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Right Wing Propaganda Fail: Julie Kelly’s Troubles with Ten and Two

As I laid out in this post, Julie Kelly is an important right wing propagandist who has ginned up quite a lot of attention from accused fraudsters for her willingness to lie about Jan6ers and Donald Trump. Her propaganda may have given Aileen Cannon cover to delay trial for Trump’s alleged unlawful retention of National Defense Information, including a nuclear document.

I say she’s a propagandist willing to lie based on an extended discussion we had in 2021 about January 6ers charged with assaulting cops (at a minimum, 18 USC 111(a)). She reviewed my (incomplete) list, challenged a number of people on it — for example, people who had been charged with 18 USC 111 via complaint but charged with something else, like 18 USC 231, upon indictment. There were 112 people on the list. Nevertheless, Julie never retracted her false claim — a foundational one in Jan6 hagiography — that fewer than 100 Jan6ers had been charged with assaulting cops. Having been presented with proof she was wrong, she simply continued to tell the same lie, downplaying the alleged (and since then, adjudicated) violence of the Jan6ers she was claiming were peaceful protestors.

Because trolls keep pointing to her latest work, in which she accused the FBI of doctoring the initial photo released from the Mar-a-Lago search, I wanted to point out how Julie continues to struggle with numbers, this time the difference between ten and two, and as a result has badly deceived all those poor trolls.

She claims that Jay Bratt lied in his description of what the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago, in which he referred to the famous photo from the search, which Bratt specifically described as a photo of documents and classified cover sheets found in a container seized in Trump’s office.

Jay Bratt, who was the lead DOJ prosecutor on the investigation at the time and now is assigned to Smith’s team, described the photo this way in his August 30, 2022 response to Trump’s special master lawsuit:

“[Thirteen] boxes or containers contained documents with classification markings, and in all, over one hundred unique documents with classification markings…were seized. Certain of the documents had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status. (Emphasis added.) See, e.g., Attachment F (redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the ‘45 office’).”

The DOJ’s clever wordsmithing, however, did not accurately describe the origin of the cover sheets. In what must be considered not only an act of doctoring evidence but willfully misleading the American people into believing the former president is a criminal and threat to national security, agents involved in the raid attached the cover sheets to at least seven files to stage the photo.

Classified cover sheets were not “recovered” in the container, contrary to Bratt’s declaration to the court. In fact, after being busted recently by defense attorneys for mishandling evidence in the case, Bratt had to fess up about how the cover sheets actually ended up on the documents.

Here is Bratt’s new version of the story, where he finally admits a critical detail that he failed to disclose in his August 2022 filing:

“[If] the investigative team found a document with classification markings, it removed the document, segregated it, and replaced it with a placeholder sheet. The investigative team used classified cover sheets for that purpose.”

But before the official cover sheets were used as placeholder, agents apparently used them as props. FBI agents took it upon themselves to paperclip the sheets to documents—something evident given the uniform nature of how each cover sheet is clipped to each file in the photo—laid them on the floor, and snapped a picture for political posterity. [Italics Julie’s, bold emphasis mine]

Julie’s passage starts by quoting from Bratt’s description of the photo in his August 2022 declaration. The contents of the container in question are clearly identified in the picture as 2A — that is, the contents of box 2. In his declaration, Bratt specifically identifies that the box was recovered in the office. Until DOJ learned of the box of presidential schedules Chamberlain Harris had under her desk in various places, that was the only box known to be seized from the office (though some albums and loose documents were found as well).

Then, Julie nods to, but does not cite, Stan Woodward’s description of the appearance of slip sheets in boxes of unclassified documents when she describes Bratt as, “being busted recently by defense attorneys.” I quoted Woodward’s filing at length here.

She then quotes from Jay Bratt’s description of something other than that photo: of how, as the FBI searched individual boxes, the FBI inserted a replacement — sometimes a classified cover sheet, but after they ran out of those, a handwritten piece of paper — when it pulled the classified documents from the boxes. Here’s more of what Bratt said.

The filter team took care to ensure that no documents were moved from one box to another, but it was not focused on maintaining the sequence of documents within each box. If a box contained potentially privileged material and fell within the scope of the search warrant, the filter team seized the box for later closer review. If a box did not contain potentially privileged documents, the filter team provided the box to the investigative team for on-site review, and if the investigative team found a document with classification markings, it removed the document, segregated it, and replaced it with a placeholder sheet. The investigative team used classified cover sheets for that purpose, until the FBI ran out because there were so many classified documents, at which point the team began using blank sheets with handwritten notes indicating the classification level of the document(s) seized. The investigative team seized any box that was found to contain documents with classification markings or presidential records.

So Julie relies on (1) a description of a photo of the documents with classification markings removed from box 2 on August 8, 2022, (2) Woodward’s description of what boxes from which documents with classification markings have been removed currently look like, and then (3) Bratt’s description of the search process used in August 2022. From that, she declares that Bratt’s description of some contents of a single box doesn’t match his description of a process used to search boxes and therefore the evidence in the picture must have been doctored.

Already, poor Julie has a problem. First, Bratt’s descriptions are of different things. The August 2022 declaration describes what they found at Mar-a-Lago after pulling documents with classification markings from boxes. The recent response describes what the FBI did when pulling documents with classification markings from boxes.

Woodward, too, describes something different than what Bratt described in August 2022. In the filing that Julie doesn’t cite, Woodward describes what boxes from which documents with classification markings have already been removed currently look like. Again, there is a difference between what remains in boxes versus what got pulled from boxes.

Plus, Bratt’s description is consistent with the picture; Julie’s is not.

Bratt said that a subset of the documents did have cover-sheets — the bit that she italicizes. Julie simply asserts, as fact, that the FBI attached the seven cover sheets that appear in the picture (but for what she imagines is a doctored photo, did not attach cover sheets to the other documents in the picture). To match Bratt’s later description, all the documents with classification markings in the picture would have cover sheets, which also would have made a more damning photo. Julie doesn’t consider the possibility that the seven or so cover sheets in the picture which she describes to be attached to documents were among those documents that Bratt described that did have cover sheets. She doesn’t puzzle through why, if the FBI were trying to make things look as bad as possible, they didn’t put cover sheets on everything.

And to reiterate, this picture does not depict what Julie thinks she’s describing at all; what she’s describing is what got left after the classified documents were segregated from ones without classification markings. What the picture shows on the floor is only documents with classification markings.

It gets worse.

Poor Julie the propagandist states as fact that, “Classified cover sheets were not ‘recovered’ in the container.”

As I noted here, Stan Woodward bases his description of the troubling box with documents out of place as item 10. He describes, “Box A-15 is a box seized from the Storage Room and is identified by the FBI as Item 10.”

The inventory certified as part of the Special Master process back in September 2022 describes item 10 (identified as box A-15 in the warrant return) this way:

It is, as I noted, the box with the biggest number of classified documents in it, but they were classified at a lower level — Confidential and Secret.

The inventory describes nothing about cover sheets.

But that’s not the box in the picture!! That’s not the box Jay Bratt described back in August 2022!

The box in the picture is box 2, a leatherbound box found in the office.

Here’s how the uncontested description from the Special Master inventory describes that box, the one that Jay Bratt was actually talking about. [my red annotation]

The inventory describes that, in addition to 24 classified documents — 7 of them Top Secret, of which just five are reflected in cover sheets in the picture — there were also 43 empty classified folders.

