? Thus one comes back around to noticing that none of these questions would have arisen in the manner that that they have had Trump simply followed the law in the first place, had Trump not attempted to place himself above the law.

      Now some people will say that the law is wrong, that there shouldn’t have been an investigation in the first place. But that number of people is shrinking in the US as of today. And maybe tomorrow is the day where someone like Cannon will not tolerate someone like Nauta trying to hide their own failings behind a veneer of loyalty, false or otherwise. Either the US espionage laws are Constitutional and there for a good reason…or they are not. Cannon wanted to protect Trump in 2022. But will she now protect Nauta in 2023? And who will she be interested in protecting come 2024? US citizens should hope that one thing Cannon is interested in protecting is our national defense secrets, interest in protecting them and us from folks who might wish to do grievous harm to the US, irrespective of Trump’s incidental involvement. A universal free pass for anyone simply proclaiming “I did it to protect Trump!” would not be it.

      • emptywheel says:

        An astute comment. I think DOJ may still ask her to recuse, or even that she might do so herself. But I do think that DOJ is not as worried about Cannon as people think they should be.

        • Georgia Girl says:

          IANAL, but I surmise that the SC’s team aren’t worried about Judge Cannon because they aren’t done charging Trump. There will be a separate indictment in DC, too, for the first part of the crime, removing national security information from the White House. bmaz and other legal experts, please let me know why I’m full of shit on this point. Thanks.

          • harpie says:

            That’s an interesting point about charging separately in DC for the first part of the crime, and I’m hoping for an answer, too.

            • bmaz says:

              I’m hoping the answer is absolutely not. It is a waste of time and money to bring the same allegations in multiple venues. That goes for both DC and NJ. Smith chose where he wanted to bring the docs charges, live with it. At this point, DC is appropriate for any J6 charges. The docs are in SDFL, and leave it that way. Related conduct is always available as to any convictions in SDFL.

              • Georgia Girl says:

                Thank you, bmaz. I surmise hat Smith knew he would get Cannon when he chose where to bring the indictment. Cannon’s previous behavior occurred largely before Jack Smith was appointed Special Counsel and in the context of the results of the search warrant.
                The 11th Circuit duly ruled against her.

                Now the context has changed. The indictment is finely detailed, and short of actual judicial misconduct, I don’t see how Cannon can assist Trump, especially with the 11th Circuit in oversight. She could try to put up road blocks again, but given the legal stakes, I could see the 11th Circuit moving with the same swiftness on appeals as it did before.

                • bmaz says:

                  No, Smith would not have known that he would draw Cannon, but he absolutely had to be aware of the possibility. He chose this venue/jurisdiction. So be it.

          • Shadowalker says:

            That’s a nonstarter since he was still in office when the material was moved and thus had Constitutional based authority.

            • Georgia Girl says:

              I disagree, the Presidential Records Act and the Executive Order 13526 applied in advance of any removal of documents from Trump’s White House. That’s why I surmise that there could be charges also coming from DC. The boxes were packed in the full knowledge that when they arrived at Mar-a-Lago, Trump would no longer be President.

              • Shadowalker says:

                The President has rights while in office as to how such records are handled while it is within his term. The President is also not bound by any Executive Order either his own or predecessor while in office.

                (f) During a President’s term of office, the Archivist may maintain and preserve Presidential records on behalf of the President, including records in digital or electronic form. The President shall remain exclusively responsible for custody, control, and access to such Presidential records.

                • bmaz says:

                  Trucks were still being loaded and rolling off as Biden was sworn in, so yes crimes were committed in DC. It was the start of the crime spree.

                  • Shadowalker says:

                    They would need proof that contraband was in those boxes. The PRA does define what are presidential and personal records. Personal records as well “extra copies of documents produced only for convenience of reference, when such copies are clearly so identified” do not go to the archives

                    All they have at this point are boxes. Unless they can develop intelligence, and even that might be a stretch. They had a better shot when or after the crime occurred.

                    • Georgia Girl says:

                      Were the boxes loaded on trucks provided by the General Services Administration? Even if the move was handled by a private firm, Special Counsel could subpoena bills of lading, and any other records associated with the move. At any rate, we don’t know who exactly has testified to the grand jury, so Special Counsel could know all that, too. And as bmaz has said, the decision as to venue has been made.

                    • Shadowalker says:

                      Bill of lading would not have the details. A manifest might or best, a detailed content list of each of the boxes. Remember, they found clothing, news articles, books, various personal items intermixed with documents, some of which had classified markings, in the search. Though that’s no guarantee the contents didn’t change later. The problem is, we have never had to deal with such a corruptly unfit individual to hold that office before. Trump makes Nixon look like a boy scout.

                • Marinela says:

                  Well, cannot locate where it says that the President can spill the documents all over the bathroom floor where by definition there are no cameras for privacy.

        • Purple Martin says:

          I believe the point is that the specific counts of the indictment are for actions performed nearly exclusively in Florida (retention and obstruction related to retention). As you’ve said many times, the a prosecutor needs not just to *know* something, but must *prove* it beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. It seems far easier to prove 31 specific documents were unlawfully retained in Florida, than that each individual document left Washington DC before, or after Noon, January 20th, 2021.

          You are far more knowledgeable than I on the nuances of venue selection (not a high bar) but the consensus of the informed speculation I’ve followed (including yours) seems to be that bringing the case in SDFL greatly reduces the chances of unfavorable outcomes stemming from such nuance. Also (and you’ve made this point before too), it follows the course of action most likely to have been taken had the two defendants not included Donald Trump.

          All else being equal, the point seems rational.

