The Mar-a-Lago Indictment Is a Tactical Nuke

I’ve become convinced that what I will call the Mar-a-Lago indictment — because I doubt this will be the only stolen documents one — is a tactical nuke: A massive tool, but simply a tactical one.

As I’ve laid out, it charges 31 counts of Espionage Act violations, each carrying a 10-year sentence and most sure to get enhancements for how sensitive the stolen documents are, as well as seven obstruction-related charges, four of which carry 20-year sentences. The obstruction-related charges would group at sentencing (meaning they’d really carry 20 year sentence total), but Espionage Act charges often don’t and could draw consecutive sentences: meaning Trump could be facing a max sentence of 330 years. Walt Nauta is really facing 20 years max — though probably around three or four years.

Obviously, Trump won’t serve a 330 year sentence, not least because Trump is mortal, already 76, and has eaten far too many burgers in his life.

For his part, Nauta should look on the bright side! He has not, yet, been charged with 18 USC 793(g), conspiring with Trump to hoard all those classified documents, though the overt acts in count 32, the conspiracy to obstruct count, would certainly fulfill the elements of offense of a conspiracy to hoard classified documents. If Nauta were to be charged under 793(g), he too would be facing a veritable life sentence, all for helping his boss steal the nation’s secrets. And for Nauta, who is in his 40s and healthy enough to lug dozens of boxes around Trump’s beach resort, that life sentence would last a lot longer than it would for Trump.

And that’s something to help understand how this is tactical.

I first started thinking that might be true when I saw Jack Smith’s statement.

He emphasized:

  • A grand jury in Florida voted out the indictment
  • The gravity of the crimes
  • The talent and ethics of his prosecutors
  • That Trump and Walt Nauta are presumed innocent
  • He will seek a Speedy Trial
  • A Florida jury will hear this case
  • The dedication of FBI Agents

He packed a lot in fewer than three minutes, but the thing that surprised me was his promise for a Speedy Trial. He effectively said he wants to try this case, charging 31 counts of the Espionage Act, within 70 days.

That means the trial would start around August 20, and last — per one of the filings in the docket — 21 days, through mid-September. While all the other GOP candidates were on a debate stage, Trump would be in South Florida, watching as his closest aides described how he venally refused to give boxes and boxes of the nation’s secrets back.

There’s not a chance in hell that will happen, certainly not for Trump. Even if Trump already had at least three cleared attorneys with experience defending Espionage Act cases, that wouldn’t happen, because the CIPA process for this case, the fight over what classified evidence would be available and how it would be presented at trial, would last at least six months. And as of yesterday, he has just one lawyer on this case, Todd Blanche, who is also defending Trump in the New York State case.

In fact, even though I understand how CIPA works, I’m not convinced this case can be tried. Before the indictment was unsealed, I imagined that Smith would charge about six documents, classified Secret, each of which demonstrated that Trump was exploiting the nation’s secrets, and just nod to the sensitivity of all the more sensitive secrets he was storing in an unlocked bathroom. Boy howdy was I wrong! Peter Strzok does the math to show that DOJ actually charged all but 13 of the Top Secret documents obtained either with the May 11, 2022 subpoena or in the August 8, 2022 search. And these are not just Top Secret. Of those documents whose compartments themselves are not classified, the documents include satellite intelligence, human intelligence, nuclear intelligence. Brandon Van Grack, one of the few other people who has been interested in the CIPA aspect of this case, seemed to struggle to describe the documents charged in this case.

One of the only ways I can imagine taking this to trial easily would be if the government had simply burned all the collection involved (including on the two Five Eyes documents), meaning presenting the documents he stole at trial would consist of one after another spook describing collection programs the government had to shut down because of Trump. In fact, last September, DOJ suggested they had had to do just that by invoking a letter NSA Director Mike Rogers sent in sentencing Nghia Pho. That letter described how, after discovering that Pho had compromised a bunch of NSA programs, the NSA had had to abandon much of it.

Once the government loses positive control over classified material, the government must often treat the material as compromised and take remedial actions as dictated by the particular circumstances. Depending on the type and volume of compromised classified material, such reactions can be costly, time consuming and cause a shift in or abandonment of programs. In this case, the fact that such a tremendous volume of highly classified, sophisticated collection tools was removed from secure space and left unprotected, especially in digital form on devices connected to the Internet, left the NSA with no choice but to abandon certain important initiatives, at great economic and operational cost.

For the moment, then, consider the possibility that this indictment is, as far as it involves Trump, simply a messaging document to alert Republicans who can still be reasoned with that Trump left the most sensitive secrets on a stage at Mar-a-Lago while weddings were going on and as a result, the IC simply shut down all the programs he had compromised.

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.

As the indictment describes, he was interviewed on May 26, 2022. As ¶53 through ¶62 show, that interview happened in the middle of the scheme to fool Evan Corcoran into submitting a false verification that Trump had returned everything (Corcoran, in turn, fooled Christina Bobb into signing it). Nauta moved boxes on the following days before and after his first interview:

  • May 22: One box out of storage
  • May 24: 3 boxes out of storage
  • May 26: Interview
  • May 30: 50 boxes out of storage
  • June 1: 11 boxes out of storage
  • June 2: 30 boxes from Trump’s residence to storage

As the indictment describes, Nauta moved 64 boxes out of storage and 30 back. This had the effect of ensuring that at least 34 boxes of classified documents were not reviewed by Corcoran.

There’s also this paragraph, one of the most important in the indictment:

72. Earlier that same day, NAUTA and others loaded several of TRUMP’s boxes along with other items on aircraft that flew TRUMP and his family north for the summer.

That paragraph makes it clear that some of those 34 boxes went to Bedminster, never to be seen again. I’ll count later and figure how many it was.

So in the middle of this scheme to keep 34 boxes of classified documents away from Corcoran, Nauta was interviewed by the FBI and asked about the last time Trump personally asked Nauta to sort through boxes of classified documents so he could hoard some. Several things in this indictment establish that Nauta knew this involved classified documents, including this picture from when Nauta arrived in the supposedly locked storage room to find one of the boxes had been knocked over by who knows what force and spilled open.

One of the most important paragraphs to demonstrate Nauta’s knowledge was that on January 15, Nauta texted the person who was helping him with these documents, saying:

One thing he asked

Was for new covers for the boxes, for Monday m.


*can we get new box covers before giving these to them on Monday? They have too much writing on them..I marked too much

When whatever force was in the storage room to knock over that box, they were labeled with their contents, because Nauta had sorted and labeled them.

With all that in mind, go back to Count 38 and read about the answers Nauta gave in an interview in the middle of a second effort to sort classified documents so some of them could be taken to Bedminster, never to be seen again. He was asked about the first time that happened. And days after he had moved boxes to Trump’s residence again, he claimed he was unaware of bringing them to the suite in the first place.

Question: Does any – are you aware of any boxes being brought to his home – his suite?

Answer: No.

The alleged lies go on — but they were enormous.

With all that in mind, I’d like to return to a story that was floating in the press until a few weeks ago about the second time Nauta was interviewed. As parroted by the NYT on May 4 (and not for the first time), DOJ made a mistake last fall because, when Nauta refused to cooperate, they didn’t choose to immunize him. They were simply helpless to get the information Nauta could share via any other means!

