Posted: October 8, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: caturday, Donald Trump | Tags: Christopher Kise, Crimea, DOJ, fake heiress, Inna Yashchyshyn, John Solomon, Mar-a-Lago, National Archives, Russia, Russia investigation, special master, Trump stolen documents, Trump Tower, Ukraine, Valeriy Tarasenko |
By Emanuele Cavalli (1904-1981)
Even though we are heading into a 3-day weekend, there is a surprising amount of news today. I’m going to focus on the following stories: Ukraine’s destruction of a bridge that is vital to Russian supply routes; New developments in the Trump stolen documents saga; and someshocking news on that Russian-speaking Ukrainian woman who infiltrated Mar-a-Lago awhile back.
Ukraine War News
CNN: Massive blast cripples parts of Crimea-Russia bridge, in blow to Putin’s war effort.
In a major blow for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a huge explosion has severely damaged the only bridge connecting the annexed Crimean peninsula with the Russian mainland, paralyzing a key supply route for Moscow’s faltering war in Ukraine.
The blast early Saturday caused parts of the Kerch Strait road and rail bridge – opened by Putin himself in 2018 – to collapse, images and video from the scene showed. At least three people were killed in the explosion, Russian officials said, citing preliminary information.
The exact cause of the blast at Europe’s longest bridge is yet to be confirmed. Russian officials said a truck exploded, causing Crimea-bound sections ofthe bridge’s road portion to collapse. A subsequent fire engulfed a train of fuel tanks on a separate, adjacent rail portion of the bridge.
Putin ordered a “government commission” to examine the Kerch bridge “emergency” in Crimea, Russian state media TASS reported.
An official in Crimea blamed “Ukrainian vandals” for the explosion. Some Ukrainian officials gloated over the incident without directly claiming responsibility – even announcing commemorative stamps will be made. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “the reaction of the Kyiv regime to the destruction of civilian infrastructure testifies to its terrorist nature.”
On the strategic importance of the bridge:
Kees van Dongen, The Concierge de la Villa Said, 1917
The damage to the road bridge appears to be severe, with the part of the bridge that carries westbound road traffic crippled in at least two places. The damage to the rail link where fuel tanks caught fire is unclear.
The bridge is strategically important because it links Russia’s Krasnodar region with the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014 in a move condemned by the international community.
It is a critical artery for supplying Crimea with both its daily needs and supplies for the military. Over the last few months, dozens of Russian military convoys have used the bridge, carrying vehicles, armor and fuel.
If the Russian military can’t use the bridge, its supply lines to forces in southern Ukraine would become more tenuous, especially when combined with Ukrainian advances southwards into Kherson region, north of Crimea.
Trump Stolen Documents News
Rolling Stone: Justice Department Asking if Trump Stashed Documents in Trump Tower.
FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS HAVE asked multiple witnesses if they knew whether Donald Trump had stashed any highly sensitive government documents at Trump Tower in Manhattan or at his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey, a person familiar with the matter and another source briefed on the situation tell Rolling Stone.
The FBI, according to these sources, had also asked in recent months whether the ex-president had a habit of transporting classified documents from his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to the other Trump properties. The feds specifically discussed both the New York City and Bedminster locations with certain witnesses.
“It was obvious they wanted to know if this went beyond just Mar-a-Lago,” the first source says….
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department informed Trump’s legal team it believes the former president may have taken more documents than the ones the FBI returned to the National Archives after its August Mar-a-Lago search. Trump attorney Christopher Kise reportedly suggested that the former president voluntarily conduct a search for any further missing documents at another unnamed Trump property, according to the Times.
The FBI has been quietly interviewing a number of former Trump associates as part of its inquiry into his retention of classified documents….
The increased law enforcement scrutiny since the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago has prompted Trump to wonder aloud who in his circle could be helping the Justice Department’s investigation. In exchange with associates, Trump has asked whether anyone in MAGA world could be “wearing a wire” or if his phones are “tapped.” In private, associates of the former president told Rolling Stone that Trump remains focused on getting back “all” of the documents — even classified ones — taken by the FBI back, referring to them as “mine.”
Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt at The New York Times: How Trump Deflected Demands for Documents, Enmeshing Aides.
