President Biden warned last night, “First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going.”
So yes, what Donald Trump has done with these TOP SECRET files including “foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago” is rather essential. Let us not forget, “Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.”
And now, we learn today that there is a strong suggestion that the classified documents Donald Trump stole were handled *post* his presidency.
Ryan Goodman, who is co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, highlighted a nugget today that appears to indicate Trump “handling of boxes/materials post presidency.”
To begin, Goodman was keeping an eye out for whether any of Trump’s personal records that commingled with the classified documents Trump stole postdated 1/20/2021 – the date the nation finally watched Donald Trump and his posse of mob-styled enablers depart the White House.
He thinks he spies at least three documents that post date Trump’s exit. This suggests that the documents were handled AFTER he left the office. (I think we all suspect and would bet that Trump handled the documents after he left the office, but that has not been established yet. It matters.)
I’ve been keeping an eye out for this.
Whether any of Trump’s personal records, commingled with classified docs, postdate 1/20/2021.
These 3 in Privilege Review Team inventory appears to make the case.👇
Legal significance: Indicates handling of boxes/materials post presidency pic.twitter.com/VtMsOtwOo6
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) October 7, 2022
Goodman cites a confidential agreement with the PGA, documents related to his suit against his niece Mary L. Trump, and a folder marked “news article” that contained a an event and commenting services agreement.
He notes two articles pertaining to the inventory log, one of which is a Washington Post analysis of what the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago.
Goodman addresses “The boxes recovered by the National Archives in January 2022 also included ‘post presidential records.’ But it wasn’t clear if that was how they were stored at MAL or instead how they were packed up in returning materials to the Archives.”
Now that we have established that it definitely appears that the classified documents Trump stole have been handled post presidency, what now?
Yesterday we learned that the Department of Justice reportedly told Trump’s lawyers that they believe he has not returned all the documents he took when he left the White House. Furthermore, “investigators remain skeptical that Mr. Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents the former president was supposed to have turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term.
“It is not clear what steps the Justice Department might take to retrieve any material it thinks Mr. Trump still holds.”
The problem is, as the Department of Justice (DOJ) negotiates with someone who has already lied to them, lied through his lawyers, the enormously terrifying threat to the United States’ national security looms. This is no small problem as we are currently on President Joe Biden has pushed to rebuild NATO and hold it together (Trump did a lot of damage there and then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine).
This should raise a lot of alarms, and it begs the question, why hasn’t Trump been charged yet? It’s been 18 months of “negotiating” with Trump to comply with the law. He has yet to do so voluntarily.
Trump has yet to even tell us why he took these documents and what he did with them. They were not his to take, he was aware of that, and the has been asked to return them numerous times and even lied about doing so following a subpoena. Every effort to work with him has been made and then some.
There are suggestions from pundits and hardcore supporters that no one should criticize the DOJ because they are doing things behind the scenes, etc. But experts see possible problems with the way this case appears to be being handled — and the key here is appears, because no one but those directly involved actually know what the DOJ is doing. No one.
But Andrew Weissman spent 20 years at the Department of Justice. He wrote the best-seller “Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation.” If anyone can take an educated guess about what’s going on, it’s Weissman.
Hours before this revelation, Weissman was noting a problem with the DOJ staffing on the Trump classified document case appearing to be the “lead attorney is trained to think of DOJ’s role as negotiating compliance with the law after the person is discovered to be in violation vs indicting the person to promote compliance with the law.”
The problem with the DOJ staffing on the MAL case (at least what is visible) is the lead attorney is trained to think of DOJ’s role as negotiating compliance with the law after the person is discovered to be in violation vs indicting the person to promote compliance with the law.
— Andrew Weissmann 🌻 (@AWeissmann_) October 7, 2022
We do not know what the DOJ is doing. It maddeningly appears they are beyond kid glove treatment with Trump, but to be fair to them, Trump is a former president and this is uncharted territory. They are also dealing with a man who managed to politicize a birth certificate, mainstream white supremacy and neo-Nazis, and turn a violent domestic terrorist attack on our country into something the media is loath to call exactly that. There is also a troubling narrative of Trump indulging in frivolous lawsuits and using lawyers to intimidate and silence witnesses.
Keep an eye on what happens next, and be careful about taking to heart people who claim the DOJ has got this handled and everyone is going to jail as well as those who claim the DOJ is doing nothing. The DOJ is doing something, a lot of something – the questions are: is it effective, is it responding with the appropriate appreciation of the fact that time is of the essence, and do they have the will to charge a former president if the evidence compels it?
Nothing has seemed a more fitting description of Trump’s presidency than the legal documents reading: Donald J.Trump Versus The United States of America.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.