Last fall, prosecutors faced a critical decision after investigators felt Mr. Nauta had misled them. To gain Mr. Nauta’s cooperation, prosecutors could have used a carrot and negotiated with his lawyers, explaining that Mr. Nauta would face no legal consequences as long as he gave a thorough version of what had gone on behind closed doors at the property.

Or the prosecutors could have used a stick and wielded the specter of criminal charges to push — or even frighten — Mr. Nauta into telling them what they wanted to know.

The prosecutors went with the stick, telling Mr. Nauta’s lawyers that he was under investigation and they were considering charging him with a crime.

The move backfired, as Mr. Nauta’s lawyers more or less cut off communication with the government. The decision to take an aggressive posture toward Mr. Nauta prompted internal concerns within the Justice Department. Some investigators believed that top prosecutors, including Jay Bratt, the head of the counterespionage section of the national security division at the Justice Department, had mishandled Mr. Nauta and cut off a chance to win his voluntary cooperation.

More than six months later, prosecutors have still not charged Mr. Nauta or reached out to him to renew their conversation. Having gotten little from him as a witness, they are still seeking information from other witnesses about the movement of the boxes.

The story was always obvious bullshit. As I noted on May 23,

If being misled by Nauta led prosecutors to look more closely at the larger timeline of the missing surveillance video, only to find suspect ties to the Saudis, it was in no way a mistake. On the contrary, Woodward’s own decisions would have directly led to intensified scrutiny  of his client (as his decisions similarly are, in the effort to get Navarro to turn over Presidential Records Act documents).

The very next day, May 24, Nauta got a target letter.

Since Nauta got a target letter, the story has dramatically changed. It changed into a story in which Jay Bratt said something that Stan Woodward — the guy paid by Trump’s PAC whose legal advice to Nauta has left him facing obstruction charges — said something that seemed like coercion to Woodward.

At issue is an incident that took place last year, around November, when prosecutors were trying to gain the cooperation of valet Walt Nauta, who has been under scrutiny because prosecutors suspected he helped the former president conceal classified documents that had been subpoenaed.

Nauta had already spoken to prosecutors in the investigation when they called his lawyer Stanley Woodward and summoned him to a meeting at justice department headquarters for an urgent matter that they were reluctant to discuss over the phone, the letter said.

When Woodward arrived at the conference room, he was seated across from several prosecutors working on the investigation, including the chief of the counterintelligence section, Jay Bratt, who explained that they wanted Nauta to cooperate with the government against Trump, the letter said.

Nauta should cooperate with the government because he had given potentially conflicting testimony that could result in a false statements charge, the prosecutors said according to the letter. Woodward is said to have demurred, disputing that Nauta had made false statements.

Bratt then turned to Woodward and remarked that he did not think that Woodward was a “Trump guy” and that “he would do the right thing”, before noting that he knew Woodward had submitted an application to be a judge at the superior court in Washington DC that was currently pending, the letter said.

The allegation, in essence, is that Bratt suggested Woodward’s judicial application might be considered more favorably if he and his client cooperated against Trump. The letter was filed after Trump’s lawyers submitted a motion on Monday seeking grand jury transcripts, because of what they viewed as potential misconduct.

Significantly, that story changed on June 5, the same day as Trump’s lawyers, at least two of whom have subsequently left the team, met with Jack Smith.

When Nauta wasn’t going to get charged, Jay Bratt’s decision to play hardball was stupid, a mistake. A missed opportunity to get cooperation. When he was going to get charged, Bratt’s efforts to help Nauta avoid 20 or 330 year legal exposure became an ethical issue.

When Smith noted the integrity of his investigative team yesterday, he was signaling that he thinks this story is bullshit.

He may not be the only one, either. Jim Trusty made a really big deal about this new story on Thursday, when he had seen the summons but not the indictment. After he saw the indictment, he quit.

Which brings me to one other detail that I can’t get out of my head, given the uncharged examples of Trump disseminating classified information at Bedminster and the two instances when classified documents went to New Jersey never to be seen again.

One other reason Jack Smith gave to unseal the indictment was so he could share it to, among other entities, “sealed entities” and the grand jury in DC.

To the United States District Court of the District of Columbia, under seal, in relation to grand jury and sealed matters in that jurisdiction.

Among those sealed entities are the complaint that Woodward belatedly filed, after learning that Nauta got a target letter. Jack Smith needs to show Chief Judge James Boasberg that when Bratt strongly encouraged Woodward to advise his client to cooperate last November, DOJ already had really damning information showing he conspired to hoard these documents.

But the sealed entities aren’t the only entity that needs to see this indictment. So does a grand jury.

The investigation didn’t move, entirely, to Florida. Part of it was presented to a grand jury in Florida. But there are other parts that remain in DC, and those parts that remain in DC had to be told this indictment was coming.

This indictment is, in very significant part, a renewed invitation to Walt Nauta to cooperate in an ongoing grand jury investigation into what happens to documents when they go to Bedminster and disappear forever.

A very persuasive invitation.

Update: Fixed Stan Woodward’s last name.

Update: NYT has now done a piece covering these issues. They do not mention that just weeks ago, they were telling another story about this, fail to note that Trump routinely claims to believe things that he clearly does not, and treats the allegation itself as a set of “facts” that Trump got wrong, rather than an allegation only belatedly made months after the incident.

Around the same time, according to two people familiar with the matter, Mr. Woodward had a meeting about Mr. Nauta with prosecutors in the documents investigation, including Jay Bratt, from the Justice Department’s national security division, who was running the inquiry at the time.

During the meeting, the people said, Mr. Bratt tried to persuade Mr. Woodward to get Mr. Nauta to cooperate and then brought up the fact that he knew Mr. Woodward had a pending application to be a judge in the superior court in Washington. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers believe that Mr. Bratt was effectively trying to cajole, even threaten, Mr. Woodward to counsel his client to help the government — an allegation that Mr. Trump later made himself on social media, albeit with his facts slightly wrong.

Trump’s own press secretary couldn’t have written a more favorable spin.

Update: I forgot I promised to go back and try to figure out how many boxes went to Bedminster to disappear forever. We can’t know because the universe of boxes was in flux throughout this process. But here’s what we do know:


153 replies
  1. mathteacherjedi says:

    Marcy, can you explain why there hasn’t been a search of Bedminster and/or Trump Tower?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. “mathteacherjedi” is your second user name; your last known comment here was as “mathteacher.” Please pick a name and stick with it. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • ToldainDarkwater says:

      I’m not Marcy. But what she seems to be suggesting here is that there are other Grand Juries already convened in DC and NJ, and the crimes that occurred there are being investigated at those venues. I’m thinking that they want Nauta to directly testify to moving the boxes on the plane to Bedminster, and also as to where they were put in Bedminster, and that’s what they need to get a search warrant.

      Something like that. People who know more than I do have said, in this space, that “He’s got stolen property somewhere!” isn’t good enough to get a search warrant.

      • bmaz says:

        How many places do you want to have their courts clogged up with the same charges? This stuff is ludicrous. Other conduct is already “related” to Smith’s hand chosen venue, SDFL. Give it up.

        • billms says:

          Don’t worry bmaz – nobody is suggesting “clogging” up any courts with the same charges. If anything is filed they will be different charges. Don’t you know that?