          But, related to a question I asked yesterday, what do you think of the chances that the Special Counsel may have already been intending to add other conspirators—per Count 32 “known and unknown to the grand jury”—in either a superseding or additional indictment? And as count 32 allows for potential additional conspirators, it also, as you note, allows for additional locations: “…Palm Beach County, in the Southern District of Florida, and elsewhere…”

          Marcy answered my question with “…yes, the other known co-conspirators should be worried.” If so, could that have any impact on venue? Seems not to me but, hey, nuances…

          • Purple Martin says:

            Note: I wrote this before reading the further EW postings today, and now see Marcy wrote a full post addressing one of the topics I just asked you about. Still interested in your views on it.

  26. JonathanW says:

    Thanks for posting a link (I think in the previous thread) to the unsealed indictment document. I’m no lawyer, but am I mistaken when I conclude that the whole investigation would never had started had there been no classified documents in the 15 boxes originally returned to NARA? I.e. had Trump (or his minions) done a more thorough job of making sure those 15 boxes were just a bunch of other documents, NARA would have said “thanks very much” and gone along its merry way? The document talks about several episodes where Trump encouraged his lawyers to remove the damning documents from things they handed over later, so it’s alleging there that he purposefully held things back. But I don’t see much discussion about why he failed to hold back those classified docs in the original 15 boxes leading to the whole case. Sounds like he could have gotten away with hoarding all these secrets.

    Any of the legal and/or national security experts here have any thoughts on this? Am I right that someone at some agency would have at some point figured out these documents were missing and come looking? Or maybe I’m just reading this wrong.

    • timbozone says:

      Your thought experiment is highly speculative…as we do not clearly know what happened to the national defense information in these documents during all of 2021 yet. Further, if these boxes had not been turned over, who is to say that less scrutiny by our counter-intelligence folks on Mar-a-Lago wouldn’t have resulted in an even worse catastrophe? Further, the National Archives wasn’t going to just give up its quest for documents just because it received 15 boxes or not. There clearly were and are records missing from the National Archives still that should have been turned over as Trump left the White House.

      What I can say is that by now there likely would be a civil law suit in the DC federal circuit, possibly already adjudicated in favor of the National Archives, and with Trump in contempt of a civil ruling that he turn over all documents due the United States under the Presidential Records Act. And that’s at the very least.

      I also note that we also have people like Navarro who have their own separate failure to return government records case, etc. AFAIK, Navarro’s illegally retaining of government records case has nothing to do with Trump’s retention of secret government documents at Mar-a-Lago…although, without knowing what is specifically in the records Navarro still refuses to turn over who (besides Navarro) knows for sure, right?

      • JonathanW says:

        I really appreciate the feedback about how my thought experiment was speculation. Absolutely agree with that, and I should have added some more caveats to my question.

        And I also appreciate your points about how there would have potentially been other ways to get to where we are.

  27. Konny_2022 says:

    I’m still struggling with the different court locations in the SDFL. DOJ filed for WPB (indictment, p.45) whereas Trump had filed his complaint last August in the district of FTP (Fort Pierce) where Cannon seems to be the sole judge on duty. So may the case possibly still be transferred to the district of West Palm Beach where three judges (one of them senior) serve on a regular basis?

    Addendum: Just found the site with the official duty assignments for 2023 at

  28. Marinela says:

    Looking back on how the Mueller report was rolled out versus Jack Smith / Garland handling of the investigation.

    The report was submitted to Bill Barr and he stayed on it for a while, then Barr prepared the summary of the summary.
    Mueller was not allowed to present / explain his findings. This permitted Bill Barr to “land the plane”. While allowing Trump to spew lies about a report that supposedly “he never saw” in the timeframe that BB delayed the report release and consolidate a false narrative.
    And then the discussion shifted to what the report may show because everybody started to speculate, it cannot be that Mueller close the investigation before getting to the bottom of the criminal investigation and why the BB interference. Instead of discussing on the factual Mueller findings. By the time the report was released, the false narrative was already cemented, and MAGAts could breath easy that Trump got away with it.

    Contrast that mess with the way Jack Smith rolled the indictment under Merrick Garland. There was no Merrick Garland press pony show with summary of the indictment. Over the course of few days, Trump was told he was the target, then Trump was told to show up for the indictment next Tuesday, and then the indictment was unsealed. Then Jack S. talked for less then a minute, pointing to read the indictment. Simple and to the point.

    I am worried about Jack Smith safety, let’s hope for the best. Regardless of what happens in the future in the court, he is a good choice for this investigation. It is amazing what can be accomplished by a competent prosecutor / team. What a poker face. If he wants to run for Presidency he’s got my vote. But I am biased, I have a crush on the guy.

  29. Purple Martin says:

    The boxes of Trump’s affection | are changing his complexion | from white to orange-red.

    The flavors of Trump’s obstruction | move the odds of his destruction | from ‘meh’ to nearly dead.

  30. Worms_crawl_in says:

    Newbie here (will try to remember my monicker). Long time lurker. Impressed with the knowledge and acumen of those who post here.

    Maybe it is trivial. But I noticed a familiar name on the indictment: Reinhart. Where do I know that name from? Ah yes, He was the magistrate judge who signed the search warrant back in August a year ago. Lots about him in the press at the time.

    Does a magistrate judge stick with a judge, so that if a particular judge (Cannon) is assigned a case, the magistrate judge goes along with the judge? Or is there only a single magistrate judge in SDFL? Or is it coincidence? Or can something else be read into it?

    It does seem surprising to me, as others have mentioned, that the judge in a civil case between the two parties (Trump vs US) would be assigned to a criminal case (US vs Trump); it’s not as if the latter is in someway connected to the former, so assign the same judge.

    In trying to assess the odds of Cannon being assigned to this case, does Reinhart also being assigned to the case add any information?

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