Late last year, as the National Archives ratcheted up the pressure on former President Donald J. Trump to return boxes of records he had taken from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago club, he came up with an idea to resolve the looming showdown: cut a deal.
By Li Gui Jun
Mr. Trump, still determined to show he had been wronged by the F.B.I. investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, was angry with the National Archives and Records Administration for its unwillingness to hand over a batch of sensitive documents that he thought proved his claims.
In exchange for those documents, Mr. Trump told advisers, he would return to the National Archives the boxes of material he had taken to Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Mr. Trump’s aides never pursued the idea. But the episode is one in a series that demonstrates how Mr. Trump spent a year and a half deflecting, delaying and sometimes leading aides to dissemble when it came to demands from the National Archives and ultimately the Justice Department to return the material he had taken, interviews and documents show.
That pattern was strikingly similar to how Mr. Trump confronted inquiries into his conduct while in office: entertain or promote outlandish ideas, eschew the advice of lawyers and mislead them, then push lawyers and aides to impede investigators.
In the process, some of his lawyers have increased their own legal exposure and had to hire lawyers themselves. And Mr. Trump has ended up in the middle of an investigation into his handling of the documents that has led the Justice Department to seek evidence of obstruction.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Mike Levine and Kathrine Faulders at ABC News: On Trump’s last day in office, why were sensitive documents allegedly in such disarray?
At the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, his team returned a large batch of classified FBI documents and other government records to the Justice Department in such disarray that a year later — in a letter to lawmakers — the department said it still couldn’t tell which of the documents were the classified ones.
The documents came from the FBI’s controversial probe in 2016 looking at alleged links between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump tried to make the documents public the night before he left office, issuing a “declassification” memo and secretly meeting with conservative writer John Solomon, who was allowed to review the documents, Solomon told ABC News this past week.
‘Tiptoes the Mischievous Kitten’, illustrated by P. B. Hickling
But for reasons that are still not clear – and to the great frustration of Trump and his political allies – none of the documents were ever officially released, and the Justice Department said Thursday it’s still working to determine which documents can be disclosed….
Much of what happened with the documents in those last days of the Trump administration — and ever since — remains shrouded in mystery because current and former government officials involved have refused to speak about it, especially now that the FBI is pursuing its investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of a separate cache of classified documents.
The story that still emerges, though, from pieces of public statements and Solomon’s own accounts is one that sheds further light on how Trump’s White House treated certain government secrets. And it helps explain how – in the midst of the FBI probe – Solomon became one of Trump’s official “representatives” to the National Archives.
There’s much more at the ABC link.
Yahoo News: A rift has opened in Trump’s legal team, with a lawyer frozen out for wanting to cooperate with the DOJ: NYT.
A rift has opened in Donald Trump’s legal team over how to respond to Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, The New York Times reported.
According to the Times, the rift was prompted by the Department of Justice telling Trump’s team it believes he still possesses government records, even after the FBI raid in August which seized hundreds of files from his home.
Two sources told The Times that attorney Christopher Kise put himself at odds wth Trump by advocating creating a “forensics team” of independent investigators to meticulously inspect whether Trump has any further records.
Per The Times, Trump was initially open to the idea, the report said, but was later persuaded by other attorneys to take a more aggressive approach, leading to Kise being sidelined.
Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: Donald Trump seeks to withhold two folders seized at Mar-a-Lago.
Donald Trump is seeking to withhold from the justice department two folders marked as containing correspondence with the National Archives and signing sheets that the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort, according to court filings in the special master review of the confiscated documents.
The former US president’s privilege assertions over the folders, which appear to have direct relevance to the criminal investigation into whether he retained national defense information and obstructed justice, are significant as they represent an effort to exclude the items from the inquiry and keep them confidential.
Barbara Perrine Chu, Woman with Two Cats
Most notably, Trump asserted privilege over the contents of one red folder marked as containing “NARA letters and other copies” and a second, manilla folder marked as containing “NARA letters one top sheet + 3 signing sheets”, a review of the court filings indicated.