        • bmaz says:

          No, I do not know that, that is not what has been suggested in comments here (it is EXACTLY what has been suggested here), and who exactly are you? Don’t you know that?

        • NaMaErA says:

          We should just let Drümpf off the hook for his myriad obvious other crimes because … why? No: we should aggressively investigate and charge ALL crimes EVERYWHERE, lest he walk free and, oh, I don’t know, become president again? Madness.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi jackass. Who is “Drumph”? And, yeah, economy of prosecutorial and judicial time should be a factor. The “rule of law”, such as it may be, is not all about your little personal political fee fees.

          Also, too, who are “we” Kemosabe?

        • Rayne says:

          Attn: NaMaErA — Try again, this time focusing on the topic of the post, with concision, and without the harangue aimed at moderation. A 301-word comment of which half could be excised is not concise or focused.

          By now every regular community member here knows bmaz’s hot buttons. If you’re going to press them anyhow, it’s into the bin.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        I disagree about probable cause for a Bedminster search warrant not having been reached yet. They have visuals of the doc boxes headed to Bedminster. They have ample evidence of intent to obstruct and to retain possession of missing, highly classified NARA documents, and they have evidence that at least one of those docs was already at Bedminster a couple years ago. Any other former gov’t employee who’s been caught sequestering such material from its rightful gov’t authority would have not just been searched exhaustively already, they would most likely be in pre-trial detention.

        But we’re not talking about “any other former gov’t employee,” are we? I think that mathteacher’s question is apt, and that the answer may be “Smith needs to build public awareness of the seriousness of these crimes in order to take it to the next level.” IOW, he may want a large portion of the US citizenry to be asking, “Why the hell haven’t they searched Bedminster and Trump Tower already?” before those searches take place.

        Like Marcy’s assessment of this tranche of charges being at least partly “tactical” with regard to pushing Nauta away from Trump, it may also be so with regard to the next level of confrontation that his team is prepping for, as relates to public acceptance – or even expectation – of such a push.

        One follow-on question: what is the mechanism for Smith’s team to ask (or for whatever US intel agency to ask) MI5 (or 6?) to execute their own search of Trump’s golf course residences over there?

        • Scott_in_MI says:

          “I think that mathteacher’s question is apt, and that the answer may be “Smith needs to build public awareness of the seriousness of these crimes in order to take it to the next level.” IOW, he may want a large portion of the US citizenry to be asking, “Why the hell haven’t they searched Bedminster and Trump Tower already?” before those searches take place.”

          If there are documents whose unsecured status threatens national security, thought with probable cause to be at Bedminster, one would hope that considerations of optics like the ones you’re describing would take a back seat.

        • wrog____ says:

          also the small matter that taking time to get the optics right also allows time for said documents to be moved *from* Bedminster/Trump-Tower to somewhere else. It’s self-defeating.

          As if there hasn’t *already* been plenty of time to move them, seeing as it’s now 10 months later.

          Getting Nauta to cooperate and/or making a proper example of him is probably the only real chance of getting those documents back.

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          Well, thus my question about UK agencies searching at his place in Scotland (where he was when the E Jean Carroll trial was going down). They would have to have a cleared US agent with them, I assume, but I’m thinking that’s a more likely hidey hole than Bedminster at this point.

          Otoh, Trump’s thinking is driven by his psychopathy, delusions and all, and there’s no saying how he’s processing all this ego-threatening turmoil. The photos from MAL (god I love that acronym) aren’t indicative of a mastermind, rather of a hoarder, after all. I’m assuming there’s a forensic psychologist on Smith’s team.

          And yes, Nauta flipping would be ideal, but that ain’t gonna happen as long as Trump lawyers are guiding him.

          As to the national security implications of all this, that’s the Damocles’ sword hanging over Smith’s head (not over Trump’s though, because he’s incapable of imagining his own demise) as there’s ample evidence already on the books that Trump has other designs (other than bragging and masturbating, that is) for some of those docs: he’s demonstrably unscrupulous, avaricious, and desirous of the adulation of famous people, especially demagogues and tyrants. His subservience to Putin is a historical fact. His daughter got $2B large from MBS shortly after he left office, and his part in LIV’s ascendance may well have a NatSec component. Hell, a Chinese agent was wandering through the resort in 2019, and the Ukrainian imposter posing as a Rothschild heiress was found out (after photos of her with Trump and Graham) only just after the August ’22 search warrant was executed by Garland.

          Anyone who thinks Trump hasn’t peddled or pushed any number of top secrets to any number of bad actors isn’t thinking straight. He sees himself as invincible, after all.

          Here’s this morning’s WaPo opinion piece by Abernathy, decrying Smith’s indictment as weak tea for nailing a former POTUS:
          Maybe that beltway-both-siderism perspective will push Smith to put another warrant before, say, an NJ or NY judge.

        • bmaz says:

          “I’m assuming there’s a forensic psychologist on Smith’s team.”

          Why would you assume that, such is not standard issue at all.

          “Anyone who thinks Trump hasn’t peddled or pushed any number of top secrets to any number of bad actors isn’t thinking straight.”

          You have facts to support that?

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          1) Defendant is a certifiable Grandiose, Malignant Narcissist whose motivations and reactive, as well as proactive, behaviors can be predicted. Why wouldn’t you want an expert in that field of psychopathology on the team to run strategy by?

          2) That statement wasn’t an assertion of fact, it was an assertion of observational deduction. However, getting a judge to sign off on a search warrant for any other of the Trump properties shouldn’t require probable cause that he’s parlayed, say, the Iran attack plan to MBS; all that’s needed is to persuade the judge of the likelihood that there’s more purloined government property in a given location.

          The likelihood that some of that property has been sold or bartered for Trump’s personal advantage is a prosecutorial incentive for further searches, such that stronger EA charges might be possible — and that’s why I made that comment.

          Certainly, there’s risk to Smith in expanding his search of Trump properties: coming up empty would be a PR nightmare, given Trump’s expertise in deflection. But to assume that he’s efficiently squirreled everything away in some unknown location is — given Trump’s organizational M.O. which has all directives of any consequence coming solely from his own blinkered, megalomaniacal mind and carried out by his fucking valet (and random dudes happening to be walking by to help out, for chrissake) — about as unlikely as an assumption that he’s going to go for a plea bargain.

          I just hope they deny bail to Nauta, and that they’ve got a sealed eavesdropping warrant for Bedminster. THAT would be strategic.

        • wrog____ says:

          given the amount of scrutiny stuff generally gets at customs & immigration, the number of properties he has in the US, and (most likely) the additional laws that would come into play if he were to be actually *caught* moving a classified document cache across a national border, I’d be really surprised to see it ending up in Scotland.

          (to be sure, I have at this point given up on setting a lower bar on his stupidity, but the people around him who’d have to *actually do* the deed probably still have a few working brain cells).

      • nothin from nothin says:

        Back to a search warrant of Bedminster, a former DOJ official on MSNBC said the information about boxes going to Bedminster is now stale, whereas a warrant requires current knowledge.

        As regards “clogging up courts” with “the same charges,” um maybe they want to get the classified documents back for the sake of getting the classified documents back?

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

        • BRUCE F COLE says:

          That opinion about the boxes moving to Bedminster being stale evidence for the purposes of another search warrant, expressed elsewhere as well, is flawed: what’s not stale is Trump’s demonstrated intention to obstruct the government’s attempts to regain possession of the documents he stole, and to obscure the locations of same. His current rabid commentary confirms that he hasn’t changed his mind or his M.O.