And yet poor Julie states as fact that, “Classified cover sheets were not “recovered” in the container.” While folders and these cover sheets are different things, they serve to cover classified documents. There were 43 empty classified folders in box 2.

Remember: Tim Parlatore admitted that Trump retained at least one classified cover folder when he was trying to explain why his search team found one marked “Classified Evening Summary” in Trump’s bedroom. Is Julie calling Parlatore a liar now too?

In any case, Julie is talking about an entirely different box, one that the inventory doesn’t record as having any classified cover sheets in it. Based on a claim that item 10 (box A-15) didn’t have cover sheets, Julie stated as fact that item 2 didn’t either.

She simply made it up.

Based on the uncontested inventory, the FBI could have made that picture far more damning than they did, had they paper clipped cover sheets to “each” document with classification marks, as Julie claims they did. They could have put cover sheets on two more Top Secret documents for the picture and added cover sheets on up to 12 more Secret documents. They could have stacked up those 43 empty folders that once had documents in them, but no longer did on August 8, 2022. Instead, they took a picture showing that some of those documents had cover sheets and some did not, which (accurate or not) is precisely what Bratt described, apparently leaving out the 43 damning empty folders altogether.

Poor Julie took a description of a box found in the storage closet, treated it as a description of a box found somewhere else, and then simply never bothered to check what that box — the box Jay Bratt was actually referring to — actually contained.

Julie the propagandist suggests that if the picture were accurate — if there really were seven documents that still had cover sheets in the box that Jay Bratt was actually describing — then it would accurately support an argument that, “the former president is a criminal and threat to national security.” And wow, that may be a problem, conceding that that picture supported an argument that Trump was a national security threat! Because nothing Julie claims in her post describes this box. And her claims that the FBI made this picture as damning as possible is debunked when you look at the actual contents of the box (or even, the picture itself).

So instead, she described something entirely different — something entirely unrelated to the box contents in this picture — and claimed the FBI, and not Julie the propagandist herself, was engaged in deception.

Update: Julie now says that in spite of all the proof she got caught lying, she must still be right because the paperclips in the picture are tidy.

Stan Woodward’s Manufactured Scandal about Box A-15

As I have noted, the FBI agents who searched Joe Biden’s garage rearranged the contents of the single box which Robert Hur attempted to prove Joe Biden had deliberately curated when they moved the contents from the beat-up box found in the garage to a new one.

When FBI agents repackaged the contents of the ripped garage box into a new box on December 21, 2022, it appears the order of a few of the materials changed slightly. This chapter discusses in detail below two folders that contained marked classified documents about Afghanistan: the manila “Afganastan” folder and the red “Facts First” folder. It appears the “Afganastan” folder was near the “Facts First” folder in the garage box when agents recovered the box, but the precise original location of the “Afganastan” folder at that time is unknown.

Had Hur been able to prove that the contents of this box had been in Biden’s Virginia home when he mentioned classified records to his ghost writer in 2017, and had Hur been able to disprove that that reference wasn’t to other documents Biden had recently returned to the White House or to the letter Biden sent Obama about Afghanistan, and had Hur been able to rule out Biden simply losing track of those files, and had Hur been able to prove that Biden himself and not staffers had been packing and repacking the box, then the order of the box would have been crucial to proving a case against Biden.

Hur hung much of his theory of willful retention on the other documents found with two folders containing classified Afghan documents.

Which is to say, the FBI’s sloppiness would have doomed the case if there were ever a case to bring.

Now, Walt Nauta attorney Stan Woodward is trying to claim the same with regards to the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, to great effect among right wing propagandists.

He made the claim in a bid to get a delay in filing his CIPA 5 notices (which describe what classified information he’d need to release at trial).

Following defense counsel’s review of the physical boxes, the unclassified scans of the contents of the boxes, and the documents produced in classified discovery, defense counsel has learned that the cross-reference provided by the Special Counsel’s Office does not contain accurate information. For example, Box A-15 is a box seized from the Storage Room and is identified by the FBI as Item 10. The FBI Index indicates that the classified documents removed from the box (and where a cover sheet was inserted in its place) appear in the order listed below. The contents of the unclassified discovery pertaining to Box A-15 begins at USA-00340924, with the first inserted at the second page of the scan, or Bates labeled USA-00340925:

Per the FBI Index, the first purportedly classified document removed from box A-15 was assigned FBI Index code “ccc,” its classified bates begins at 0079, is one page, and bears the classification marking of “CONFIDENTIAL.” For reference, the physical cover sheet from the actual box for document “ccc” appears as depicted in the below image:

To state the obvious, a “Secret” document is not the same as a “Confidential” document. To be sure, a slip sheet in in Box A-15 does match the one scanned as part of unclassified discovery (at USA-00340925):

However, there is no way for defense counsel to know that the slip sheet depicted above actually corresponds with USA-00340925. And the slipsheet labeled “ccc” does not appear for several hundreds of pages later than the FBI Index indicated it would. Defense counsel’s review of these materials calls into question the likelihood that the contents of the physical boxes remains the same as when they were seized by the FBI on August 8, 2022.

Although the Special Counsel’s Office has indicated it will work with defense counsel to accurately produce an index cross-referencing the purported documents with classification markings produced in classified discovery as against the slip sheets now in the physical boxes, that process will take time. Until that process is complete, however, defense counsel cannot know for certain which documents produced in classified discovery were recovered from boxes in the Storage Room nor where those documents were found in the boxes. Accordingly, defense counsel cannot meaningfully identify, pursuant to CIPA § 5(a), the classified information it anticipates being disclosed at trial.

Jack Smith claims this is all a delay tactic invented because Woodward’s other recent delay tactics fell through.

But he concedes, first of all, that after the search team ran out of cover sheets because there were far more classified documents than they imagined, they used hand-written papers to mark where classified records had been found.

The investigative team used classified cover sheets for that purpose, until the FBI ran out because there were so many classified documents, at which point the team began using blank sheets with handwritten notes indicating the classification level of the document(s) seized. The investigative team seized any box that was found to contain documents with classification markings or presidential records.

And then they made sure that each box was handled separately, to ensure that the contents of each individual box remained separate. They failed, however, to keep all the boxes in the same order.

The Government has taken steps to ensure that documents and placeholders remained within the same box as when they were seized, i.e., to prevent any movement of documents from one box to another. The FBI was present when an outside vendor scanned the documents in connection with the now-closed civil case (see, e.g., Trump v. United States, Case No. 22-81294- CIV-CANNON, ECF No. 91 at 2 (requiring the Government to inventory the property seized from Mar-a-Lago); id. at ECF No. 125 at 3 (requiring the Government to “make available to Plaintiff and the Special Master copies of all Seized Materials” in electronic format by October 13, 2022)), and the boxes were kept separate during that process. When the FBI created the inventories, each inventory team worked on a single box at a time, separated from other teams. And during defense counsel’s review, any boxes open at the same time (and any personnel reviewing those boxes) were kept separate from one another. In other words, there is a clear record of which boxes contained classified documents when seized, and this information has long been in the defense’s possession, as discussed infra at 9

4. Location of Classified Documents Within Each Box

Since the boxes were seized and stored, appropriate personnel have had access to the boxes for several reasons, including to comply with orders issued by this Court in the civil proceedings noted above, for investigative purposes, and to facilitate the defendants’ review of the boxes. The inventories and scans created during the civil proceedings were later produced in discovery in this criminal case. Because these inventories and scans were created close in time to the seizure of the documents, they are the best evidence available of the order the documents were in when seized. That said, there are some boxes where the order of items within that box is not the same as in the associated scans.3 There are several possible explanations, including the above-described instances in which the boxes were accessed, as well as the size and shape of certain items in the boxes possibly leading to movement of items. For example, the boxes contain items smaller than standard paper such as index cards, books, and stationary, which shift easily when the boxes are carried, especially because many of the boxes are not full. Regardless of the explanation, as discussed below, where precisely within a box a classified document was stored at Mar-a-Lago does not bear in any way on Nauta’s ability to file a CIPA Section 5 notice.