The former president also asserted privilege over 35 pages of documents titled “The President’s Calls” that included the presidential seal in the upper left corner and contained handwritten names, numbers, notes about messages and four blank pages of miscellaneous notes, the filings showed.
Trump additionally also did the same over an unsigned 2017 letter concerning former special counsel Robert Mueller, pages of an email about election fraud lawsuits in Fulton County, Georgia, and deliberations about clemency to a certain “MB”, Ted Suhl and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.
The documents the former president is attempting to withhold from the criminal investigation by asserting some sort of privilege – it was not clear whether he asserted executive or attorney-client privilege over the two folders, for instance – became clear after a Friday ruling by the special master.
Lowell figured out which documents Trump was claiming privilege on by comparing the document numbers in the latest filing with another filing that was briefly unsealed and obtained by Zoe Tillman of Bloomberg News.
News Related to Mysterious Woman Who Infiltrated Mar-a-Lago
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Valeriy Tarasenko, associate of fake heiress who wandered Mar-a-Lago and posed with Donald Trump, shot outside Canadian resort.
A close associate of a woman who posed as a member of a famous banking family and spent days at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was shot Friday in a brazen attack outside a lakeside resort northwest of Montreal, the Canadian paper LaPresse reported.
Quebec provincial police have launched a search for the shooter and other accomplices behind the midday shooting of Valeriy Tarasenko, 44, in the upscale community of Esterel, according to LaPresse. Police said he suffered “significant injuries” but was expected to survive.
Mr. Tarasenko was a former business partner of Inna Yashchyshyn, a Russian-speaking Ukrainian immigrant who gained recent notoriety after an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in August revealed that she masqueraded as a member of the Rothschild family and went to Mar-a-Lago, where she made inroads in the former president’s inner circle.
In prior interviews with the Post-Gazette, Mr. Tarasenko said that he met with the FBI and turned over a host of documents and photos tied to an investigation into Ms. Yashchyshyn, her trips to the former president’s estate, and businesses she formed – two with Mr. Tarasenko – over the past seven years.
A bit more:
By Holly Warburton
Quebec police said they were trying to “shed some light on the circumstances that led to the injuries of the victim.” But for now, “to protect the investigation, no other detail can be shared.”
Mr. Tarasenko, who was born in Ukraine and raised in Moscow, told the Post-Gazette and OCCRP that he had hired Ms. Yaschyshyn in 2014 to live in his Midtown Miami condo and watch his two daughters while he traveled on business.
But over the past year, the pair had a falling out, with Mr. Tarasenko accusing Ms. Yashchyshyn of abusing his children — allegations that she has vehemently denied.
The shooting is expected to widen the ongoing FBI investigation that includes several interviews with witnesses about a highly suspicious Miami charity, United Hearts of Mercy.
This seems like a significant story that isn’t getting that much attention in the U.S. media yet. Here are a two Canadian articles–rendered in English by Google Translate–and another at The New York Post.
Le Devoir: A man with a troubled past targeted by an armed attack in Estérel.
Radio Canada: One person injured in shooting at Estérel
The New York Post: Fake Ukrainian heiress: ‘My ex-lover forced me to become Anna de Rothschild’
Could this have anything to do with the stolen documents?
What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following today?
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
Posted: September 3, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: cat art, caturday, Crime, Donald Trump | Tags: basement storage room, Bill Barr, classified documents, empty folders, FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Mark Meadows, special master |
Cat and kitten, by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1920
Yesterday we got new information about the highly classified documents Trump stole from the government and carelessly left lying around his office at Mar-a-Lago. In her Friday post, Dakinikat wrote about the empty folders marked classified and the boxes containing classified documents mixed with news clippings, and personal items like clothing. The inventory from the search also shows thousands of unclassified government documents, which also belong in the National Archives.
From The Los Angeles Times: Trump search inventory shows empty folders marked ‘classified,’ mixed top-secret and unclassified items.
Twenty-seven documents with classified and top-secret markings were recovered from former President Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to a detailed inventory of what the FBI removed during its court-approved search of the home last month.
The eight-page inventory detailing more than 10,000 government documents removed in the search includes the location where each item was found and whether it was classified, but not the subject matter. In many cases, highly classified materials are listed as having been stored in the same boxes as hundreds of unclassified items, including newspaper and magazine clippings and clothing.