          That’s enough for any other suspect in a case of this magnitude to be both searched wherever he might have hidden anything material to the case, and to be detained pre-trial.

          Did the search for Teixeira’s purloined docs stop at his domicile?

          But he’s a former POTUS, that’s what comprises “stale” in this case.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh no, it is stale by this point. Why bother? If anything, issue a subpoena and let it go. Keeping things in perspective is helpful.

    • ralph white says:

      How significant is it that Judge Cannon will be presiding?
      Sorry if it’s been addressed already.

      Ok, finally read down to the posts regarding her. If she doesn’t recuse, or isn’t replaced, how much influence can she have? I imagine if she tried to summarily dismiss the charges the Fifth Circuit would reverse her.

        • bmaz says:

          If she self recuses, okay, though I have no idea in the world why she would. Let us hope, but there is nothing requiring her to do so.

  2. timbozone says:

    Very timely analysis! I hope that all this information, once it sinks in, leads to more cooperation in the ongoing national security investigations into what other sensitive defense information is missing/possibly compromised.

    Here in the States it is time for bed…and as someone who is often prickly would say “And rightly so!” So I do hope that you too are able to take a bit of rest if and when it become wiser to bide awhile with Somnus than not. (And I hope that there is the correct use of “than”, “then” to awake…)

    • Ben Soares says:

      ….what tha whhhat ? You can read between the lines – but feel the need to pick out – flubs
      cccome on ….

  3. Spank Flaps says:

    At some point the right wing might try the “espionage is journalism” approach.
    Like they did with Assange, Snowden and Teixeira.
    It’s a bit like saying Princess Leia was just a whistleblower, when she ran off with the Death Star plans.

      • Jeremy Daw says:

        When our only source of information was books, indeed, the winners controlled history. But that is no longer the case. We are all waking up to this fact.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Same dynamic, different tools. Digital media can be dominated, just in a different manner than dead tree publishing.

      • Barry Barnes says:

        Actually historians write the history books. They come from every strata and both sides.
        The suggestion that history, as it is written, is monolithic, doesn’t bear scrutiny.
        Ask any historian.

        • bmaz says:

          Actually, all kinds of people write books. What constitutes a “historian” is an incredibly open question. What are you?

      • Drew in Bronx says:

        That’s a truism that’s only applicable in some ways. 1) School textbooks are approved by boards appointed by governments run by winners of elections. There are some other things like that. 2) When a new culture becomes overwhelmingly dominant, like Christianity in late antiquity, lots of dissenting information disappears, either by intentional destruction or lack of interest in making new copies.

        However, information and opinions seldom disappear entirely, and when a culture is deeply contested lots of things remain and the losers write their own histories–eventually these may become dominant. Over time, pure bs is pretty universally recognized as such–but it takes lots of sorting.

        • taluslope says:

          Thank you for mentioning:

          “When a new culture becomes overwhelmingly dominant, like Christianity in late antiquity, lots of dissenting information disappears, either by intentional destruction or lack of interest in making new copies”

          This is a particular fascination of mine and I’m trying to write a fictional narrative about it. St. Irenaues (Contra As Heresies) was just one of many early Christians who controlled the narrative and rooted out “evil”. Very little survived of the beliefs of the very early Jesus movement after St. Paul wrote his epistles and his ideas were picked up by the authors of the gospels.

          In this instance, the winners very much wrote the history books.

  4. vigetnovus says:

    Hmmm…I never considered the possibility that 793 counts would run consecutively rather than concurrently…. Of course, that’s at the discretion of the judge so…not holding my breath.

    But even with the obstruction charges, he could be looking at the max sentence for obstruction given the seriousness of the underlying crime and any enhancements that might be applied. 20 years is still a long time.

    • Magoo_10JUN2023_1840h says:

      I cannot believe any American judge would sentence an ex-president to jail time regardless of the crime. If it is xpotus is so important that it warrants lifetime security, the govt can’t risk subjecting that person to a prison. I would assume the worst would be house arrest similar to Escobar – sentenced to live in luxury without leaving the grounds. But any trial that gets all the facts to public is worth it for the future of the country and the history books.

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      • bmaz says:

        It is not “jail time”, the issue is prison. They are fundamentally different things. And, yes, if required, any proper American judge would do just that.

        • Rayne says:

          Bureau of Prisons is/has likely been discussing already how to secure Trump.

          After Special Counsel made the point that laws apply to all, Trump should expect to be treated like all other citizens.

          I don’t recall any other celebrities getting special treatment, regardless of their role as a public official or personality.

        • bmaz says:

          Doubtful, far too ahead of time for BOP to be planning, they have more current things to deal with. And, yes, trust me, they really do take into consideration special circumstances cases as to “celebrities”. As well they should as the taxpayers’ dime hangs in the lurch.

          Maybe Trump can be sent to Carswell where, like Reality Winner, he can the treated for weight issues. Winner’s were for bulimia, Trump would be for the opposite end of the spectrum.

        • Rayne says:

          So you’re telling me Martha Stewart wasn’t placed with the rest of the prison population. Hmm.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, I am telling you exactly that. Stewart was placed in a federal prison camp, not a regular prison, that was female only and of the lowest security level. She was NEVER gen pop in a regular prison. There is a huge difference.

        • bmaz says:

          No, they are not officially contemplating any potential Trump imprisonment, not a chance. Nor should they be ahead of any trial and conviction.

        • timbozone says:

          Would it be that surprising if the prosecutors had looked into this already? I mean, if you have a national security issue of this magnitude, you have to be ready to hold someone on very short notice, someone who may be actively trying to disseminate the nation’s secrets willy-nilly.

  5. Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

    So…what’s the odds there’s a grand jury in Jersey? Or would the remaining just be in DC?

  6. David F. Snyder says:

    Gotta be. Thanks for the analysis. Now that ‘speedy trial’ statement makes more sense, though I imagine it also as a statement that the delay tactics Trump uses so well in civil cases won’t be getting much traction in a criminal case.

  7. sunflores says:

    Knowing that indictments are one sided, what can we expect as far as a trial strategy from Trump? Is there a recent criminal trial of suspected Espionage Act violations?

  8. TCBullCity says:

    After reading @secretsandlaws summary yesterday, specifically the part about how this indictment could not possibly end up with TFG in jail before the election due to the pre-trial procedures, this makes a lot of sense. It feels like this is the splashy indictment to kick things off, get all the press, make the first impression, etc. But most crucially of all, maybe get Nauta to flip.

    My hope is that they pursue smaller and quicker indictments elsewhere. DC, Bedminster, wherever, that can actually move quickly, while this one gets the press and drains attention and resources

  9. SomeGuyInMaine says:

    … in Bedminster

    I’ve been wondering about Bedminster. The indictment seem to provide probable cause to search there. The Nauta angle might explain why investigators could delay searching there.

    If Nauta, cooperates, that could really inform a Bedminster search. Clock is ticking.

    (So when you get a fortune in a fortune cookie, instead of adding ‘…in bed’ try adding ‘… in Bedminster.’)

