Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I don’t want to get too excited about this and then be let down, but it seems significant. Last night on Alex Wagner’s MSNBC show, national security attorney Mark Zaid said that the latest revelations about the Trump stolen documents investigation suggest that an indictment could be coming in weeks, not months. You can watch the video at Raw Story.

The Raw Story article is based on a new report from CNN yesterday: Exclusive: New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified.

The National Archives has informed former President Donald Trump that it is set to hand over to special counsel Jack Smith 16 records that show Trump and his top advisers had knowledge of the correct declassification process while he was president, according to multiple sources.

In a May 16 letter obtained by CNN, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall writes to Trump, “The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.”

The 16 presidential records, which were subpoenaed earlier this year, may provide critical evidence establishing the former president’s awareness of the declassification process, a key part of the criminal investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents.

The records may also provide insight into Trump’s intent and whether he willfully disregarded what he knew to be clearly established protocols, according to a source familiar with recent testimony provided to the grand jury by former top Trump officials.

Trump and his allies have insisted that as president, Trump did not have to follow a specific process to declassify documents. At a CNN town hall last week Trump repeated the claim that simply by removing classified documents from the White House he had declassified them. “And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them,” Trump said.

According to the letter, Trump tried to block the special counsel from accessing the 16 records by asserting a claim of “constitutionally based privilege.” But in her letter, Wall rejects that claim, stating that the special counsel’s office has represented that it “is prepared to demonstrate with specificity to a court, why it is likely that the 16 records contain evidence that would be important to the grand jury’s investigation.” [….]

The letter goes on to state that the records will be handed over on May 24, 2023 “unless prohibited by an intervening court order.” [….]

Trump’s team may challenge this in court, this person said, but claimed in the past the Archives has handed over documents before the Trump team has had a chance to challenge the release in court.

Read more at the CNN link. Back to the Raw Story analysis:

According to a National Archives letter to Trump on May 16, the staff intends to provide special counsel Jack Smith 16 records that would reveal the White House advisers were taught the appropriate way to declassify documents.

“The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records,” acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall wrote to Trump in a letter obtained by CNN.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has failed to scapegoat others for the documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago. Top Trump adviser Kash Patel told a far-right outlet that the General Services Administration (GSA) packed up Trump’s boxes, and they were the ones who somehow forced Trump to steal the documents. Not long after, the GSA released a letter saying that they required the staff to sign off on the contents in the boxes.

Posting the CNN report on Twitter, former Republican Ethics Czar for George W. Bush, Richard Painter, explained that it’s an example of Trump lying to the federal government, a breach of 18 U.S.C 1001. “Yet another felony,” said Painter.

National security lawyer Mark Zaid said that Trump’s “awareness” of the classification process goes to Trump’s state of mind, “which is what criminal cases are generally about.”

Mark Zaid’s remarks:

Speaking to MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, Zaid explained that the case has never been about the mishandling of national defense information or classified documents. It’s about the Espionage Act. Mishandling classified information is a fairly frequent occurrence, he said, noting that he wouldn’t be surprised if every president since Reagan (and likely before that) had done it.

….What’s at issue here is that, as you reported and CNN had reported, Trump and his inner circle were told how to properly classify and declassify information. And I will say even further, because I independently verified it, that they were instructed in the days and weeks before leaving the White House for the transition on how to pack up the documents so as not to take classified information.”

He pointed to the obstruction piece of the case as being another problem for Trump. If leaks are to be believed, Zaid said, “Trump not only mishandled the information but also sought to hide it from the U.S. government and obstruct the investigation by deliberately acting on that, as well as giving instructions to others possibly, even his lawyers, as to where to move the documents around Mar-a-Lago.”

This seems like a BFD.

There’s unsettling news about Jack Teixeira today. He’s the airman from Massachusetts who stole massive amounts classified information and leaked it online.