Among the boxes were 48 empty folders marked with a classified banner. Those empty folders could be of particular concern as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence assesses the risks to national security that could result from disclosure of the contents, because it could be difficult to determine what information might have been inside and where it is now….
FBI agents removed more than 100 documents containing classified information — including some marked top secret and meant to be available only in special government facilities — from the Trump estate during their Aug. 8 search, along with over 30 boxes of materials including thousands of government records.
What was in those empty folders?
Identifying what was in the empty folders marked classified and where the information is now should be a priority, said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“Why are there folders that contained classified information that are now empty? Where are the documents?” Maloney said. “Those questions need to be answered.”
Still LIfe with Flowers and cats, Paul Gauguin, 1899
Without knowing more about the folders, it is difficult to say how alarmed intelligence officials might be, Maloney said.
They could be the type of generic folders in which confidential information is transported within the White House, or they could be folders from intelligence agencies that provide details about the sources of the information, the date it was collected and broad descriptions of what it is about, said Larry Pfeiffer, a high-ranking CIA officer in the George W. Bush administration and senior director of the White House Situation Room in the Obama administration.
“If there were any meticulous records that were kept by the staff secretary, executive secretary or the [director of national intelligence’s] presidential daily briefing staff, they may be able forensically to figure out if there are any missing documents,” Pfeiffer said.
That 48 classified documents could be missing is the “worst-case scenario,” he said.
“That’s terrifying, because then what happened to them? Where are they? Are they still hidden somewhere? Are they hidden in another Trump location? Did he give them away to some people as souvenirs? God knows,” Pfeiffer said.
Raw Story reported on what experts are saying about the empty folders: ‘Unfathomably dangerous’: Former federal prosecutor on Trump’s empty folders warns ‘things just went from bad to worse’
Immediately after a federal judge released the Dept. of Justice’s detailed list of items the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago experts agreed among the most concerning details was that there were a large number of empty folders marked “Classified.”
Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor of 30 years, tweeted out his surprise and concern.
“OMG!” exclaimed Kirschner, who is also an MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. “Court just released an inventory of evidence of crime seized at Mar-a-Lago.”
“Dozens of EMPTY folders labeled ‘Classified’ or ‘Return to Military Aide.’ Trump didn’t pack up EMPTY folders to take with him to FLA. Things just went from bad to worse to unfathomably dangerous.” [….]
Andrew Weissmann, a former General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has also worked as chief of the criminal fraud section of DOJ observed: “It’s the empty classified folders that are of most concern.”
“Where are the contents? Trump has not addressed that at all in all his bluster and obfuscation. What were you doing with these?” asked Weissmann, who also worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller….
National security attorney Brad Moss wrote, “Very first question the FBI would ask the person who had in their home office 43 empty folders with classified banners is ‘where did the documents from those folders go????'”
And later he added: “Why. Are. There. Empty. Folders?”
Young Girl with a Cat 1892, Berthe Morissot
Analysis from Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: What we know about Trump and the empty folders.
We know very little about what this [the empty folders] means right now, though, and experts say it doesn’t necessarily mean the documents are missing, as some Trump critics theorized. What it does seem to reinforce is how sloppily classified information was handled.
In both the search warrant affidavit released last week and a Justice Department filing in a court case this week, the government has pointed to a February referral from the National Archives. The referral raised concerns about Trump’s potential mishandling of sensitive documents and urged an investigation.
“Of most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly [sic] identified,” the National Archives said.
The biggest question is obviously: Why were those folders empty? Since classified documents were previously returned “unfoldered” — and others were recovered in the search last month — and now we have classified-marked folders without documents in them, it’s possible they match up.
Whether they actually do match is another matter, as is whether the documents can even be traced to a given folder.
From a national security expert:
David Priess, a former CIA officer whose work there included delivering the President’s Daily Brief, said Friday that the presence of empty folders doesn’t mean documents are missing, but also that it’s possible we won’t know for sure. He said the folders could contain markings allowing them to be traced to specific documents (but that’s not certain), or that they could be connected using forensic techniques.