  10. jecojeco says:

    Thanks for your timely insights Dr W

    Has there been any publicly disclosed comments/ summary of still unaccounted for secret & defense docs that DOJ & NARA believe trump took, esp to Bedminster? It’s reasonable to assume that trump is still hanging on to the creme de la creme of the docs he stole, either because of their monetization value or their embarrassment factor (if that’s ever possible for trump). Why no search warrant for Bedminster in light of what they’ve found so far. Has trump and his gang that can’t shoot straight given DOJ a second bite at the apple with DC GJ munching on his obstruction and doc disclosures at Bedminster and maybe other trump props. This could be critical if Loosey Cannon goes full MAGA again and just dismisses all FL charges against trump.

    Nauta had a text exchange with a female trump family member who clearly had knowledge of the movement of boxes to Bedminster, they must have been questioned about it and either lied or cooperated to some degree, they weren’t IDd. My money is on Malania who certainly doesn’t want to go to prison so maybe cooperating (or maybe DOJ doesn’t want to deal with the optics of charging the Miss MAGA Centerfold with felonies).

    There will be repeated trial delay requests as trump attys cut and run as they navigate a minefield of co-conspirator or witness decisions.

    If these boxes were filled with drugs instead of national security documents seizures of MAL and Bedminster would be supported by law & order GOPers, how can they sqwak if seized properties were used for espionage? (Except for the fact that it’s “their guy” conducting the espionage.) This will hopefullybe a future bite at a trump apple.

    • Scott_in_MI says:

      “Why no search warrant for Bedminster in light of what they’ve found so far.”

      As people have said repeatedly, presumably it’s because DOJ doesn’t have probable cause for a warrant to search Bedminster. Given the current information, though, it seems reasonable to speculate that lack of probable cause, in this case, *might* not be due to DOJ having insufficient evidence that docs went to Bedminster – it seems likely that they do – but instead *perhaps* because they have positive evidence that the documents are no longer there. Where they might have gone is left as an exercise for the reader.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Doesn’t mean the DoJ hasn’t and isn’t continuously monitoring and investigating, potentially from the inside, the goings and comings at Bedminster. There may be reasons not to proceed there beside the absence of probable cause.

        • Rwood0808 says:

          Could this be a case of “We’d like to move forward with charges, but he just keeps crimeing and delivering us more cases”?

          “Ok, let’s move in and search Bedminster….wait a minute….what are all these Saudis doing here?”

        • Jeremy Bates says:

          Such as…?
          There is a possibility, now that Tre45on has been indicted on the Florida documents, that the FBI will search Bedminster (pursuant to court-approved warrant) while TFG and his personal Secret Service detail are en route back to Miami.
          That said, why wait to search Bedminster until the Florida indictment becomes public? Why that sequencing?
          If it’s done with an eye to the ongoing interference from the Republican-controlled House, do the SC/DOJ/FBI really think that the Republicans will care? Would the GOP stop interfering merely because the Bedminster search was 1000 percent justified, and produces (let’s say) three dozen more indictable documents?
          Seems a false hope to me.

        • Rayne says:

          Please avoid cutesy names for Trump, just refer to him by name. The cutesy names irritates our more prickly moderator to no end. Thanks.

        • bmaz says:

          JFC, do NOT use stupid appellations like “Tre45on”. Do it again and your comment will get bounced.

        • Bill_14JAN2021_2209h says:

          And yet we hear about Elmo, MattyDickPics, AreaSubStacker, the MAGAts, etc. all the time. The site hardly disavows cutesy names and stupid appellations.

          [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 and common it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          And, yet, as always, you should not do that if you want this site, and your comments on it, to be searchable. And especially not ones that are idiotically premised on “treason”. Do not do that.

        • Rayne says:

          When you create and moderate your own site, you can implement your own rules. You’re not going to police this site.

          You’re also not making any distinction between owner/contributors/moderators when it comes to naming conventions. Pay more attention.

        • obsessed says:

          Speaking of probable cause, does the unsealed indictment reveal the solution to the original mystery about the source of the redacted information that DOJ used to convince Judge Reinhart to approve the original search warrant last summer? How did they obtain the fresh intel that if they searched M-a-L they’d find more documents? Thanks in advance.

        • Operandi says:

          I haven’t looked back at the redacted affidavit to refresh myself all the blanks it has that need to be filled.

          But per page 26 of the indictment, between getting the subpoena returns in June and the search warrant in August, the FBI + GJ obtained and reviewed surveillance footage in July. Which showed Nauta playing “hide the boxes” with Corcoran. That’s probable cause right there.

        • Operandi says:

          C’mon. I cited the literal page of the indictment here.

          The question obsessed asked was “How did they obtain the fresh intel that if they searched M-a-L they’d find more documents?”

          The start of the section entitled “The Court-Authorized Search of The Mar-a-Lago Club”
          starts with

          73. In July 2022, the FBI and grand jury obtained and reviewed surveillance video from The Mar-a-Lago Club showing the movement of boxes set forth above.

          Am I bullshitting that July is between June and August?

        • taluslope says:

          Many keep asking why haven’t other Trump properties been searched. Let me just throw out a possibility:

          Because DOJ doesn’t have witnesses providing evidence or testimony that if the FBI searches residence X tomorrow, they will find document Y.

          It’s a little crazy to believe that if the DOJ had solid evidence that classified existed at a Trump property, they wouldn’t try to retrieve it immediately (courts allowing the search of course).

  11. Bill_10JUN2023_0742h says:

    Marcy, Twitter has a warning that this link may be unsafe.

    The link you are trying to access has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially spammy or unsafe, in accordance with Twitter’s URL Policy. This link could fall into any of the below categories:
    • malicious links that could steal personal information or harm electronic devices
    • spammy links that mislead people or disrupt their experience
    • violent or misleading content that could lead to real-world harm
    • certain categories of content that, if posted directly on Twitter, are a violation of the Twitter Rules

    [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]

  12. Dmbeaster says:

    This indictment is clearly not the whole story (as amazing as it is by itself). There has been speculation about what else Trump has concealed and was not found with the search at Mar a Lago. Now it seems to be clear that another pile of classified material went to Bedminster and disappeared altogether. Nauta seems to be a great source for tracking that down. If he flips, the current indictment is just the opening act.

    God, Trump is such a criminal, and just incapable of not coveting and keeping for himself all of this classified material for a wide range of nefarious purposes. His bragging about it on tape reveals step one of his thinking. He was wowed by the explosiveness of some of this secret information and wants it. He may not have any immediate plan on how to use it when he takes it. He just knows that it has massive sizzle, and it’s highest and best value will reveal itself at some future time.

  13. Seth_10JUN2023_0808h says:

    I clicked through from Twitter and got: “The link you are trying to access has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially spammy or unsafe…” WTF?

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

  14. Desidero says:

    Gov has lots of experience with “cooperating” witnesses really willing to take the bag for Trump, including Manafort, Flynn, Weisselberg, initially Cohen…
    How do you think Cannon’s selection as FL judge affects this round of action? Do you think she’ll be as disruptive as before, or has that chain shortened…?

  15. BriceFNC says:

    As I read the indictment I was struck by how clean it was in it’s focus upon actions at MAL. Could not help but wonder could Trump next be hit for his action on Jan 20, 2021 as he vacated the WH. Continue to wonder where Meadows and others who have been written about extensively fit in to the picture. Could additional charges for initial removal of documents from WH remain possible?