3 The Government acknowledges that this is inconsistent with what Government counsel previously understood and represented to the Court. See, e.g., 4/12/24 Hearing Tr. at 65 (Government responding to the Court’s question of whether the boxes were “in their original, intact form as seized” by stating “[t]hey are, with one exception; and that is that the classified documents have been removed and placeholders have been put in the documents”).

While I think it ridiculous that the FBI hasn’t managed to keep boxes straight from either Trump or Biden, Smith’s argument — that this is entirely pointless to Nauta’s defense — should be sufficient. Unlike Biden and Trump, Nauta is not alleged to have curated any boxes. He is not accused of willfully retaining classified documents at all.

So the order of documents within the particular boxes is meaningless to his defense (though Trump, who has asked to file a sur-reply piling on, might make great use of this argument if this ever goes to trial).

Plus, it’s worth noting which box Woodward is focused on, A-15. That box happens to have, easily, the biggest number of classified documents in it, 32; a third of the items originally in the box were marked classified. And probably 11 of them, those marked Confidential, have since been declassified and provided in unclassified discovery.

In total, the FBI seized 77 documents with classification markings from the 12 boxes that were seized from the Storage Room, but of those 77 documents, 26 have now been produced in unclassified discovery.

No documents already declassified would be pertinent to a CIPA filing.

In other words, Woodward has selected a box that includes both official and handwritten slip sheets, had no Top Secret documents, but a lot of less classified documents.

Something (he knows from his Jan 6 crime scene cases) a shameless propagandist will wail about.

But not something substantive to Nauta’s case.

Trump’s Attorney-Client Leak Privilege

Pursuant to Judge Cannon’s order, her clerk has finally unsealed the substance of a complaint from Stan Woodward floated last summer: That, in a August 24, 2022 meeting, Jay Bratt insinuated that if Walt Nauta didn’t cooperate against Trump, then he’d lose his opportunity to be a Superior Court Judge. Here’s the letter presenting Woodward’s side of the story and here’s Jay Bratt’s explanation.

In his explanation of the dispute for Judge Cannon, Woodward repeatedly denied being the source for leaks to the press because “we litigate our cases in Court.” He even explained that multiple people got ahold of a longer letter including his complaint, but reporters, “agreed not to disclose defense counsel’s identity at defense counsel’s request because, we litigate our cases in Court.” That’s the same reason Woodward provided for not correcting Trump’s Truth Social attacks,

alleging prosecutors with the special counsel’s office had attempted to ‘bribe & intimidate’ a lawyer representing a witness in the case and claimed that the lawyer had been offered an, ‘”important judgship” in the Biden administration’ if the client ‘”flips” on President Trump.’

As Stan Woodward tells it, he spent a whole lot of time instructing journalists precisely how they should report on these allegations, but without correcting any false claims made by Trump.

It turns out, though, that Woodward’s complaint is not the only one Trump used in a bid to get grand jury testimony unsealed back in June 2023, after getting a target letter. Trump made a bunch of allegations:

  • Brett Reynolds was anxious to get Kash Patel to testify under the schedule when Beryl Howell had ordered it to occur even after Patel hired Stan Woodward just as the Oath Keeper trial tied up his schedule for months
  • Prosecutors asked Chamberlain Harris for a password to the laptop on which she had some classified information and she provided it
  • They gave Margo Martin somewhere between 72 hours and six days notice for a grand jury subpoena
  • They obtained a warrant for Carlos De Oliveira’s phone after having issued a subpoena for content because he hadn’t turned over a message from Nauta instructing him to cover up a July 10, 2022 return to Mar-a-Lago by Nauta and Trump
  • Tim Parlatore invoked attorney-client privilege 45 times during a grand jury appearance

It’s the last one that is the most remarkable. As Jack Smith explained — before even addressing the Woodward claims — the reason Parlatore was testifying before the grand jury in the first places was because Trump refused to have a real custodian of records attest to the thoroughness of the searches of Trump’s other properties for remaining stolen documents. As a result, Parlatore agreed to sit for a grand jury interview at which he would make item by item privilege claims about the thoroughness of the search he had overseen.

It was the same stunt Trump pulled with Christina Bobb in June 2022.

That part of Jack Smith’s response provides a ton more details about Parlatore’s efforts to string out prosecutors in fall 2022.

Trump made claims of abuse about one question in particular: whether Trump was the source for false claims Parlatore made about how cooperative Trump was during the June 2022 Jay Bratt visit, at which Parlatore was not present.

At one point, Parlatore ciaimed attorney-client privilege after being asked whether the former President was the source for Parlatore’s testimony about statements the former President purportedly made to government investigators about being cooperative. GJTr.40. The prosecutor then asked if a client could waive privilege and questioned why the former President had not allowed Parlatore to testify as to these conversations if he (the former President) meant to be cooperative, but the government prosecutor also quickly made clear that she was “absolutely not saying” that waiver of privilege is required to be cooperative and that, consistent with her earlier statement, she did not mean to “induce any waivers.”GJTr.40-43. Nonetheless, Parlatore on several occasions accused the government prosecutors of “trying to improperly invade the attorney/client privilege.”GJTr.45. see also GJTr.77. After one such accusation, a government prosecutor conveyed to Parlatore that “if [he] want[ed] to invoke the privilege, [he] can just say that” instead of casting aspersions about “what the people on this side of the table are and are not trying to do.”

In short, it was designed to create the opportunity to claim abuse, and Trump then claimed it.

What’s so interesting about the allegation — besides all the details of Parlatore stringing along prosecutors — is that shortly before this complaint, Parlatore loudly left Trump’s team and fairly routinely ran his mouth about details of Trump’s legal team. That is, Parlatore was more forthcoming with CNN than he was with the grand jury. And per a Hugo Lowell story, Parlatore shared a transcript of this grand jury appearance before Trump demanded a transcript of this grand jury appearance.

It’s all so predictable and obvious.

But … eight months later, it still seems to work wonders for Aileen Cannon.

Trump’s Nuclear Documents Were Mixed with Post-Presidential Press Clippings

Some of the most interesting documents from the exhibits released with Trump’s motion to compel discovery yesterday pertain to the review of the original 15 documents returned in January 2022. This email thread within NARA describes an initial review of the documents. And these tables describe what the FBI found on initial review.

Together, they go a long way to describing why FBI had to pursue a criminal, rather than just a countrintelligence, investigation.

The initial review was written on January 18, the same day the 15 boxes arrived in DC. That initial review and a follow-up confirmed that NARA had received the things they had originally asked for: the weather map that Trump had altered, plus an accordian folder including the other documents they were seeking.