“We cannot rule out that those empty folders contained classified documents that were not discovered in the search and seizure,” he said. “We just don’t know. That’s much harder to determine.”
He also noted it was possible that the folders were separated from the documents when they were still in the White House, before they were taken to Mar-a-Lago.
But mostly, he said, it’s further evidence of something we already knew: The documents were haphazardly stored.
There’s more analysis at the WaPo link.
Family Portrait, Carl Kahler
It’s not just the documents that were found in Trump’s office that were mishandled. The Washington Post published a long read yesterday on the storage room where boxes of documents were stored and why Mar-a-Lago was such a dangerous place for government documents to be kept: Deep inside busy Mar-a-Lago, a storage room where secrets were stashed. The storage room is below the estate’s giant living room.
It was dug into the foundations of the early 20th-century building not long after Trump bought the place, a former employee said, carved out to create more space to store tables, chairs, umbrellas — the stuff necessary to complete Trump’s conversion of what had once been a grand residence for a single family into a private club for 500 members.
At the southeast corner of this area, behind a simple door, is a large closet-type space that workers once called “the mold room” in honor of leftover stonework molds deposited in the corner, the former employee said. Today, staffers think of the room more like the former president’s personal closet, one said. It is here, in this windowless nook, where some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets allegedly were stashed….
Court filings say a top Justice Department official and a gaggle of FBI agents were allowed to tour the storage room when they visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3 to pick up classified documents collected by Trump’s lawyers in response to a grand jury subpoena. A lawyer for Trump saidthe room was where they would find all of documents that had been carted from the White House to Florida after Trump left office.
Two months later, agents returned with a court-approved search warrant and carted off more than two dozen boxes of documents and assorted other items gathered from the storage room and the former president’s office. The raid exposed anew the potential risks of keeping highly sensitive material at a club that hosts weddings, galas and other large events, where outsiders are common and many employees — as well as some visitors — are foreign nationals.
Not yet clear is why Trump chose the basement storage room to keep highly sensitive documents nor who exactly had access to the documents kept there — or who could have gotten access had they tried….
People close to Trump said a variety of Mar-a-Lago and Trump staffers had access to that area beneath the public living room. Access to the closet where the documents were kept was more restricted, they said.
John White Alexander, The Green Dress, 1890-99
More on security concerns at Mar-a-Lago:
Experts said security at the Spanish-style club has long been a headache. The facility has served a frequent residence for Trump and his family during the winter months, including while he was president. But it also boasts tennis courts, a dining room, two pools, a spa and beachfront facilities, all open to its members and their guests. Its giant ballroom and other larger areas are frequently booked for large parties and political and charitable fundraisers, all open to even more visitors, some of them foreign nationals.
Since Trump left office, Republican candidates also have flocked to the club for official events, to genuflect to Trump and attempt to secure his endorsement. Political donors have flocked, too. People who have visited the club since Trump left office said they were allowed in without so much as an identification check.
“I think Mar-a-Lago is a counterintelligence nightmare,” said Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence under the director of National Intelligence and former inspector general for the National Security Agency, citing the flow of hundreds of people, the presence of foreign nationals and Trump’s long-established carelessness with national secrets.
A person who is familiar with the club’s workings and spoke on the condition of anonymity described regular movement from club facilities to the basement and back. “This is an operating property,” this person said. “There’s a kitchen and a guy who does pastries and a liquor cabinet. There’s a restaurant here. You see activity. A guy getting vodka to bring to the bar. A person going to get cupcakes to bring upstairs.”
As I said, this is a very long, but interesting article.
Two more developments on the purloined documents story:
Bill Barr spoke out on the stolen documents investigation. The New York Times: Barr Dismisses Trump’s Request for a Special Master.
Former Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed former President Donald J. Trump’s call for an independent review of materials seized from his Florida home on Friday — and said an inventory of items recovered in the search last month seemed to support the Justice Department’s claim that it was needed to safeguard national security.
“As more information comes out, the actions of the department look more understandable,” Mr. Barr told The New York Times in a phone interview, speaking of the decision by the current attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, to seek a search warrant of the complex at Mar-a-Lago.