From the NYT article by Glenn Thrush and Robin Stein:

Air Force officials caught Airman Jack Teixeira taking notes and conducting deep-dive searches for classified material months before he was charged with leaking a vast trove of government secrets, but did not remove him from his job, according to a Justice Department filing on Wednesday.

On two occasions in September and October 2022, Airman Teixeira’s superiors in the Massachusetts Air National Guard admonished him after reports that he had taken “concerning actions” while handling classified information. Those included stuffing a note into his pocket after reviewing secret information inside his unit, according to a court filing ahead of a hearing before a federal magistrate judge in Worcester, Mass., on Friday to determine whether he should be released on bail.

Airman Teixeira — who until March shared secrets with scores of online friends from around the world on Discord, a social media platform popular with gamers — “was instructed to no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information,” lawyers with the department’s national security division wrote in an 11-page memo arguing for his indefinite detention.

The airman’s superiors also ordered him to “cease and desist on any deep dives into classified intelligence information,” although it is not clear how, or if, they enforced that directive.

The new information was intended to drive home the government’s argument that Airman Teixeira’s relentless quest for intelligence to share with online friends — which he acknowledged to be improper — makes his release a danger to national security. But it also raised troubling new questions about whether the military missed opportunities to stop or limit one of the most damaging intelligence leaks in recent history.

The signs that something was amiss seem unmistakable in retrospect. In late January, a master sergeant who was working at the Air Force base on Cape Cod in Massachusetts observed Airman Teixeira inappropriately accessing reports on the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System, the Pentagon’s secure intranet system, the memo said.

“Teixeira had been previously been notified to focus on his own career duties and not to seek out intelligence products,” one of his superiors wrote in a memo on Feb. 4 that prosecutors included in their filing.

Not only was Airman Teixeira allowed to remain in his job — he seems to have retained his top-secret security clearance — but he was subsequently given the second of two certificates after completing training intended to prevent the “unauthorized disclosure” of classified information.

Two of Teixeira’s bosses have been suspended and have lost their security clearances.

More from Devlin Barrett at The Washington Post. Again, the purpose of the filing is the argument from federal prosecutors that Teixeira should not be released on bond.

The Air National Guard member accused in a high-profile classified leaks case appears to have shared sensitive secrets with foreign nationals and had raised concernamong his co-workers in the months before he was charged with mishandling and disseminating national security information, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday….

One of the groups where he shared information had upward of 150 users, officials said, and among the members “are a number of individuals who represented that they resided in other countries” and whose accounts trace back to foreign internet addresses.

Teixeira’s “willful transmission of classified information over an extended period to more than 150 users worldwide” undermines his lawyer’s claims that he never meant for the information to be shared widely, prosecutors wrote….

The new filing also recounts online chats in which Teixeira appears to both brag about how much classified information he knows and has shared, and understand the potential legal consequences of such actions.

“Knowing what happens more than pretty much anyone is cool,” the airman allegedly wrote in a chat dated mid-November. When another user suggested he write a blog about the information, Teixeira replied, “making a blog would be the equivalent of what chelsea manning did,” referring to a major classified leak case in 2010.

The filing also shows that Teixeira was written up by colleagues for apparently not following rules for the use of classified systems. A Sept. 15 Air Force memorandum included in the newly released court materialsnotes that Teixiera “had been observed taking notes on classified intelligence information” inside a room specifically designed to handle sensitive classified material.

That is covered in the NYT article.

This morning, Jim Jordan is holding another one of his ridiculous “weaponization of government” hearings. He has finally revealed the identity of some of his secret “whistleblowers.” The New York Times published information on today’s expected witnesses. The gist: these whistleblowers either participated in or supported Trump’s January 6, 2021 coup attempt.

From the NYT story by Alan Feuer: F.B.I. Revokes Security Clearances of 3 Agents Over Jan. 6 Issues.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has revoked the security clearances of three agents who either took part in the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, or later expressed views about it that placed into question their “allegiance to the United States,” the bureau said on Wednesday in a letter to congressional investigators.

