The “Piles” of Chris Kise Bullshit Devlin Barrett Claims to Believe

According to this piece, Devlin Barrett (this time, with Perry Stein) claims to believe a bunch of Chris Kise bullshit that has already been debunked in court filings.

One key issue is how much time Trump and his legal team get to review the piles of secret evidence in the case. Trump’s lawyers have accused the government of being too slow to provide access to the full catalogue of classified papers, and insist they need more time to prepare.

It’s true that Trump has claimed that. It’s true that Trump insists they need more time. But these claims were largely manufactured, which was readily apparent if you read the court filings closely.

Over the last five weeks, Trump’s lawyers have made a series of claims about classified production to support a bid to delay the stolen document trial until after the election.

Some of those were real: In particular, the Court Information Security Officer had to keep juggling a number of the documents Trump stole because they were so sensitive.

The first set probably involved the single charged and some number of uncharged nuclear documents, which defense attorneys were not yet cleared to access (the CISO basically removed them from the defense SCIF so the attorneys would be cleared to read everything that was left in there).

The second set — of first four and then another five — of the charged documents are Special Measures documents (those with additional compartments). Those could not be stored in the existing SCIFs in Miami without additional measures put in place. They were available in DC, and have now been made available in Miami. Altogether, it appears those Special Measures documents are around 44 pages in length. The defense team still needs a laptop equipped to write about them, the only apparent remaining delay in classified materials outstanding.

Those exchanges (most clearly laid out here) have revealed that, save for some classified FBI Agent emails that DOJ will provide closer to trial as Jencks production and some documents DOJ wants to provide with substitutions under CIPA 4 that this fight is holding up, this is the current universe of classified discovery in the case.

At less than 5,500 pages, it could hardly be called a “pile,” as Devlin did, unless you were referring to the horse manure that Kise was spreading.

Many of the claims that Chris Kise made were transparent bullshit. The most important one — because it appears to have fooled Aileen Cannon — is that the reason why a bunch of classified documents weren’t available in Miami (some were available in DC, where a number of Trump’s lawyers are) is because the defense attorneys weren’t in Miami to read them, something they delayed doing during several competing filings in this dispute. A CISO can’t just drop off nuclear documents in an unattended SCIF, but the guy who left the same document in his beach resort may not understand that.

It’s possible the defense put off going to Miami because the Special Measures documents were not yet there.

What’s clear, however, is that Trump’s team waited 11 days before reviewing documents that were ready for their viewing once they showed up to review them, then blamed DOJ because they waited.

A still more amusing complaint is that DOJ provided a disk with the items in a box of White House schedules that a Trump aide had scanned and then downloaded onto her computer, which because of duplicates amounted to 13,584 pages, of which just 15 pages were classified. DOJ had tried to provide all the unclassified pages in June, but Trump asked DOJ to hold off. That requested delay is one of the reasons Trump claims he can’t stand trial before the election.

Trump also spent weeks of October complaining that DOJ had provided 1,400 pages of Jencks materials (statements related to the case from people who’ll be witnesses at trial) in October, rather than the weeks before trial, when it is due.

Kise also complained he couldn’t review the classified discovery because he had to be in Trump’s 3-month fraud trial in New York, something that was known when Judge Cannon set the schedule.

As the government notes, Aileen Cannon’ schedule only had one deadline, for the initial production of classified documents, and the only delay in meeting that deadline came from Judge Cannon’s own dawdling over the protective order.

The Scheduling Order set September 7 as the deadline for the Government’s first production of classified discovery. The Government delivered certain classified discovery to the defense SCIF before then, but it was not available to the defense until September 13, after the Court entered the CIPA Section 3 protective orders, ECF Nos. 150-152.

Below I’ve put the series of claims Trump has made with DOJ’s debunking.


On October 17, 2023, the Special Counsel’s Office caused approximately 2,487 pages of documents and four discs to be delivered to President Trump’s counsel, for the first time, at a secure facility in this District.


As the Government explained in a recent filing, ECF No. 187 at 5-6, it informed the defense on October 6 that the production had been provided to the Classified Information Security Officer (CISO) and inquired the next day when the defense would resume its review of classified discovery in the defense SCIF, so the Government could arrange for it to be delivered there. Defense counsel waited 11 days, from October 6 until October 17, to receive the materials in the defense SCIF.


[T]he Office’s October 6, 2023 production of approximately 2,400 pages of additional classified discovery is still not available for review in this District.

Debunking, One:

As the Government explained in a recent filing, ECF No. 187 at 5-6, it informed the defense on October 6 that the production had been provided to the Classified Information Security Officer (CISO) and inquired the next day when the defense would resume its review of classified discovery in the defense SCIF, so the Government could arrange for it to be delivered there. Defense counsel waited 11 days, from October 6 until October 17, to receive the materials in the defense SCIF.

Debunking, Two:

As in all federal criminal cases involving classified discovery, to ensure confidentiality for the defense, the Government does not have access to the defense SCIF. To deliver classified discovery to the defense SCIF requires the presence of either the CISO or appropriately cleared members of the defense team.


A recent, untimely production nearly doubled the volume of classified discovery, and the Office has not explained why those materials were withheld from prior productions.


[T]he Special Counsel’s Office recently made available a classified production consisting of approximately 2,400 pages and four discs.


[T]he Office still has not explained the timing of its October 6, 2023 production of thousands of pages of additional classified discovery, which is greatly in excess of what the Office estimated to the Court as recently as September 12, 2023.


[T]he largest set of documents in the most recent classified production—a set of about 1,400 pages of emails described in defendant Trump’s classified supplement—consists mostly of Jencks material, which this Court has indicated is not due until closer to trial.


Mr. Kise has not yet been cleared fully to review all the CIPA materials and is currently representing President Trump in a trial in New York which is expected to conclude by December 22, 2023, well after expiration of many current deadlines as well as the hearing dates this Court has established. See People v. Trump, et. al, Index No. 452564/2022 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2022). He has therefore had no opportunity to review any of the CIPA materials or to participate in the preparation of the defense. President Trump should not be denied the assistance of core counsel in a matter of this significance due to the Government’s delayed discovery process.


Mr. Kise received an interim security clearance in late July, which authorized him to review about 2,100 pages of classified discovery the moment they were produced on September 13–the same day the protective orders issued. ECF Nos. 150, 151, 152. These materials included 16 of 31 charged documents and about 600 pages of classified interview transcripts, among other materials. So, although it is true that as of their filing Mr. Kise had not been “cleared fully,” it is inaccurate to suggest that that fact at all explains his failure to review “any of the CIPA materials.” This leaves only one of the proffered explanations for Mr. Kise’s alleged inability to review “any of the CIPA materials” as the possibly accurate one—Mr. Kise’s competing obligations in the New York trial. But those obligations were aired at the July 18 scheduling hearing, July 18 Tr. at 35, 43, and the Court has already taken them into account in setting trial in May.


[T]the Office omits from its “supplemental response” that the four discs contained more than three gigabytes of data relating to six facilities, approximately 13,584 additional pages.


[A]ll but 15 pages of this 13,584-page set of materials had already been produced in unclassified discovery; and the reason the entire set of materials—including the previously produced unclassified pages—was provided together in classified discovery is that the defense asked that it be done that way. The 13,584 pages consist of multiple copies of documents from a box of scheduling materials from Trump’s presidency stored at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere in West Palm Beach. During the investigation of this case, the Government obtained duplicate copies of the box’s contents—including from the box itself, as well as from a laptop and a cloud storage account to which an aide to defendant Trump had scanned copies—totaling the 13,584 pages, only 4,242 of which are unique. Fifteen of the pages were classified. On June 21, the Government produced to defendant Trump the unclassified digitized contents of the box, containing all but the 15 classified pages of the total of 4,242 unique pages. During a meet-and-confer on September 20, the defense indicated that rather than receiving productions of only the classified pages extracted from electronic devices, separated from the digitized unclassified material already provided in unclassified discovery, they wanted to receive any classified pages from electronic media together with surrounding contents so that it could ascertain where the pages had been stored.

Claim [classified supplement]:

The special measures documents could not be discussed in the defense SCIF when counsel resumed review of materials there on October 17 and 18.


[A]n equipment failure deactivated a security measure that prevented discussion of the special measures documents in Defense SCIF 1 (but review could still occur), and that the following day, October 18, counsel moved one block over to Defense SCIF 2, which was authorized for both review and discussion of all the classified discovery and to which the special measures documents were re-delivered.

40 replies
  1. John Paul Jones says:

    Barrett seems to think that when a source tells him something, all he need do is print it, so long as he has “corroboration” from a second source. He never seems to pause and ask himself why the source is telling him something, or to check with sources that might disagree. It’s kind of a sophmoric approach, the lazy man’s journalism. And of course, if it isn’t either of those two, then it’s simply malign, i.e., propaganda.

    • BobBobCon says:

      There’s a deeply rotten belief in the DC press corps that seems to be growing. It’s that the “fact” that someone said something is somehow equivalent to an actual fact.

      I think most political reporters, when pressed, will acknowledge that the “fact” that Trump called Mexicans murderers and rapists is not actually the same as the reality that Mexican Americans are just as law abiding as Americans as a whole.

      But you can watch many members of the political press slither and squirm as they try to rationalize why they’re prioritizing the weaker category of “facts” over the stronger category. It’s creepy, lazy, and dumb, but that’s who they have become — they can’t even explain how their reporting sheds any new light on what the GOP says.

    • Rethfernhim says:

      It’s also a matter of rewards: journalists write what their editors print, and their careers develop according to how many of those stories are chosen for the front page. Taking the time to research and write something more complete and nuanced would happen if the output was desired by the people paying for it.

      It’s likely that the push for clickbait changes the dynamics, but at WaPo and NYT, the old guard still determines what makes for a successful journalistic career. If those papers wanted critical journalism, they’d get it.

      • RipNoLonger says:

        Exactly. You gotta write what will be accepted and printed in that short time-frame. Still it must suck to be a reporter who just regurgitates what someone on the street said (with possible second person on the street corroboration.)

  2. johno808 says:

    Why does the defense get to review classified docs? To see if they are really classified? How tf would they know? They are marked classified – if the defense disputes that seems like the issuing entity can verify. Walt Nauta too? wtf

    • P J Evans says:

      AIUI the trial isn’t about the contents of the docs, but about his possession of them and his obstruction by refusing to return them when asked.

    • bmaz says:

      Because a criminal defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine both witnesses and evidence against them. And the defense will have cleared attorneys and quite possibly experts too. It can get complicated but can be done, there is a process.

      • BobBobCon says:

        Yes, and there have been enough cases of classification abuse over many years that defendants need the ability to poke at the details of their cases.

        In the end, holding the Jack Smith team to a high standard means they are better off in the long run when this happens.

    • emptywheel says:

      1) This is the primary evidence in 32 charges against Trump. He needs to see the evidence.

      2) A key part of any 793 trial is proving the docs were “National Defense Information,” which is different than “classified.” Prosecutors need to prove something relates to National Defense Information and was closely held. Trump has said he’ll challenge the latter point on some or all of these docs (and why not? Trump stole them and it took a year for the spooks to realize!). Several of the docs charged against Trump aren’t even marked as classified.

      • dopefish says:

        Its hard to remember after all this time, but I don’t think it actually took them a year to notice things were missing?

        This timeline at says NARA first notified Trump’s lawyers that “some two dozen boxes of original records were not turned over” in May 2021 (i.e. probably less than four months after Trump ceased to be President on January 20, 2021).

        It took until Mid-January 2022 for team Trump to turn over any of the missing records; by my count thats more than 6 months that team Trump managed to stall them? On Feb 7, 2022 NARA released a public statement stating that 15 boxes containing Presidential records had been transferred from Mar-a-Lago and basically admonishing the Trump administration for not diligently following Presidential Records Act. The next day they issued a clarification that they did not visit or “raid” the Mar-a-Lago property. (lol)

        Also, recall that the indictment alleges that in July 2021 at his Bedminster club, Trump showed that classified “plan of attack” document to “a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff” who didn’t have the required security clearances. And that in “August or September 2021” he showed a representative of his PAC “a classified map related to a military operation and told the representative that he should not be showing it to the representative and that the representative should not get too close”. So those events happened months after NARA had begun asking Trump’s lawyers to return any missing documents, but (unless I’ve missed something) before any documents had been returned.

        It did seemingly take more than a year for the government to realize Trump was not going to willingly return the documents, that some of them might be extremely sensitive, and to get their ducks in a row to recover them. After getting their search warrant, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022 and seized 13 “boxes or containers” with documents marked classified.

        Among the seized materials were 48 empty folders labeled as “classified”. Whether any actual material is missing is not clear to us onlookers (it seems at least possible that all pages from those folders might have ended up elsewhere in the boxes that were seized) but the breathtaking carelessness with which Trump treated some of the classified documents that he had access to has been documented.

      • dopefish says:

        “Several of the docs charged against Trump aren’t even marked as classified.”

        I just had a look at Counts 1-31 inthe original indictment (pages 28-33) and 30 of those 31 documents are described as classified either SECRET or TOP SECRET.

        Its true that one document, #11 is listed as having “No marking”, though its description is “Undated document concerning military contingency planning of the United States” and I imagine they wouldn’t have charged it if it weren’t a slam-dunk example of “Willful Retention of National Defense Information”. After all, pages from dozens or hundreds of other classified documents were seized by the FBI in their Mar-a-Lago raid. Many of those could be less sensitive (there is a “Confidential” category below “Secret”, for example.) I think its possible there were even seized documents that were more sensitive than some of the ones Trump was charged over–there’s many reasons why SCO might choose not to bring a charge for a specific document, and 30 classified documents seems like enough for them to make their point. Hypothetically, document #11 may even have been charged specifically because it wasn’t classified but could be easily proved in court to fall under “National Defense Information”. (I’m just guessing though)

  3. David F. Snyder says:

    I remember when Stein replaced Leonnig on this beat — I’m not sure why it happened, but putting a newbie to report on these critical cases instead of the seasoned veteran? Why?? So Stein is naive and that comes across. But a Pulitzer winner like Barrett has no excuse for this shit. I wish the editors would wake up and hold him to a standard, instead of parroting Trump’s propaganda and only in the last few paragraphs (if then) spilling the facts instead of the party line.

    But then, hey, what institutions aren’t at least partially corrupted (by corporate influence) in America these days?

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      Wikipedia and Consumers Union. I can’t think of any other uncorrupted institutions offhand.

      • Former AFPD says:

        Pardon me, Ebenezer. Wikipedia is not a credible or reliable or “uncorrupted” source. Anyone can write anything there. I’ve had first hand experience with the people who enter edits there. It is not a reliable resource.

        • ColdFusion says:

          Yes, an open encyclopedia can have incorrect information. That does not make the organization as a whole a “corrupted institution.” The far vast majority of information is accurate, I’d wager. Bad actors can be found anywhere and Wikipedia seems to manage undoing the edits of most of them.

        • Former AFPD says:

          Cold Fusion, Unfortunately, I have first hand experience with wikipedia which showed me that it is completely unreliable. The “editors” turned a blind eye to false information, and did not delete or correct it. As far as I am concerned, it is not credible.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Relying on personal anecdotal information is something an uncorrupted institution might work hard to avoid, as is painting with too broad a brush.

          Wikipedia is often a good place to start, but like any introductory material, it is limited and sometimes unreliable. It does provides a summary, key words, dates, names, concepts, etc., that should be used to look deeper into an idea.

        • ExRacerX says:

          At any given moment in real time, there is a risk of getting erroneous information from Wikipedia. When I was teaching English, I wouldn’t allow students to cite pages from the platform.

          I told them it was okay to use it as a starting point for their research, but to corroborate with another source before using any “fact” from Wikipedia—and then cite the other source.

          Of course, the lazy ones just used the citations at the bottom of the Wikipedia pages, but hey, I gave it my best shot.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    Chris Kise is not a rainmaker.
    He is a bull shit lawyer, looking for the Great White Whale.
    He is a clumsy lawyer yet measures high on the Q Score for our celebrity Ahab.

  5. iamevets says:

    Apparently trying to post this article to the comments section of WAPO violates their posting policies. That is weak and absurd. WAPO not interested in anything that clearly contradicts contrary view?

    Maybe i’m slow to catch on (and the education I receive at emptywheel makes catching on possible), but I pay money to WAPO and not NY Times because I thought they were more accurate in their coverage, and less into the pitfalls of access journalism. Have i been wrong about that?

    What is the best national news source these days? Marcy, bmaz, rayne, walker, etc.. can’t cover everything.

    • Purple Martin says:

      I’ve posted numerous comments citing Emptywheel articles to WaPo, often including extracts of specific EW content (always keeping in mind Fair Use restrictions, Rayne!) with a link.

      In thousands of comments over the years (the latest, this morning), I’ve never run into a restriction based solely on contrary views. Per their comments FAQ:

      I posted a comment and it was removed. Why? First, take a moment to review the rules above. Most comments are removed from discussions on The Post because the posts attack or insult other readers rather than discuss the issues at hand. This can include replies to comments that break our guidelines.

      A link to the “guidelines” mentioned is just above the comment box. What, specifically, makes you think your comment was removed based on “contrary views” and not on their posted guidelines?

      • Rayne says:

        I suggest posting not a link but the title of Marcy’s post and let the commenters at WaPo do their own search for it. It’s possible WaPo could have ramped up security and active links could be suppressed to prevent phishing of readers.

        If an excerpt without an active link is being held in moderation, WaPo may have instituted AI to read entries and may now be knocking down anything they fear violates copyright. Again, I’d simply share the article title and summarize in original language the point made in the article.

        If it’s still not getting through… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  6. dopefish says:

    emptywheel wrote:

    A still more amusing complaint is that DOJ provided a disk with the items in a box of White House schedules that a Trump aide had scanned and then downloaded onto her computer, which because of duplicates amounted to 13,584 pages, of which just 15 pages were classified. DOJ had tried to provide all the unclassified pages in June, but Trump asked DOJ to hold off.

    I had thought from reading the govt’s filing that they did provide all the unclassified pages in June? They then provided them again in classified discovery (along with the additional 15 actually-classified pages) because Trump’s team had requested that. Absent that request, I suppose they would have provided just the 15 classified pages and Trump’s team would have had one fewer excuses to complain.

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