“It seems to me they were driven by concern about highly sensitive information being strewn all over a country club, and it was taking them almost two years to get it back,” said Mr. Barr, who resigned in December 2020, as Mr. Trump pushed him to support false claims that the election had been stolen.
“It appears that there’s been a lot of jerking around of the government,” he added. “I’m not sure the department could have gotten it back without taking action.”
Asked what he thought of the argument for the appointment of a special master, an independent arbiter to review the material that could delay the investigation, Mr. Barr laughed.
Pierre Bonnard, Children and a Cat, 1909
“I think it’s a crock of shit,” he said, adding, “I don’t think a special master is called for.” [….]
Mr. Barr’s comments, which echo the assessment of many Democrats and a few Republicans, including the former Bush adviser Karl Rove, came as Mr. Trump’s supporters tried to downplay the importance of the inventory unsealed by a federal judge in Florida.
The eight-page document, which was made public with the tacit assent of the former president’s lawyers, revealed that the F.B.I. recovered 11,179 documents or photographs without classification markings belonging to the government, and more than 100 others marked top secret, secret or confidential.
“It’s hard to wrap your head around him taking so much sensitive materials,” Mr. Barr said. “I was, let’s just say, surprised.”
Mark Meadows coughed up some records in the wake of the events at Mar-a-Lago. CNN: After Mar-a-Lago search, Meadows turns over more texts and emails to Archives.
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
Posted: September 1, 2022 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: Donald Trump, morning reads | Tags: Alina Habba, Department of Justice, Espionage Act, highly classified documents, Judge Aileen Cannon, special master, state secrets, Trump lawyers, Trump passports |
As I was starting my day, I discovered that my internet was down. It finally came back, and I’ve been belatedly looking around at the latest news. Every day it gets crazier and crazier. Why did I ever think we could be rid of Trump if he lost the 2020 election? Fat chance. Will he ever go away? Maybe if he finally goes to prison or dies of old age. In the meantime, we’re stuck with a dangerous high profile lunatic who may have the ability to destroy not only our democracy, but also our national security.
How many of those top secret documents did Trump read or share with visitors to his office–where documents were stored in boxes and even in his desk?! What if he decides to reveal government secrets on Truth Social or in TV interviews? Some Democrats are worried he could do something that insane.
The Daily Beast: Dem Lawmakers Grow Concerned Trump May Spill State Secrets.
The damning photograph that the Department of Justice released Tuesday night, showing classified documents spread out across the carpeted floor at Mar-a-Lago, confirmed that former President Donald Trump had kept records related to intercepted communications—possibly involving secret spy satellites or surveillance aircraft.
And the sensitive nature of those secrets, coupled with Trump’s particularly unhinged behavior in recent days, has many Democratic lawmakers nervous.
In the photo released late Tuesday, some of the documents were labeled “TOP SECRET.” Others were just “SECRET.” But either way, the White House memos cautioned that they should severely limit access to details contained within. Some of the documents can be seen with the “NOFORN” marking, indicating that no foreign nationals should ever lay eyes on them.
All of the visible cover sheets warned that the contents were “HSC-P/SI/TK,” meant to signify that the secrets they held inside were strictly controlled, clandestinely captured, and involving possible aerial reconnaissance, respectively.
Adding to the chaos, in the hours before and after that DOJ disclosure, Trump showed himself to be increasingly volatile, taking to his own social media app to share bizarre conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden’s laptop, Q-Anon cult material, and assert that the records he had are, in fact, no longer restricted.
“Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!” Trump’s personal account posted Wednesday morning.
The implied threat is that he could, if he so desired, reveal them at any time….
“I would not leave it beyond him to do something as insane as that. When someone is cornered, they make very bad decisions, and Donald Trump is in a very bad situation right now. We don’t know what he will do,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
Read remarks from several other Congresspeople at the link. Just a bit more:
The damage assessment currently underway by the office of Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines will take into account what could happen if these secrets were exposed. And the FBI has seized surveillance video footage from Mar-a-Lago that might show who handled those records without permission this past summer.
But Trump continues to rage-post online, which is why Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) warned that the threat is ongoing.