The letter, written by a top official at the F.B.I., came one day before at least two of the agents — Marcus Allen and Stephen Friend — were set to testify in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee investigating what Republicans contend is the “weaponization” of the federal government against conservatives.

For several months, Republican lawmakers have been courting F.B.I. agents who they believe support their contentions that the bureau and other federal agencies have been turned against former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters both before and after the Capitol attack.

Some of the agents have come forward as self-described whistle-blowers and taken steps like writing a letter to the leaders of the F.B.I. complaining about ways in which the bureau has discriminated against conservatives.

The agents who had their security clearances revoked — Mr. Allen, Mr. Friend and a third man, Brett Gloss — have all been suspended by the F.B.I. as the bureau reviews their cases, according to congressional investigators.

Why were these agents suspended?

Mr. Gloss’s top-secret clearance was revoked two weeks ago after bureau investigators determined that while moving with the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, he entered a restricted area of the Capitol grounds — a violation of federal law….

Mr. Allen’s top-secret security clearance was revoked after the bureau found that he had “expressed sympathy for persons or organizations that advocate, threaten or use force or violence,” the letter said. F.B.I. investigators determined that Mr. Allen had sent an email from his bureau account to several colleagues months after the Capitol attack, urging them to “exercise extreme caution and discretion in pursuit of any investigative inquiries or leads pertaining to the events of” Jan. 6, the letter said….

Mr. Friend, whose security clearance was revoked on Tuesday, had refused last summer to take part in a SWAT arrest of a Jan. 6 suspect who was facing misdemeanor charges. Mr. Friend had taken the position that the raid represented an excessive use of force.

“I have an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Mr. Friend, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, told his supervisors when he declined to join the operation on Aug. 24 in Jacksonville, Fla. “I have a moral objection and want to be considered a conscientious objector.”

More interesting stories to check out:

NBC News: New House bill would block pay for members of Congress if the U.S. defaults.

The Washington Post: School librarians face a new penalty in the banned-book wars: Prison.

The Daily Beast: PEN America And Penguin Sue Over Florida’s Book Bans.

AP News: Trust in Supreme Court fell to lowest point in 50 years after abortion decision, poll shows.

Guest essay by Randal D. Eliason at The New York Times: Why the Supreme Court Is Blind to Its Own Corruption.

The Daily Beast: GOP Congressman [Clay Higgins] Manhandles Protester During Boebert Event.

Politico: Trump 2020 lawyer indicated he may be target of Fulton County probe, court docs say.

That’s it for me. What stories have captured your interest today.

13 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • darthvelma says:

      Jim “sexual assault enabler” Jordan is actively involved in weaponizing government to take away my right to control my body. He can take his bullshit fake hearing and shove it up his ass. Sideways.

  2. All I can say is finally…

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • dakinikat says:

      She really needs to retire for her legacy and her health too. I would like to know what is stopping her from doing so?

    • NW Luna says:

      Those complications are unfortunately all too usual with severe cases of herpes zoster. Not sure how specific the medical info should be when released to the public.

      Everybody, get your shingles vaccine (Shingrix) if you haven’t already!

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      What a bully. Charge him with assault and then send him back to kindergarten.

  6. quixote says:

    1) The Cheeto-topped Dump can never be rich enough, in his own mind.

    2) Sources and spies for the US disappeared at an accelerated rate in the second half of the Dump’s term.

    3) The man is pure Id. He has as much concept of right, wrong, or any obligations to anyone else as a cockroach.

    Everybody _knows_ all this. So (screaming DUH here) the classified docs were part of his retirement piggy bank. He was selling information as he went along. That’s been proven several times over by dead and disappeared foreign agents. Why do we need to continually go through this massive assumed naivete that he couldn’t possibly have meant any harm? Hello? Look at the consequences?!

    (And the same goes for the $100,000,000 or so he was planning to harvest from pardons, that we just found out about.)

    • quixote says:

      (I mean, yes, sure, the legal beagles have to prove it. But do they really have to keep pretending, outside of court, that nobody could possibly know what his state of mind is? When he keeps telling us??)