  16. Mike Stone says:

    With respect to the meeting where Bratt may or may not have done something that could be considered as misconduct, wouldn’t the DOJ have a video recording of this meeting? Also, I would presume that there were multiple people at that meeting as well who could be witnesses. If so, this could be put quickly to bed. This sounds like the kind of thing that Trump creates in order to allow his media followers accuse the DOJ of not treating him fairly.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exactly. The allegation against Bratt is a standard attack strategy universally used by Trump. It’s an indicator of Trump’s fear and a measure of his perceived vulnerability. Woodward, like the other attorneys Trump has had paid to defend those who could make him vulnerable, might see his primary duty as defending Trump. As was true for Cassidy Hutchinson, it’s time for Nauta to get another lawyer.

      • Fran of the North says:

        Like most if not all of Trump’s expenditures, this was purely transactional. It’s never about the underling, always about protecting the master.

        I hope Nauta has other friends with deep pockets. My guess is that good representation is going to be spendy.

        • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

          They are indeed good lawyers (my cousin is one), but their investigative resources are limited. And does Nauta really qualify as “indigent”?

          Not that I think Nauta will swap lawyers. His livelihood depends on Trump’s good graces. He’s not Cassidy Hutchinson, a far more sophisticated person with far more resources. I hope I’m wrong.

          My practice was in Wall Street, and I dabbled in enforcement work. We routinely assumed that the counsel hired by big banks for their peeps was representing the bank: ethics, schmethics.

        • Drew in Bronx says:

          I’m not a lawyer, but several of the January 6 defendants (who are definitely not indigent in terms of having income & assets) have Federal Public defenders. It appears that some arrangement is made for them to pay a portion of the cost, determined by their ability to pay.

        • Hether says:

          I thought I read somewhere her parents had to mortgage their home to pay for her new counsel. I could be mistaken but I don’t think she is that wealthy.

          [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. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  17. SaltinWound says:

    It seems like Bratt bringing up Woodward’s relationship with Trump would have been pointing out the obvious conflict of interest, similar to what Hutchison was dealing with before she changed lawyers.

  18. pdaly says:

    I estimate Trump’s ability to get through boxes on his own at a rate of 1 -2 boxes per day based on comments included in the indictment. If Trump had help, then perhaps he got through a larger batch of boxes?

    Of the 64 boxes (from the approximately 80 boxes then in the MAL Storage Room in May 2022) that Nauta brought to Trumps MAL residence between May 23, 2022 and June 2, 2022 at Trump’s direction, Trump, working on his own, would have reviewed 3 of 3 boxes (5/24/22) + 8 of 50 boxes (5/30/22) + 0 of 11 boxes (6/1/22, assuming Trump was still sorting through the 5/30/22 boxes) working at a rate of 1-2 boxes per day.

    Assuming 30 out of the 30 boxes that Nauta returned to the MAL Storage Room on June 2, 2022 (before Trump Lawyer began his review of the storage room) were some of the SAME boxes that Nauta had earlier removed from the Storage Room that spring, it seems, by my math, that Trump would have reviewed only 11 of them (max) unless Trump had help.
    And this assumes the other 34 boxes that were not returned to the Storage Room were taken to Bedminster and only then pawed through?

    A Bedminster location of MAL boxes makes this inclusion in the indictment a juicy dangle:
    c. On May 30, 2022, at 12:33 p.m., a Trump family member texted NAUTA:

    Good afternoon Walt,
    Happy Memorial Day! I saw you put boxes to Potus room. Just FYI and I will tell him as well: Not sure how many he wants to take on Friday on the plane. We will NOT have a room for them. Plane will be full with luggage. Thank you!

    NAUTA replied:
    Good Afternoon Ma’am [Smiley Face Emoji] Thank you so much.
    I think he wanted to pick from them. I don’t imagine him wanting to take the boxes. He told me to put them in the room and that he was going to talk to you about them.

    So not only Nauta and the Employee 2, but also a Trump family member are eye witnesses to Trump moving around boxes.

    • pdaly says:

      Unrelated to the above (?), I noticed this line in the indictment showing Trump was up to his usual tricks of borrowing another person’s phone.
      I hope DOJ tracked down the details of the call/text Trump made on it.

      “On December 7, 2021, NAUTA found several of TRUMP’s boxes fallen and their contents spilled onto the floor of the Storage Room, including a document marked “SECRET//REL TO USA, FVEY,”
      NAUTA also attached two photographs he took of the spill.
      Trump Employee 2 replied, “Oh no oh no,” and “I’m sorry potus had my phone.””

      • harpie says:

        Yes. So, they know what time Trump “had” [was using?] Trump employee 2’s phone…I wonder if that’s helpful to them in any way.

        • nord dakota says:

          That reference caught my attention too. I’ve read about Trump using other people’s phones, I wonder what Trump’s reaction was when seeing the photos, can’t imagine he’d be pleased–less because of security than who let that mess happen. Imagine there is a lot of yes sir, whatever pleases you sir, of course sir by staff, and maybe those are all the people who say “Sir” with tears in their eyes or else awed adoration.

  19. Ruthie2the says:

    Marcy is a master of leaving tantalizing possibilities unsaid. In addition to the obvious (given the indictment’s description of documents having been taken to Bedminster), recent press reports have also described the SC asking about deals between Trump and the Saudis/other foreign entities that might be implicated here. If she’s right about the SDFL indictment being a tactical nuke, it doesn’t preclude even more serious charges to come even with regard to the documents investigation, never mind J6.

  20. Eichhörnchen says:

    Marcy, this yet another example of the spectacular work you do. Normally, my spouse (also a commenter here) makes contributions on behalf of both of us. But with this piece, I hit a tipping point and have “subscribed” in my own right.
    As a literary scholar and philologist I am dazzled by your superb close reading. I learn something new everytime I come here.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      Agree one hundred percent. This is why I have always believed that the best pre-law training is not a business degree, but a literature degree. Explication de texte forever.

    • emptywheel says:

      Ah the best kind of compliment! From someone who recognizes this is just repurporsed CompLit PhD.

      Thank you!

      • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

        I’m guessing that educational repurposing has not only ended up being a meal ticket for many readers of this site but one of the most important influences on outlook and character. Guessing as well I’m not the only one who looks to you as an absolute hero for having shown us all how it’s really done, and just how powerful it can be.

  21. UncleDavid says:

    I’d like some clarity about the photos of boxes on the stage, in the bathroom, spilled on the floor. I’ve heard it asserted, passim, that they contain classified documents and not merely(!) violations of the PRA or letters to Dear Donald.

    My understanding is that they were photos taken by MAL staff and ending up in Smith’s evidence locker. Did anyone give evidence as to their content? I haven’t heard that anyone from FBI got a contemporaneous look inside. Are they just a dramatization of the hoarding tendency?

    As to the spilled box, I admit I only saw the WaPo cover but haven’t taken a magnifying glass to the rest.

  22. Eric Diesel says:

    Is there reporting on DOJ efforts to obtain electronic versions of docs? It’s unusual for anyone to keep paper documents without also making electronic versions. It would be uncharacteristic of Trump to return “his” documents to NARA in Jan 2022, without 1st scanning or copying them. Trump’s May 2022 response to NYAG subpoena is unusually narrowly (and unresponsive) written in a way that indicates T has docs in electronic and/or cloud storage. If copies were made of docs returned to NARA, Nauta might be involved at least in delivering boxes to whoever made copies/scans.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. “Eric Diesel” is your second user name; you’ve commented previously as “Eric John Diesel.” Please pick a name and stick with it. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • nord dakota says:

      I asked a question before I figured was dumb and now don’t remember which post and can’t find.
      These documents that are not written in Sharpie to start with are created electronically, aren’t they–ie on a computer? What is considered “the document” vs an electronic document? Does every document get physically signed by somebody?

      • cmarlowe says:

        >> to start with are created electronically, aren’t they–ie on a computer?

        Yes of course in most cases. It will also contain the name of the person who classified the material as well as the names of derivative classifiers. Physical signatures on print outs — as I recall generally not.

        Not relevant here but keep in mind that some classified material is never printed out and is only viewed on computer screens.

    • Hether says:

      Good question. Also in the famous photo that was taken in his office during the search, with documents spread out over the carpet, in the upper left corner is a black hard drive. Trump doesn’t use computers. Just imagine what’s on that.

  23. hiking_harrije says:

    Doesn’t matter what tactics are used, Nauta is never going to flip because he thinks Trump, or someone else in the GOP, will be able to pardon him after the 2024 elections. Plenty of other Trump criminals have gotten off so far, why not Nauta? Even if Trump cannot help Nauta, plenty of GOP politicians have made it clear they are willing to interfere with convictions (e.g. Abbott’s declared pan to pardon openly racist Daniel Perry). For sure Trump aides, and even Nauta’s lawyer, are telling him to just stay the course because worse case he only needs to hold on until just after the 2024 elections. And now they’re telling Nauta that Judge Cannon is friendly, so no need to fear. And also that Nauta will now become a “Conservative Celebrity” a la Rittenhouse and Flynn…

    On the other hand, using Nauta as an example for others, will help tactically moving forward, at least until Nauta gets off scot-free, one way or another, sooner or later… (hope I’m wrong here).

    • timbozone says:

      The thing is though that “even Nauta’s lawyers” are in fact being paid for by Trump, not Nauta. As mentioned in other comments here, Cassidy Hutchinson got rid of the Trump funded lawyer and went with her own lawyer when it became apparent that “her” lawyer might not have her best interests in the crosshair.

  24. Schychka says:

    I think there is a huge story behind Trump’s lawyers’ resignation. They probably have ethics.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. Please confirm that’s what you did here, though. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • timbozone says:

      They likely have pending legal obligations that conflict with that of their former client. Many of Trump’s ever growing number of former lawyers (and some of his current ones too!) may eventually have to give testimony that may not be exculpatory for their former client.

    • taluslope says:

      An MSNBC commentator suggested that lawyers aren’t allowed to bail on a client once things get going (I don’t know one way or another). Commentator suggested that lawyer can’t bail even it they aren’t being paid. Thus lawyers quitting now may must be thinking of their paycheck.

      Another commentator suggested they may have been fired because they didn’t keep Trump from being indicted.

  25. harpie says:

    [I did a transcript of SMITH’s announcement.]

    Complete statement from Special Counsel Jack Smith on Trump Indictment [C-Span]

    SMITH: Good afternoon. Today an indictment was unsealed, charging Donald J. Trump with felony violations of our national security laws, as well as participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. This indictment was voted by a grand jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida, and I invite everyone to read it in full, to understand the scope and the gravity of the crimes charged.

    The men and women of the United States intelligence community and our armed forces dedicate their lives to protecting our nation and its people. Our laws that protect national defense information, are critical to the safety and security of the United States, and they must be enforced. Violations of those laws put our country at risk.

    Adherence to the rule of law is a bedrock principle of the Department of Justice, and our nation’s commitment to the rule of law sets an example for the world. We have one set of laws in this country, and they apply to everyone. Applying those laws, collecting facts, that’s what determines the outcome of an investigation. Nothing more, and nothing less. The prosecutors in my office are among the most talented and experienced in the Department of Justice. They have investigated this case hewing to the highest ethical standards, and they will continue to do so as this case proceeds.

    It’s very important for me to note, that the defendants in this case must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in a court of law. To that end, my office will seek a speedy trial in this matter, consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused. We very much look forward to presenting our case to a jury of citizens in the Southern District of Florida.

    In conclusion, I would like to thank the dedicated public servants of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with whom my office is conducting this investigation, and who work tirelessly everyday, upholding the rule of law in our country. I am deeply proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Thank you very much.

    • solong tinman says:

      Thank you, Harpie, for putting this out.

      Reading the text a few times helped me sense, actually feel on my skin, the reassuring tone of Smith’s response: This is what we believe happened here. We are here to reassure you this is a safe place. You are protected in this safe place.

      When I taught in public schools, with 9 – 12 year olds, I realized very soon the importance of safety to children who did not have that at home or in their neighborhood. Any instance of bullying or name calling or intimidating in room 201 was called out, confronted. If not by me, then often by other students. With a, “Hey! We don’t do that here!”

      Hopefully, perhaps a few seeds got planted for ripening in later on.

    • solong tinman says:

      Thank you, Harpie, for putting this out.

      Reading the text a few times helped me sense, actually feel on my skin, the reassuring tone of Smith’s response:

      This is what we believe happened here. We are here to reassure you this is a safe place. You are protected in this safe place.

      When I taught in public schools, with 9 – 12 year olds, I realized very soon the importance of safety to children who did not have that at home or in their neighborhood. Any instance of bullying or name calling or intimidating in room 201 was called out, confronted. If not by me, then often by other students. With a, “Hey! We don’t do that here!”

      Hopefully, a few seeds get planted for ripening in later on.

  26. soundgood2 says:

    I am interested in Trump attending the meeting with Bratt at Mar A Lago. He postponed his trip to Bedminister so he could be there is what I read. Why was he there? Was he making sure Corcoran and Bobb didn’t say the wrong thing? He didn’t do a very good job of going through the boxes to remove all classified docs. He left stuff for Corcoran to find. Why? Did he just look for particular docs he could use? Nauta might know a lot more very incriminating stuff which could put him in jail for a very long time. His lawyer may be telling him he is going to jail no matter what and his best chance is to help Trump get reelected.

    At some point the judge will be advising him that his attorney has a conflict. Can the judge insist that he get another attorney or at least advice from another attorney? Otherwise he could appeal any conviction claiming compromised representation, right?

  27. Willis Warren says:

    A lawyer friend and I were reviewing the indictment and he suggested it may be a first step to get Nauta to flip. Good analysis, Dr Wheeler

    • bidrec-gap says:

      Flipping a sailor is non-trivial. Going against your commanding officer even a crazy one is insubordination or worse mutiny. See the novel The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk or the factional version The Arnheiter Affair by Neal Sheehan for context.

      This is some version of a prisoner’s dilemma if Nauta does not flip maybe Trump will be his Commander In Chief again. If he does flip maybe he won’t.

      • Rayne says:

        There’s no prisoner’s dilemma here. The Nuremberg “just following orders” defense is fail. An illegal order is an illegal order even if the president issues it, and it’s an illegal order if an ex-president issues it.

        Nauta also can’t rely on Trump pardoning him should our democracy fail and Trump manages to become president again. He didn’t ensure his fellow January 6 perps were pardoned before he left office, for example. By now Nauta should know Trump is a chronic liar.

        It’s not even a Kobayashi Maru test because winning was refusing the illegal order to begin with even at the cost of Nauta’s job.

        • bidrec-gap says:

          An enlisted man can’t tell a senior officer that the senior officer’s order is illegal.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, they can. It may not end up well, but they can very much do that, and it very well may be their duty. Don’t blow things where they do not belong here.

  28. nord dakota says:

    I also wonder about the term “beautiful mind” boxes. Was this staffers’ code for organizing? What other labels?

    • Ravenclaw says:

      I can only come up with two reasonable possibilities. The less likely is that it’s some kind of auto-correct weirdness, like when “pileated woodpecker” becomes “polyester woodpecker” (happened just yesterday). The more likely is that it’s a nickname for Trump himself. He often refers to things he likes as “beautiful” and to himself as having a first-class mind. The nickname would suggest that staff members are aware that he is, at minimum, a bit loopy, and maybe stone-cold crazy, a la the well-known biography of John Nash and the associated film (in which he subscribes to various conspiracy theories and seeks meaning in hoarded papers).

    • MattyGMattyG says:

      On first reading I simply interpreted the Beautiful Mind box as containing sensitive material DT had telepathically declassified. But then again, pehaps the reference does allude to a curated collection of sublime moments the delicate and tender prince has left for posterity.

      • JohnPanzer says:

        I’ve been assuming (and seen others assume) this was a reference to

        “Bored with his regular duties at MIT, including teaching, he is recruited by the mysterious William Parcher of the United States Department of Defense with a classified assignment: to look for hidden patterns in magazines and newspapers to thwart a Soviet plot. Nash becomes increasingly obsessive in his search for these patterns, delivering his results to a secret mailbox, and comes to believe he is being followed.”

        • Ravenclaw says:

          To which one must add: Nash never was recruited by intelligence services. It was all an elaborate delusion. In Nash’s case, after many years of suffering and fighting “the system,” his powers of reason (and feedback he had received from a few therapists) persuaded him that he had, in fact, been delusional. In Trump’s case, such an outcome is extremely unlikely. He may not be truly delusional, but his grandiosity is massively defended (and supported by millions of followers), and his powers of reason are not especially strong.

        • PhoenixWomanMN says:

          I was wondering if the “Beautiful Mind” wording might be a reference to GHWB’s wife Barbara Bush, who used the wording in discussing why she tried not to think about American casualties in Iraq:

          I can envision the MaL staff asking Trump about the contents of the boxes and being told by him something along the lines of “Don’t you worry your beautiful mind about that”, which to me sounds like a variation “don’t you worry your pretty little head about it”, which was in wide enough use during Trump’s teens that Ray Conniff and Don Cherry had a hit record with that title:

          In other words, an emphatic command to stay away from something, cloaked in a seemingly lighthearted and dismissive manner?

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Clever! But I still lean John Nash. “Pretty little head” was used a lot, but “beautiful mind?” I’d forgotten that one dreadful use by Barbara Bush, but my little mind is pretty sure it hasn’t heard that exact phrase before – including growing up in the NYC area back in the day.

        • SEASanders says:

          I thought of the Barbara Bush use also, as a reference to the world view of one’s “beautiful mind” as a kind of manicured garden that one [being well-bred, educated, rich, white and powerful] could have staff attend to to remove all unsightly objects so there could be rainbows and unicorns every day.
          Trump has shown a propensity to create such “beautiful mind” pieces (often with many big men, manly strong men, with tears in their eyes, saying, “Sir, . . .). I imagine he felt certain he was every bit as entitled as those uppity Bushes to have a beautiful mind (= the world as I want to see it), and happy to posses such incredible souvenirs of all those times he was the hero of the story, and just guessing here, but not one page of serious criticism is in those boxes, unless he somehow thought he was getting away with the only damaging document by keeping it himself. I’m not sure he would ever sense the least bit of irony if his (smartest/most loyal) staff often referred to his beautiful mind, or beautiful mind papers.

          And then, when he tired of the papers, or if he got an offer he couldn’t refuse, he does fundamentally seem to consider himself a “businessman.”

  29. soundgood2 says:

    Couldn’t the overturned box in the storage unit indicate that someone had gone through boxes in a hurry? Perhaps someone visiting Mar a Lago?

    • nord dakota says:

      I thought it looked like it had fallen from somewhere. Stacks of boxes aren’t particularly stable and if there are different types of boxes or some dented here and there, that could easily happen in a crowded storage room. In some other photos the stacking (looking at the far left in the stacks by the toilet for example) is not what you’d do if you were careful. OTOH–lots of possibilities, someone reached and it fell and spilled out and they had to leave in a hurry because they heard something. Also a suit or some garment (with the plastic bag protector) has also in a heap on the floor.

    • pdaly says:

      It would be a less plausible scenario had Mar-a-Lago in 2021 not been failing to properly secure the stolen/illegally retained government documents.

      Rayne addressed the minimum requirements for securing and monitoring classified documents back in September 2022.

      “Which is why 32 § 2001.43 Storage specifies

      — Continuous protection by cleared guard or duty personnel;
      — Inspection of the security container every two hours by cleared guard or duty personnel;
      — Intrusion Detection System (IDS) with the personnel responding to the alarm arriving within 15 minutes of the alarm annunciation.

      A FF-L-2740 spec lock like this one will be tough to crack, tougher to smash around, but the continuous monitoring and regular intrusion detection is the failover.”

    • Drew in Bronx says:

      As a librarian who’s been through multiple moves of boxes of papers & books on a large scale, I don’t really think there is much way to tell why boxes fell. Boxes that aren’t uniformly packed can collapse under the weight of boxes above them-either quickly or over a long space of time; careless stacking can lead to them tipping over; people rifling through them can make it happen; even trucks driving by out on the street can cause enough vibration to knock things down.

      These things do happen more frequently when done by amateurs who are inattentive or in a hurry. But I’d count on other evidence to figure out what was going on here.

    • Vicks says:

      I’d love to know if any ofour adversaries have a “representative” working as a housekeeper or pool boy at MRL?

  30. morganism says:

    Does the inclusion of the female Trump family member a threat that if they don’t allow a “voluntary”
    search of Bedminster, that they are going to pull that family member into a new indictment in NJ?

    • quickbread says:

      The more times I read that text exchange the more convinced I am that it can only be Melania. There are misused or missing articles in three places, not just the one which I noted in an earlier comment. And the text says the plane will be “full with luggage.” A native English speaker would always choose the preposition “of.” But a Slavic speaker would naturally choose “with” here because “of” is primarily reserved for genitive case. Whoever it is sounds more like an unwilling party to the documents fiasco than a co-conspirator. And if it’s Melania, she can’t be forced to testify against her husband, right?

      • Ravenclaw says:

        Yes, yes, and yes. It is most likely Melania (who else?). There is no compelling reason to believe she knew much about the documents. (I can just picture her going on to an acquaintance about how her husband “keeps all these awful boxes everywhere full of lord knows what.”) And even if she did, she can’t (as far as I know) be compelled to testify.

        I must admit, I’m getting tired of the Bedminster buzz. If something goes down there, great. But the indictments in place are enough to dish the man if a conviction is obtained.

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