“Here’s what makes it truly scary: Trump is weirdly attached to all of this ‘Top Secret’ information, he constantly throws tantrums, and he has an insatiable desire for attention including on social media,” Huffman said. “Since he no longer has White House china to smash, his next tantrum might be blurting out sensitive national secrets on Truth Social, or calling his pal [Vladimir] Putin to divulge or even sell information. With anyone else these would seem like crazy scenarios, but not with Trump.”
From Andrew Feinberg at The Independent: ‘We’re gonna blind ourselves’: Ex-intel officials say Trump’s document hoarding could ruin years of work.
Former president Donald Trump’s hoarding of highly classified national defence information at the Palm Beach, Florida, home could bring about a level of damage to US intelligence operations not seen in decades, according to current and former intelligence community officials and experts who spoke to The Independent.
A Tuesday court filing from the Department of Justice laid out just how many documents containing America’s most sensitive secrets were recovered from the ex-president over the last nine months.
More than 100 “unique documents with classification markings” were seized from his Mar-a-Lago club during an 8 August search by FBI agents, including three stored in Mr Trump’s desk. Classification levels ranged from confidential — the lowest level of classification in the US system — to the highest, top secret.
The department also said “certain documents” found at Mr Trump’s property bore markings denoting them as containing “sensitive compartmented information”, a designation reserved for extremely closely held secrets often involving intelligence sources and methods or nuclear weapons. Those 100 joined another 38 documents which FBI agents recovered from Mr Trump’s counsel during a 3 June meeting at Mar-a-Lago, plus another 184 documents which National Archives and Records Administration officials brought back from Florida in a set of 15 boxes Mr Trump allowed them to retrieve in January.
What national security experts told The Independent:
The experts who spoke with The Independent have decades of combined experience dealing with the most sensitive information, ranging from battlefield intelligence meant to disrupt terrorism networks to human intelligence gathered from clandestine assets and the highly technical signals intelligence collected by the National Security Agency.
All of them expressed fears that Mr Trump’s retention of such closely held secrets in a notoriously insecure facility — and one that has long been known to be a target of foreign intelligence services — will lead the US government to undertake what will be a unilateral degradation of American intelligence capabilities, on the assumption that whatever programs described in the papers stored at Mar-a-Lago may already have been or will soon be compromised.
David Priess, a former CIA intelligence officer who delivered daily intelligence briefings to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller and other top officials during the George W Bush administration, told The Intependent in a phone interview that it’s possible that some programmes that may be compromised by Mr Trump’s retention of documents in such a public place could still be salvaged if the documents in question are not specific as to intelligence sources or methods….
“It’s likely that some of the information is going to lead to some at least some serious investigation and possibly some actual shutdowns of some collection,” he said.
Another former CIA analyst, who asked for anonymity because they now hold another sensitive position in the US government, said Mr Trump’s retention of documents pertaining to “HUMINT” — human intelligence that is often gathered with the aid of sources recruited in hostile countries over a period of years — could lead intelligence officials to pull the plug on long-running operations and possibly could force them to mount operations to extract operatives or assets to safety.
“There’s a good chance someone at Langley is now trying to figure out how to exfiltrate some very helpful folks from very unfriendly places,” they said.
Feinberg notes that this already happened in 2017, when Trump blabbed about a secret operation to Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office.
Meanwhile, Trump’s incompetent lawyers are blabbing scary stuff. Alina Habba, who previously represented a parking garage company, thinks violating the espionage act is a “mundane” crime.
And she says that she has been in Trump’s office–where he was storing top secret documents in his desk and in boxes, and so have lots of other visitors.
Today at 1PM, Judge Aileen Cannon will hold a hearing on whether she should appoint a “special master” to examine the documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago. Tierney Sneed at CNN: What to watch for at Thursday’s hearing in Trump’s bid for a special master over documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.
After an explosive court brief and picture of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, the Justice Department will argue in court Thursday against a request by former President Donald Trump that a so-called special master be appointed in to review the evidence the FBI seized at his Florida resort last month.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon will be considering whether to bring in third party oversight of the Justice Department, in which an outside attorney would in theory identify and filter out evidence that should be withheld from investigators because it was privileged.