There was one accordian folder in the mess so it stood out. It contained, among other things, the Obama letter and North Korea correspondence. We need to verify that all of the correspondence is in there. But I think we are in good shape.

But even before discovering that, the person who wrote the memo described how an initial glance revealed classified documents, and a closer look after moving the boxes to a SCIF revealed news clippings that post-dated Trump’s presidency.

My plan was to glance into each box before I shelved it so I could give y’all a high level overview. As I fanned through the pile of newspapers at the top of the first box, I found several unfoldered classified docs in between some of the newspapers. So I took all the boxes to the SCIF. The first box I picked up in the SCIF had a newspaper on top that was post 1/20/2021. At that point I decided to take a closer look in each box to see if there are other issues that you three, David, and Deb might want to know about sooner than later.

From the start then, NARA knew that someone else at Mar-a-Lago had been accessing classified information after the end of his presidency.

For comparison, the FBI found that there were post-VP folders in a box with the Afghan documents at the core of Robert Hur’s investigation into Biden’s classified documents, but those were separate folders.

The person described that most of those classified documents — as claimed by Trump’s lawyers — were “state briefing papers and briefing cards” prepping Trump to talk to foreign leaders. But they “saw several docs that I think are PDBs” and “also found an incredibly sensitive SAP [Special Access Program] document.”

The person also found several things that Congress had requested.

I did see some material related to 1/6 and COVID. And at close glance I believe one of the classified docs is responsive to a third Congressional request. So we will need to review all of these boxes.

In other words, from the start there were two reasons for NARA to look more closely: the classified documents, but also the documents that Congress had already requested.

The FBI report, done a month later, provides three tables categorizing the classified documents found in those boxes. The single SAP document found by the NARA person, for example, is a 6-page memo dated to 2019.

In box 3, the FBI found three FRD (Formerly Restricted, an Atomic Energy Act designation that Presidents cannot override by themselves) documents totalling 57 pages.

All the FRD documents date to November 12, 2019, so they may pertain to Iran’s decision to resume enrichment at their Fordow facility announced on November 6.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Nov. 6 that 696 of the centrifuges allowed at Fordow would be used for enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent uranium-235, slightly above the 3.67 percent U-235 limit set by the deal. The remaining 348 machines will be used for medical isotope production, he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed in its Nov. 11 report that Iran began enrichment at the site on Nov. 9.

This is the fourth step Tehran has taken in breach of its JCPOA commitments over the past six months. In May 2019, Rouhani said Iran would “reduce compliance” with its nuclear obligations under the deal in response to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the deal in May 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions in violation of the accord. (See ACT, June 2019.)

The other parties to the deal (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union) criticized Iran’s decision, but said they remain committed to preserving the nuclear deal.

In a Nov. 11 joint statement, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, the UK and the EU foreign chief said the Fordow decision “represents a regrettable acceleration of Iran’s disengagement” from its commitments under the nuclear deal.

The FBI noted that the single NATO document, a slide dated two days after the FRD ones, would trigger treaty obligations.

I argued in October 2022 that Trump’s strategy with these 15 boxes curated personally by Trump appear to mirror Trump’s disinformation strategy generally: to bury his crimes behind literal and figurative press clippings. It sounds like these initial documents actually had a higher proportion of press clippings than the documents ultimately seized in the Mar-a-Lago search.

But he tripped up: By including post-presidential clippings amid his nuclear documents, Trump gave investigators more reason to look, rather than less.

Jack Smith Is Not Amused

By Trump’s motions to dismiss the stolen document case.

Election Interference: Aileen Cannon Denies Republicans Speedy Trial in Stolen Document Case

In comments to my thread describing how Aileen Cannon had deferred decision on the Trump stolen documents case, I admitted a lot of smart people were warning that her order was a non-appealable death knell for the May trial.

Those smart people were right. Judge Cannon has all but ensured that Republican voters will not have a chance to learn whether Trump really did store nuclear documents in his bathroom before picking him as their candidate.

Yesterday, Jay Bratt asked her to set an earlier deadline for CIPA 5 — the part of the process where Trump describes what he wants to use at trial.

In the Court’s Order Granting in Part Government’s Motion to Continue Trial and Resetting Deadlines (ECF No. 83), it set November 17, 2023, as the deadline for the defense to file their CIPA Section 5 notice. In ECF No. 205, the Court stayed the November 17 deadline, among others, and in its Order Granting in Part Defendants’ Motion to Continue Pretrial Deadlines and Denying without Prejudice Motion to Adjourn Trial, the Court superseded all deadlines except those identified in the Order. ECF No. 215 at 8. The Court’s new set of CIPA deadlines did not include a date for the defense to file a CIPA Section 5 notice.

[snip]

Defense counsel now have full access to approximately 5,500 pages of classified discovery (see ECF No. 215 at 4) – the vast majority of the classified discovery in this case – and the laptops necessary to create pleadings referencing those materials. They therefore are in a position to provide notice under CIPA Section 5 as to which documents or pieces of information from these 5,500 pages, or from any other source, they reasonably expect to disclose at trial. Providing such notice by a set, near-term date will facilitate the completion of CIPA litigation before the May 20, 2024 trial date.

[snip]

The Government acknowledges that (a) rulings on its CIPA Section 4 motion will likely result in the production of a limited amount of additional classified discovery;2 and (b) the defense could be successful in compelling the production of other classified materials. However, rather than delaying setting any CIPA Section 5 deadline until the CIPA Section 4 and discovery litigation is complete, the Court should reset the initial CIPA Section 5 deadline for December 18, 2023, with the understanding that it may be necessary to permit a supplemental CIPA Section 5 notice after all classified discovery issues have been resolved.

Judge Cannon responded within short order.

No.

PAPERLESS ORDER denying without prejudice 219 Motion for CIPA Section 5 Notification. As stated in the Court’s November 10, 2023, Order 215, “[a]ll previously remaining deadlines in the Court’s July 21, 2023, Order are superseded except calendar call and trial.” The Court “reset[] the first set of pre-trial deadlines” as indicated on pages 8 and 9 of that Order 215 and scheduled a conference on March 1, 2024, “to address remaining deadlines.” To the extent the Special Counsel’s motion seeks reconsideration in part of the Court’s November 10, 2023, Order 215, that request is denied. CIPA Section 5 deadlines, and all other pre-trial deadlines not included in the first batch of pre-trial deadlines contained in the Court’s revised schedule 215, will be set following the March 1, 2024, scheduling conference.

At the very least, this ensures that Republicans will not know whether a jury finds that Trump harm the United States before they make him the party nominee. It may mean no voter gets to know that.

I’ve finally found Trump’s election interference!

Stan Woodward Claims He Doesn’t Know Where the Missing Beautiful Mind Boxes Went

Perhaps the most amazing detail in the stolen documents transcript of last week’s hearing before Judge Aileen Cannon is that until the summer, Trump still had a Q clearance.

There is a category of documents that it — actually in unclassified discovery, we learned a week or two ago that there is a certain category of documents that require what is called a “Q clearance” and it includes one of the charged documents, and we learned that it’s a Department of Energy program. We learned that President Trump continued to have an active security clearance, even after he was indicted in this case, with the Department of Energy. Now that, in our view, is the definition of Brady. It was — I’m not going to say it was buried, but it was provided to us in discovery as part of miscellaneous materials at some point in the third or fourth production. I mean, it is literally a memo from the Department of Energy dated June — dated late June of this year, June 28th of this year, saying that, oh, we should remove Donald J. Trump from the person who has an active security clearance. He has been charged with possessing a document in violation of federal law, when he has an active security clearance with the holder of that document.

The detail doesn’t help as much as Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, would have you think. Whatever clearance Presidents get under the Atomic Energy Act (especially since presidents don’t get clearance; on Bluesky, Cheryl Rofer suggests he may have gotten DOE clearance while still a candidate) obliges them to follow document handling rules that might not have been as meticulously spelled out for Trump under his access to other classified documents. That he still had access when he was found with nuclear documents in August 2022 only means he was affirmatively violating the terms of his Q clearance, not that he could legally store nuclear documents in his gaudy bathroom.

Most people who get charged under the Espionage Act have or had clearances; those clearances actually make it easier to prosecute them.

Though Trump finally added someone appropriate to an Espionage Act trial last month, former SDNY National Security AUSA  Emil Bove, Blanche still seems to have a woefully inadequate understanding of how 18 USC 793 elements of the offense get proven at trial.

And Jay Bratt seems to be unable to conceive that his counterparts (and, probably, Judge Cannon) fail to understand that.

Bratt’s attempt to explain all this — something that makes a lot of sense to me from covering so many of these trials — was just one of two times where (in the transcript at least) Cannon abruptly cut off Bratt, as she often does when she risks embarrassment.

BRATT: I do not — we do not believe that the motion to compel litigation needs to be complete before they can file with the Court their theory of defense with respect to the 793 charges, and it kind of strains credulity that they say they can’t do that. You know, the elements of 793 are unauthorized possession of a document containing national defense information, possessing it willfully, that is with knowledge that what you are doing is unlawful, and failing to return it to a proper person. All that information they can flesh that out for the Court, and there is really — they may have legal — separate legal challenges to the 793 charges, but if you look at the elements, those are the defenses: Either he didn’t possess it, or he was authorized to possess it, or the information doesn’t contain national defense information, or he wasn’t acting willfully, or he returned it before he was being asked to return it. Those are the defenses, and they may have other color they want —

THE COURT: But to some extent, of course, one would have to review the relevant classified discovery in order to formulate a meaningful response, even if maybe not entirely complete, it would be difficult to just sketch out a skeleton, so to speak, of your theory without really doing so rooted in the documents themselves.

MR. BRATT: So I’m not sure that you do need to be able to say, no, we know this doesn’t contain NDI for the Court to rule on whether or not what we are presenting in Section 4 is relevant and helpful to the Defense, I don’t think so. I understand that, you know, they have said in their pleadings that they are going to strongly contest whether or not the information was national defense information, strongly contest whether it was closely held. Our burden is to prove that it was, and we embrace that burden; but these documents, you know, I —

THE COURT: That’s fine. We don’t need to talk about the actual contents of the documents, obviously, given this is a public hearing.

Blanche was pretty obsessed with the classification determinations, marveling over the fact that prosecutors had to talk to the Intelligence Community before deciding what documents to charge, what documents they could charge.

We have seen communications between NARA and the Department of Justice and the White House and the Special Counsel that started way before what has been publicly disclosed and extensive meetings, extensive communications; and so we feel very strongly and expect that we will win on that, when we file the motion that NARA is absolutely part of this prosecution team and that the intelligence communities that they worked very closely with in determining the — well, from what we can tell, the particular documents that they chose to charge, so there is purportedly a tranche of documents that have classified headings on them, and then 32 that they decided to charge. That wasn’t just done in a vacuum. They didn’t just, you know, pick 32 documents out of a hat and say, “We will go with these.” There was a lot of coordination that we can tell from the materials we do have with the intelligence community that ultimately led them to proceed the way they did.

So yes, we have an answer with them. They say very strongly that they view the prosecution team as being limited to the Special Counsel’s Office and the FBI, and we very strongly believe that’s wrong.

That may have been a cynical ploy to treat the IC as part of the prosecution team, which in turn may be an attempt at graymail.

Blanche also claimed that the defense had not yet received all the classification reviews for these documents, and had yet to receive Jencks production for people he imagines will sit on the stand and attest to the classification of each document, in a trial where the standard is National Defense Authorization, not classification.

THE COURT: What about classification reviews, have you received all of those?

MR. BLANCHE: No, Your Honor, we have not received all of them. That is one of the things that we are continuing to ask about. We have received them for — I believe for the charge documents; but as what should be obvious from the volume compared to the 32 counts, there is a tremendous number of documents that are extraordinarily important to our defense that are purportedly classified that we don’t have any information about at this time.

[snip]

A little bit about the classified Jencks material, as was discussed. The issue of whether a particular document is classified or not is something for the jury. And what we are looking for in discovery and what we don’t have is that has to be from a witness. There has to be a witness that is testifying about why a particular document is classified; and as part of that, like any witness, we are entitled to 3500 and Jencks material and we don’t have that. We don’t have that for all the witnesses, and our concern is that there is this class or category of Giglio and Jencks material that we are going to get at some later date which we are then going to — it’s another Section 4 litigation, at that point, because we are going to then ask the Court what we can use to impeach the witness, what information we are allowed to cross-examine him or her on.

Bratt did correct Blanche to say that Trump had already gotten all the classification determinations for all the classified documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.

THE COURT: Now, I went through some of these categories with Mr. Blanche, but classification reviews, are those included in the 5,500 and/or the disks?

MR. BRATT: Yes. And just to respond to something Mr. Blanche said, and it may have been oversight, it is not just for the 32 documents. It is for all 340-some documents that were at Mar-A-Lago.

But I just think that Blanche doesn’t get how easy it’ll be to convince jurors that you can’t put nuclear documents in a beach resort shower (and that’s all before the smoke and mirrors that the government uses in all Espionage Act trials, which will be epically contentious here).

I don’t think he understands any of this.

This all brings me to something I’ve been wondering: what the government has been withholding anticipating its CIPA 4 filing, which has been delayed by various Trump games about CIPA. CIPA 4 covers stuff they’ll share with Judge Cannon to have her rule whether the material needs to be turned over to the defense (the standard is whether the material is relevant and helpful to the defense), and if so, whether DOJ can use substitutions for some of the information.

This is my updated track of the universe of classified discovery.

Pretty much everything that should obviously be there is there:

  • The stolen documents themselves
  • All the witness testimony about the documents
  • The discussions about classification reviews of the documents (which Brian Greer has suggested were likely somewhat limited in anticipation of trial)

But there’s one thing not mentioned — at least not obviously — that always proves contentious in 793 cases: The damage assessment.

One way defendants always attempt to prove that things aren’t National Defense Information is by pointing to a report — if they get one — that nothing blew up after they released a document or left it in their beach resort shower.

Often defendants don’t get them.

I’m particularly interested in what kind of damage assessment the Intelligence Community did here because of a footnote included in the 11th Circuit appeal last year, which I wrote about here:

footnote modifying a discussion about the damage assessment the Intelligence Community is currently doing referenced a letter then-NSA Director Mike Rogers wrote in support of Nghia Pho’s sentencing in 2018. [This letter remains sealed in the docket but Josh Gerstein liberated it at the time.]

[I]n order to assess the full scope of potential harms to national security resulting from the improper retention of the classified records, the government must assess the likelihood that improperly stored classified information may have been accessed by others and compromised. 4

4 Departments and agencies in the IC would then consider this information to determine whether they need to treat certain sources and methods as compromised. See, e.g., Exhibit A to Sentencing Memorandum, United States v. Pho, No. 1:17-cr-631 (D. Md. Sept. 18, 2018), D.E. 20-1 (letter from Adm. Michael S. Rogers, Director, National Security Agency) (“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.”).

Even on its face, the comment suggests the possibility that the Intelligence Community is shutting down collection programs because Trump took documents home.

You can’t very well do nothing after you learn some of the most sensitive government documents were parked on a stage in a room hosting weddings attended by all manner of foreigner and grifter. You can’t do nothing after learning that Trump freely blabbed about the content of his stolen documents to anyone who bought access to him. You can’t do nothing after a Five Eyes document gets dumped out of a box in a storage closet that musicians and other resort personnel have accessed. You’ve got to go to your Five Eyes allies and explain that America’s former President is a dumbass and so the allies should take measures assuming that some drunken guest got a look at that document.

You might not even be able to charge documents as sensitive as these if the underlying programs hadn’t had to be rolled up. The spooks are going to prefer to protect the programs over vengeance against the dumbass former President.

Which brings me to the most intriguing claim made at the hearing.

Stan Woodward — Walt Nauta’s attorney — claims that neither he nor the government have figured out where all the missing boxes have gone.

[T]he Special Counsel has directed us to certain portions of the CCTV footage that they view as the most relevant, but there is — from what we know and from our defense, there is a tremendous amount of CCTV footage that we believe has been produced that is not what they have identified that is extremely relevant to us. For example, to the extent that boxes were moved on occasions other than what is delineated in the indictment, that is certainly something that matters to us.

[snip]

We have, of course, the benefit of consultation with our clients and are able to talk about what video we should be looking at and what video we should not be looking at. And the entire nature of the allegations, of the charges in this case are about missing boxes, right? The indictment is charging Mr. Nauta — and I’ll just stick with my client, with Mr. Nauta — with having moved boxes. Some number of boxes come out of a storage room, a lesser number of boxes go into the storage room, and Mr. Nauta is charged with hiding those boxes from whether it is Trump’s then counsel or whether it is the Government. And obviously, we are interested in knowing where those boxes are if they are, in fact, missing. The CCTV footage is what is going to help us understand that riddle.

Now, the Government does not know where those boxes went. As far as I can tell, to this day, the Government does not know where the boxes they allege were hidden ended up.

[snip]

I have a whole separate computer that I’m using just to do these extractions so that I can go in and start watching this days of video so that we can make an assessment of what this case is all about and whether it is about missing boxes or about boxes that just weren’t found when the FBI conducted its search of the property.

Now, Woodward has a habit of saying things that I find … shall I say, unpersuasive?

This certainly feels like one of those instances, coming as it did amid a schtick whereby Woodward repeatedly referred to the government, then corrected himself to say Special Counsel, something that seems to mirror Judge Cannon’s own preferences for calling Jack Smith’s office the OSC (John Durham used this abbreviation but no one else does).

Woodward is attempting to claim that he needs to delay the trial past the election because he needs to review all of ten years worth of surveillance video to defend his client. I’ve seen him make similar claims in January 6 trials.

More importantly, this is not a remotely fair representation of the charges against Nauta, which have to do with Nauta claiming to know nothing about moving boxes within days of being caught on surveillance video moving boxes, then allegedly attempting to destroy the video that captured him moving those boxes. Importantly, even if someone else moved a bunch of boxes that aren’t otherwise included in the indictment, it doesn’t exonerate Nauta. It could even inculpate him: if boxes were at Mar-a-Lago for someone else to move because Nauta had taken steps to withhold them from the government, it means his alleged obstruction would have made those other movements possible.

Plus, one big reason why the government charged Nauta, I believe, is because they believe he knows what happened to the missing boxes, including the ones he packed up to go to Bedminster where they disappeared forever.

I don’t doubt that the government hasn’t accounted for all the missing boxes; certainly Bratt did not correct Woodward on this point.

But one reason the government would have had to get ten years of video is to attempt to see who else entered that closet, to see who was in the closet when a Five Eyes document tumbled out, to see whether any of the foreign visitors to Mar-a-Lago seemed to know to look in the closet.

That’s not something that would show up in the indictment, not without proof that Trump willfully told visitors where the documents were.

But if Woodward is telling the truth about needing to see who else was moving boxes around, rather than just using the volume of video to stall, it might suggest he’s trying to find out what you might otherwise learn from a damage assessment. It might suggest that either Nauta hasn’t been entirely forthcoming with Woodward or Trump isn’t being forthcoming with his lawyers or his trusted valet.

Learning what the government saw in the surveillance video about moving boxes is not remotely necessary for defending Nauta against the charges against him. It might have a lot to do with understanding how ugly the story prosecutors will tell at trial will be.

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.


Claim:

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.

Debunking:

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.


Claim:

[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.


Claim:

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.

[snip]

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

Claim:

[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.

Debunking:

[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.


Claim:

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.

Debunking:

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.


Claim:

[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.

Debunking:

[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.

Debunking:

[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.

Aileen Cannon Working Hard to Protect Stan Woodward; Doing Nothing to Protect Walt Nauta or Carlos De Oliveira

In this post, I noted all the things in DOJ’s reply on their motion for a Garcia hearing that had to have come from the grand jury, and assumed that DC Chief Judge James Boasberg must have permitted DOJ to share it.

As described here, yesterday’s reply on the motion for a Garcia hearing in the stolen documents case revealed a good deal of grand jury information about Yuscil Taveras’ testimony.

It revealed:

  • Trump’s IT worker, Taveras, testified (falsely, the government claims) in March
  • DOJ obtained two more subpoenas for surveillance footage, on June 29 and July 11, 2023 (the existence of those subpoenas, but not the date, had already been disclosed in a discovery memo)
  • It included the docket number associated with the conflict review — 23-GJ-46 — and cited Woodward’s response to the proceedings
  • James Boasberg provided Taveras with conflict counsel
  • Taveras changed his testimony after consulting with an independent counsel

Under grand jury secrecy rules, DC Chief Judge Boasberg would have had to approve sharing that information, but the docket itself remains sealed and Boasberg has not unsealed any of the proceedings.

A filing submitted from DOJ shows that I was right.

It also shows that Judge Aileen Cannon and Walt Nauta attorney Stan Woodward are engaged in a game that is doing nothing to ensure that Nauta’s getting unconflicted legal representation, but it is protecting Trump’s protection racket.

Let’s review the timeline.

On August 2, DOJ filed their original motion for a Garcia hearing, describing, generally, that Yuscil Taveras had testified against Nauta, which presented a conflict for Woodward, even before you consider the three other possible trial witnesses — of seven remaining witnesses — he also represents. DOJ submitted a sealed supplement with information on those three as well as other information, “to facilitate the Court’s inquiry.” Five days later, Cannon ordered that filing stricken, stating that, the government had, “fail[ed] to satisfy the burden of establishing a sufficient legal or factual basis to warrant sealing the motion and supplement.” In her drawn out briefing schedule on the question, she instructed Stan Woodward to address, “the legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district.”

On August 17, Woodward responded. He contended that Garcia hearings only covered when an attorney represented two defendants, but ultimately argued that, rather than adopt a more traditional method of resolving such a conflict (such as replacing Woodward), Judge Cannon should exclude Taveras’ testimony.

The government’s reply — filed on August 22 — is the one that made public more, damning, information on what went down in June and July.

Three more days passed before Woodward submitted a furious motion requesting opportunity to file a sur-reply. In it, filed 23 days after DOJ’s original submission and sealed filing, he accused DOJ of contravening, “a sealing order issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia,1” though in a rambling footnote, he admitted maybe DOJ had requested to unseal this ex parte.

1. Defense counsel is not currently aware of any application by the government to unseal defense counsel’s submission. To have done so ex parte is arguably less professional than deliberately violating the Court’s sealing order. The government did not solicit defense counsel’s position on the unsealing of defense counsel’s own submission, but appears to have deliberately misled both the District Court for the District of Columbia and this Court. Of course, if they did seek such an application ex parte, this would be the second time in as many weeks that the government has done so – a particularly ironic approach given the Special Counsel’s objection to the Court conducting any ex parte inquiry of Mr. Nauta.

In a fit of Trumpist projection, Woodward also complained that DOJ was doing things that might lead to tampering with witnesses.

2 In the time since the government’s submission, defense counsel has received several threatening and/or disparaging emails and phone calls. This is the result of the Special Counsel’s callous disregard for how their unnecessary actions affect and influence the public and the lives of the individuals involved in this matter. It defies credulity to suggest that it is coincidental that mere minutes after the government’s submission, at least one media outlet was reporting previously undisclosed details that were disclosed needlessly by the government.

Projection, projection, projection.

Well, it worked. Judge Cannon granted Woodward’s motion, even giving him one more day than he asked, until August 31 instead of August 30 (remember that she scheduled a sealed hearing sometime in this timeframe). Which will mean that because of actions taken and inaction by Aileen Cannon, Walt Nauta will go the entire month of August without getting a conflict review.

Meanwhile, on August 16, DOJ filed a motion for a Garcia hearing to discuss the three witnesses represented by Carlos De Oliveira’s attorney who may testify against him. Best as I can tell, Cannon is simply ignoring that one. Fuck De Oliveira, I guess.

After Cannon assented to yet more delay before she addressed the potentially conflicted representation of two of three defendants before her (someday, Cannon may even have to deal with conflicts Todd Blanche has, since he also represents Boris Epshteyn), DOJ submitted notice sharing a filing they submitted before the DC grand jury, assenting to Woodward’s request, filed just yesterday morning (that is, three days after their reply), asking to unseal stuff that was already unsealed.

It includes the Woodward filing, from which DOJ’s reply quoted, that Woodward claims DOJ cited out of context.

The full filing doesn’t help Woodward.

Indeed, Woodward’s own filing suggests that if Taveras wanted to cooperate with the government, that would entail seeking a new attorney.

Ultimately, this is little more than a last-ditch effort to pressure [Taveras] with vague (and likely nonexistent) criminal conduct in the hopes that [Taveras] will agree to become a witness cooperating with the government in other matters. See Government Filing, p. 10 (“A conflict may arise during an investigation if a lawyer’s ‘responsibility to his other clients prevents the lawyer from exploring with the prosecutor whether it might be in the interest of one witness to cooperate with the grand jury or to seek immunity if the witness’s cooperation or testimony would be detrimental to the lawyer’s other client.’ [] ‘Professional ethics prevent [an attorney] from advising a witness to seek immunity or leniency when the quid pro quo is testimony damning to his other clients, to whom he also owes a duty of undivided fidelity[.] [] In many cases, however, that advice is precisely what the client needs to hear, even, or perhaps especially, when it ‘is unwelcome’ advice that ‘the client, as a personal matter, does not want to hear or follow.’ [] (internal citations omitted)). Ultimately, [Taveras] has been advised by counsel that he may, at any time, seek new counsel, and that includes if he ultimately decided he wanted to cooperate with the government. However, [Taveras] has not signified any such desire and that means counsel for [Taveras] can continue to represent [Taveras] both diligently and competently. [my emphasis]

And the filing makes clear that DOJ addressed at more length the conflict presented because Woodward was being paid by Save America PAC; while I’m uncertain about the local rules in SDFL, in DC there is a specific rule 1.8(e), requiring informed consent when an attorney is paid by someone else. While Woodward addressed it (see below), Woodward’s own description that Taveras could get another lawyer if he wanted to cooperate would seem to conflict with that rule’s independence of representation, and when he addresses the rule, Woodward doesn’t address confidentiality.

Furthermore, when Woodward addresses why being paid by Save America PAC is only natural for Taveras because Taveras worked for Trump, he makes an argument that wouldn’t explain the entirety of his representation for Nauta — or, for that matter, Kash Patel, a known Woodward client who testified in the stolen documents case.

While the government has often sought to imply an illicit purpose for the Save America PAC covering the legal costs of certain grand jury witnesses, the truth has always been very simple and legitimate: many of the grand jury witnesses, including [Taveras], are only subject to this investigation by virtue of their employment with entities related to or owned by Donald Trump. Save America PAC has placed no conditions on the provision of legal services to their employees. Ultimately and in compliance with Rule 1.8, [Taveras] was advised that Save America PAC would pay his legal fees, that [Taveras] could pursue other counsel than Mr. Woodward if he so desired, that Save America PAC was not Mr. Woodward’s client, that [Taveras] was Mr. Woodward’s client, and that [Taveras] could always make the decisions relating to the trajectory of [Taveras]’s grand jury testimony. [my emphasis]

Taveras is only a witness because Trump paid him to do IT work. But for much of the conduct about which Kash must have given testimony, represented by Woodward, he was the Acting Chief of Staff at the Pentagon. That’s the period when, per Kash, Trump conducted a wild declassification spree in his last days as President before packing up boxes to move to Mar-a-Lago.

And while most of Nauta’s exposure as a witness (and now defendant) arises from things Nauta did as Trump’s valet after both left the White House, ¶25 of the superseding indictment, describing the process by which Trump and Nauta packed up to leave, entails conduct from before Nauta left government employ.

If Trump were to be charged with 18 USC 2071, Nauta would be a witness to that.

In other words, brushing off the financial conflict with Taveras is one thing, but this conflict is also about Nauta. And Nauta is now being prosecuted for conduct that may have begun when American taxpayers were paying him, not Donald Trump. One of the things Nauta may be hiding by not cooperating are details about Trump’s overt intentions as they both packed up boxes.

And that’s not even the most damning part of the filing DOJ submitted yesterday.

DOJ also submitted its initial motion to unseal grand jury materials, submitted on July 30, in advance of the Garcia motion.

That motion reveals, first of all, that DOJ informed Judge Cannon of the conflict hearing on June 27.

On June 27, 2023, the government filed a sealed motion asking the Court to conduct an inquiry into potential conflicts of interests arising from attorney Stanley Woodward, Jr.’s simultaneous representation of [Taveras] and Waltine Nauta (“conflicts hearing motion”); and a separate sealed motion seeking Court authorization to disclose the conflicts hearing motion by, among other things, attaching a copy of the motion to a sealed notice to be filed in United States v. Donald J. Trump, Waltine Nauta, and Carlos De Oliveira, No. 23-cr-80101 (S.D. Fla.) (“Florida case”). The Court granted both motions, and the government filed the sealed notice, with a copy of the conflicts hearing motion attached, the same day.

As DOJ noted in its reply, that’s what the sealed docket entries 45 and 46 are.

That is, Aileen Cannon knew this was happening in real time. DOJ wasn’t hiding anything from her.

That motion to unseal also describes that DOJ intended to file “all information related to the conflicts hearing,” including the appointment of Michelle Peterson to represent Taveras, in a sealed supplement to its motion for a Garcia hearing.

The government therefore moves for an order permitting it to disclose to the court in the Florida case all information related to the conflicts hearing, including the fact and dates of the hearing, the resulting appointment of AFPD to represent [Taveras], and, if necessary, any filings, orders, or transcripts associated with the conflicts hearing. The government initially intends to include such information only in a sealed supplement to its motion for a Garcia hearing.

In other words, these two docket entries that Judge Cannon ordered be stricken, five days after they were posted and therefore made available to both Cannon and Woodward?

They include the material that, Woodward claims, he had never seen before DOJ’s reply.

Judge Cannon just gave Woodward another bite at the apple, as well as another six days before his client gets a Garcia hearing, based off Woodward’s claim that he had never seen information DOJ had shared (and which would have been available to Woodward for five days) but then Cannon herself had removed from the record. DOJ did provide this information in its initial motion. But because of actions Cannon took — the judicial equivalent of flushing that information down the toilet — Woodward (after waiting three days himself before first asking Judge Boasberg to share the information) claimed that he had never seen it before.

DOJ may have had a sense of where this was going, because back on July 30, in the same paragraph where they asked for permission to submit this information as part of a sealed supplement, DOJ also asked for permission to share it in unsealed form if things came to that.

[T]o ensure that it does not need to return to the Court for further disclosure orders, the government also seeks authorization to disclose information related to the conflicts hearing more broadly in the Florida case, as the need arises, including in briefing and in-court statements related to the Garcia hearing.

Things did, indeed, come to that.

And Woodward may have gotten notice of all that from Judge Boasberg’s order on July 31.

Things are going to get really testy going forward (if they haven’t already under seal) because, in a filing that DOJ did not first ask permission to file (but which I suspect would be authorized by a sealed order elsewhere in the docket, not to mention general ethical obligations requiring DOJ to inform her of everything going on in DC), DOJ just revealed that Judge Cannon threw out precisely the information that she’s now using to grant Woodward’s request for a sur-reply and — between the three days he waited to ask and the six she granted him to respond — nine more days to delay such time before Walt Nauta might be told about the significance of all the conflicted representation Woodward has taken on.

But I also expect that this will escalate quickly in one or another forum. Aileen Cannon was informed weeks ago of two significant conflicts in the representation of defendants before her, and rather than attend to those conflicts (or decide, simply, that she was going to blow them off, which in some forms might be an appealable decision), she has helped Woodward simply stall any resolution to the potential conflict.

Remember how I’ve promised I would start yelling if I believed that Cannon was doing something clearly problematic to help Trump? I’d say we’re there.

Update: Corrected my own math on the delay, which I said was 11 days but is 9. Ignoring that Cannon asked for lengthy briefing on a topic that most judges would just issue an order on, the key delays are:

  • 5 days before Cannon flushed the sealed supplement down the judicial toilet
  • 3 days between the DOJ reply and Woodward’s panicked demand for a sur-reply based on a claim that DOJ hadn’t previously raised the things Cannon flushed
  • 6 days of delay before Woodward will submit his sur-reply

Trump Changed the Lock in His Residence before Changing the Lock on the Storage Room

In another motion for a Garcia hearing in the Trump stolen documents case, DOJ revealed that Trump changed a lock on a storage closet in his own residence on June 2, before changing the lock on the storage closet where his classified documents had been stored for months.

At issue is one of three clients of Carlos De Oliveira’s attorney, John Irving, that DOJ says may testify at trial.

Recall that Stan Woodward represents seven clients interviewed in this matter, and did represent Yuscil Taveras before he got a new lawyer and cooperated against Woodward client Walt Nauta. DOJ tried to describe those conflicts under seal, which Judge Aileen Cannon refused, which may be why DOJ has laid out these conflicts in an unsealed court filing.

The three witnesses whom Irving represents include a Trump Employee 3 — the person who told Nauta that Trump wanted to see him before Nauta flew to Mar-a-Lago and allegedly tried to delete surveillance video, a former Trump assistant (possibly Chamberlain Harris?) who knew of movements of boxes to Mar-a-Lago, and the head maintenance worker at MAL whom De Oliveira replaced, referred to as Witness 1 in the filing.

The most damning testimony the Witness 1 provided debunked the excuse De Oliveira made to explain why he was taking pictures of surveillance cameras at MAL.

Witness 1 was a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago who served as head of maintenance before De Oliveira took over that position in January 2022. Witness 1 has information demonstrating the falsity of statements De Oliveira has made to the Government. In addition to the false statements De Oliveira made to the FBI that are the basis for the false-statements charge in Count 42 of the superseding indictment, he also made false statements in an April 2023 interview with the FBI and members of the Special Counsel’s Office in Washington, D.C. In particular, when confronted with video footage appearing to show him photographing surveillance cameras in the tunnel at Mar-a-Lago near the storage room where the FBI recovered some of the classified records, De Oliveira claimed he was (1) looking for a shutoff valve because a water pipe had ruptured on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago, and (2) documenting a broken door below one of the cameras. Witness 1 has information about when the pipe broke and the door needed repairs that is inconsistent with De Oliveira’s statements.

But the more interesting testimony is that De Oliveira changed the lock on “a closet inside Trump’s residence … on June 2, 2022” after moving boxes with Walt Nauta.

Witness 1 also has information about De Oliveira’s loyalty to Trump and about De Oliveira’s involvement in the replacement of a lock—at the direction of Trump—on a closet inside Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago on June 2, 2022, the day Nauta and De Oliveira moved boxes as described in paragraphs 62-63 of the superseding indictment.

De Oliveira’s the guy who changed the lock on the storage room after Jay Bratt instructed Evan Corcoran to secure it, then gave away the key to some whose identity he claimed to forget when the FBI showed up on August 8 last year.

Agents had another concern: The lock on the door to the storage room was flimsy. The officials urged staff to put a better lock on the door, which De Oliveira did — using a hasp and a padlock to keep it secure, the people said. If there were still highly sensitive classified documents in the room, such a lock was far from sufficient, but it was better than nothing.

[snip]

When FBI agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago the morning of Aug. 8 with a court-issued search warrant, De Oliveira was one of the first people they turned to. They asked him to unlock a storage room where boxes of documents were kept, people familiar with what happened said. De Oliveira said he wasn’t sure where the key was, because he’d given it to either the Secret Service agents guarding the former president or staffers for Trump’s post-presidency office, the people said.

Frustrated, the agents simply cut the lock on the gold-colored door. The incident became part of what investigators would see as a troubling pattern with the answers De Oliveira gave them as they investigated Trump, the people said.

But apparently, sometime before that, De Oliveira added a lock to a closet within Trump’s residence, one that may have stored some subset of the roughly 35 boxes that didn’t get moved back into the storage closet so Corcoran could search them.

Perhaps that lock was designed to ensure that Evan Corcoran didn’t accidentally find the other 35 boxes full of classified documents.

The fact that he changed that lock makes his paltry efforts to secure the main storage closet all the more damning.