Arguing it is unnecessary, prosecutors in court filings Tuesday night provided new details about its investigation into whether classified government documents were illegally mishandled. Lawyers for the former president, who filed a lawsuit last week seeking the appointment, meanwhile argued in a Wednesday night court filing that the Justice Department could not be trusted, as Trump claimed the search itself was unjustified.
Cannon previously signaled an inclination toward granting Trump’s request, but that was before the Justice Department’s dramatic filing this week.
Sneed lists the following questions to watch for (Read details at the CNN link):
— How sharply does DOJ go after Trump’s spin?
— How are the dynamics on Trump team playing out?
— Does the judge recalibrate her approach?
— If the judge grants the special master review, what does it look like?
As you know, over the past two days, first the DOJ and then Trump lawyers turned in filings with their arguments about Trump’s request for a special master. The DOJ strongly opposed the request in a longer than usual argument (35 pages) on Tuesday; Trump’s team responded with their arguments in favor yesterday. Today journalists are reporting new insights into the two opposing filings.
Two more relevant reads:
Barbara McQuade at The Daily Beast: Are Trump’s Passports the FBI’s Smoking Gun?
According to DOJ’s recent brief, classified documents in that office were “commingled” in a desk drawer with three passports. While the government did not disclose the name on the passports, Trump himself has complained that during the search, the FBI “stole” his three passports. It seems a safe bet that the passports DOJ recovered were Trump’s.
The significance of the passports is enormous. As DOJ explained in an understated footnote, “The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information.”
In other words, the presence of the passports in the same drawer as the classified records tends to tie the unauthorized possession of these documents to Trump himself. A photo included with the filing shows the items that were recovered from his office. Among the classification markings on the documents are “Top Secret,” meaning that the disclosure of the material could cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.
A routine practice in drafting search warrants is to include a request to seize identity documents that can connect the subject of the investigation with the premises. That helps to make the evidentiary tie between the person and any contraband that might be found at the location. For example, if searching for illegal drugs in a house where multiple people come and go, agents will seek authority to seize identity documents like a driver’s license, photographs or other personal possessions located in the same room as the contraband. Finding both of these items together tends to connect the person to the contraband. Here, the presence of Trump’s passports alongside the classified documents supports an inference that he himself possessed the classified documents.
To the extent Trump may be inclined to pin all blame on his lawyer who signed a document in June attesting that all of the classified documents had been returned, the documents in his personal desk drawer are a problem for him. The former president would need to explain away the notion that he himself possessed these documents long after the government asked for their return, and despite personal assurances from Trump when Counterintelligence Section Chief Jay Bratt visited Mar-a-Lago in June to inspect the storage of documents. At the time, Trump told Bratt, “Whatever you need, just let us know.”
The former president’s continued retention of the documents, even after the repeated requests to return them, suggests a willful violation of the law.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
The Washington Post: Justice filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say.
Newly public details from the Justice Department’s criminal probe of documents taken to Mar-a-Lago suggest enormous legal peril for two of Donald Trump’s attorneys — and considerable uncertainty for Trump himself, intelligence and legal expertssaid.
There’s no way to predict whether the Justice Department will ultimately pursue charges against the former president or his associates. But in a court filing Tuesday night, government lawyers recounted numerous instances in which Trump’s lawyers allegedly misled government officials during the investigation, and in which Trump or his team appear to have haphazardly handled materials that contained national security secrets.
The evidence laid out in the filing, experts said, could build a legal case that Trump attorneys Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb obstructed the government’s investigation, allegedly telling FBI agents and prosecutors that they had handed over all classified documents when in fact many remained in Trump’s possession.
Left unanswered were key questions that could determine Trump’s legal fate: Did he direct Corcoran and Bobb to mislead the government, either before or after the FBI raid of his Florida home and club?
And, if so, why did he want to keep reams of top-secret classified documents there?
“It’s bad,” said Peter Lapp, a former FBI agent who worked on espionage cases and is now a private consultant. “It’s all pretty damning.”
Read the rest at the WaPo.
I’ll end there. I’ll be hanging out on Twitter to watch for reports from Judge Cannon’s courtroom. I hope there will be a quick resolution. If she does favor a special master, I wonder if the DOJ will appeal? What do you think? What other stories are you following?
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends: