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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: mar a lago raid

No Comparison: The Biden And Trump Classified Documents Cases

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I’m getting a creepy feeling this subject is going to be talked about all year and into the next, making it prime meat as a campaign issue against President Joe Biden if he decides to run for reelection. And there is more: Be forewarned that the fairness doctrine doesn’t apply in politics.

Today, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee wrote to the White House and asked for the visitor logs for Biden’s house in Wilmington, Delaware. "Without a list of individuals who have visited his residence, the American people will never know who had access to these highly sensitive documents," Rep. James Comer (R-KY) wrote to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Take a deep breath before you read the next sentence. No, the House Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee didn’t send an equivalent letter to former president Donald Trump, asking for visitor logs for Mar-a-Lago. Can you imagine? They would have to send a box truck for the Mar-a-Lago logs, with all the weddings and fund raisers and Christmas and New Years celebrations held there every year.

As the New York Times proved in an excellent interactive photo piece a couple of months ago, there were not one, but two entrances to the Mar-a-Lago ballroom that had direct access to the stairway above it, at the top of which was Trump’s office, from which many of the most sensitive classified documents were recovered by the FBI during their August search of the property. There would also have to be a list of the many, many employees of caterers and staff of Mar-a-Lago who had access not only to the ballroom, but to the storage room in the basement where the chairs for events in the ballroom were stored. As we know, Trump kept classified documents in the basement storage room where there was no lock until the Department of Justice demanded that one be installed in June of last year.

Asked on a CNN Sunday morning show why he hadn’t requested visitor logs from Trump for his club/hotel/residence, Mar-a-Lago, Comer replied, "I don't feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time because the Democrats have done that for the past six years.”

So, there you have it: This is the way what must now be referred to as the Trump/Biden classified documents cases will play out between now and November of 2024. Remember all the excuses the Trump people and Republicans made for the presence of hundreds of classified documents recovered by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago? Oh, the documents ended up there because of the chaotic packing-up of Trump’s White House in the final days before January 20, 2021. It’s just a simple disagreement with the National Archives. Trump wasn’t aware of what was down there in some musty storage room in Mar-a-Lago! That was handled by underlings.

And of course, they argued that everybody did it, meaning that every president accidentally took classified documents from the White House when they left office.

That one stings a little, given the recent drip-drip-drip of stories about classified documents turning up in Biden’s garage (locked, he pointed out the other day) stored alongside his vintage Corvette.

James Sauber, one of the White House counsels, announced last week that “a small number” of classified documents had been found among Biden’s papers at the Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington. Then more classified documents were found at Biden’s home in Delaware. On Saturday, the White House said that five more pages of classified documents were found at Biden’s Delaware residence. In each case, the documents were reported to the National Archives (NARA), which sent people to retrieve them.

I hardly have to remind you what happened in the case of the Trump documents, but here it goes: NARA began to seek documents it thought had been taken by Trump from the White House back in mid-2021. Trump stiff-armed them until the NARA officials informed his lawyers that the agency was turning the case over to the Department of Justice. Suddenly, in January of 2022, Trump turned over 13 boxes of documents to the NARA, which found classified documents among them.

The DOJ stayed involved and sent a subpoena for classified documents to Trump in May. Trump’s lawyers responded in June, turning over an envelope containing several classified documents to representatives of the DOJ at that time. They also had one of Trump’s lawyers – who worked for his Super PAC – sign a statement saying the documents were recovered during a diligent search of Mar-a-Lago. It didn’t amount to a sworn statement that they had turned over all the classified documents Trump had, but it was close.

The DOJ developed information, apparently from employees in Mar-a-Lago, that there were more documents stored there, and in August executed a search warrant. They recovered 13,000 more documents from the basement storage room. Among those and other documents from Trump’s office were 113 more classified documents. The DOJ started calling Trump employees before a Washington D.C. grand jury. It turned out that several of those employees had lawyers paid for by organizations run by Trump, such as his Super PAC. Several of the Trump employees took the Fifth Amendment during their grand jury testimony.

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, who was serving as a war crimes prosecutor at the Court of International Justice at the Hague, as special prosecutor. He took over the documents investigation and has issued new subpoenas for more testimony about the documents case, as well as the investigation of Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Now a second special prosecutor, Robert Hur, has been appointed to investigate the Biden classified documents. Biden’s lawyers have announced that they are fully cooperating with the investigation. In contrast, Trump filed suit in a Florida federal court last year to stop the use of the classified documents in the DOJ investigation, delaying the investigation for several months while the case wound its way not once, but twice, through the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Finally, the 11th Circuit threw out Trump’s lawsuit. The “special master” process that had been ordered to go through all 13,000 of the seized documents was ended and the documents – all of them, classified and unclassified – were returned to the DOJ for their investigation.

So, you get the picture: Trump took thousands of documents from the White House on purpose and fought tooth and nail for two years to keep them and to stymie both the NARA and the DOJ. Biden took a small number of classified documents with him when he left the vice presidency – we don’t know the number, but it’s more than ten – and immediately turned them over to the National Archives and is cooperating with the DOJ and the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case.

You can depend on House Republicans to continue to make a big deal about the Biden classified documents while pooh-poohing what Trump did. What else is new? It’s who they are, and it’s who Trump is, but it’s going to be a pain in the collective ass of the Democratic Party. House Republicans are writing letters and making requests now, but they will follow up with subpoenas – the same kind of subpoenas that multiple Trump witnesses either avoided or completely refused to comply with – Hi, Steve Bannon! – and we’ll hear about every single one of them, no matter what they end up proving – Hi! Benghazi Committee!

I hate to say this but watch this space. We’re only halfway through January. It’s promising to be a very, very long year.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Will New Special Counsel Make Indictment Of Trump 'Much Easier'?

Legal experts are weighing in after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday afternoon he has appointed Andrew Hur as special counsel to review President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, a small number of which were found in his Pennsylvania office and Delaware home from his time as Vice President.

Last month Garland, after more than 500 days into the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents, appointed Jack Smith as special counsel to investigate the ex-president. Both special counsels are former Trump appointees.

Republicans have been attacking President Biden, despite aides immediately contacting DOJ and the National Archives to return the documents, which are believed to have been misplaced. In stark contrast, Donald Trump or his aides are believed to have been responsible for the packing for transport of hundreds of classified documents from the White House to an unsecured area of his Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump himself reportedly personally packed boxes of classified documents after the National Archives demanded their return, but did not send all of them back.

Noted national security attorney Brad Moss on Thursday said, “I have no issue with Garland appointing a Special Counsel here regarding the Biden documents. I think it’s pointless [Hur will still report to Garland in the end] but the politics of the moment require it. It changes nothing in terms of my legal analysis of liability.”

On Wednesday Moss had said about the Trump versus Biden classified documents issues, “Objective legal analysts have spent six months making clear that criminal liability for Trump exists only because of his obstruction. Absent that, DOJ wouldn’t bother prosecuting an accidental mishandling case here.”

“Nothing I have seen has changed my mind yet that Biden and his team, for now at least, are not at risk of criminal exposure,” he also said Wednesday. “Nor do I have any reason to believe this changes the calculus on an indictment of Trump. That said, this sloppiness by Biden’s staff angers me.”

“I still don’t view it as a criminal issue,” he added.

Former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade said on MSNBC just after Garland’s announcement that she believes the appointment of a special counsel makes it “more likely” that Trump will be prosecuted in the classified documents case.

On Wednesday McQuade told The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell, “Cases typically are charged criminally only when an aggravating factor is present… difference with Trump is that two of the four are met, and that is willful violation and obstruction.”

“The two factors that are present for Trump do not appear to be present in the Biden case… these cases are very different,” she added.

Former FBI Special Counsel Andrew Weissmann, who spent two decades at DOJ, appears to agree with the other experts.

“Appointment of Hur makes it much easier for Jack Smith to bring Trump MAL docs charges,” Weissman tweeted. “Gives DOJ the necessary reality and appearance of balance and fairness.”

“Even after AG Garland’s announcement still no facts from which to think anything Biden did was with knowledge and intent,” he also said.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Right-Wing Media Promote Lies, Conspiracies About Documents Found At Biden Office

Right-wing media are disingenuously comparing the recent discovery of classified documents among President Joe Biden’s vice presidential papers at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement — a Washington, D.C., nonprofit think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania — versus the ongoing scandal involving disgraced former President Donald Trump’s refusal to cooperate in returning classified documents he’d kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

CBS News broke the story Monday, reporting that Biden’s personal attorneys discovered the documents while they were preparing to move out of office space at the Penn Biden Center in November 2022. The White House counsel’s office immediately notified the National Archives, and Biden’s attorneys have cooperated with the government on searching for and returning materials.

NBC News reported Wednesday that Biden aides have “discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents” in a separate location as they continue what was described as an “exhaustive” search for items that belong at the National Archives.

By contrast, the scandal involving Trump's mishandling of government records first exploded into public view in February 2022, after reports surfaced that the National Archives had recovered 15 boxes of materials from his private residence in Florida, including classified records. (At the time, the Trump team’s absurd excuse for mishandling government records was that they were accidentally packed away amid Trump’s failed coup and hasty transition out of office.)

When even more classified documents were later recovered during an FBI search of Trump’s home in August 2022, the public learned that he and his legal team had refused to cooperate in returning the documents for months, and had only partially relented after a monthslong legal fight with the National Archives that necessitated a federal subpoena.

Before the FBI search of his home, Trump’s legal team falsely asserted to federal authorities that they had returned all the materials sought by the Department of Justice. Trump then variously switched his story to claim that he had actually declassified the materials before removing them, or to claim that he was allowed to retain them because they were his personal records and not government property. Trump also threatened more violence from his supporters if he got into legal trouble.

Contrary to Trump’s sound and fury, Biden has publicly said he was “surprised” to learn of the story about documents stored in his former office, and that his attorneys “did what they should have done” in returning the documents promptly.

Right-wing media are completely ignoring these crucial distinctions in their rush to exaggerate Biden’s situation as being tantamount to Trump’s scandal. On the one hand is Trump’s clear evasion and refusal to cooperate with government requests to turn over official documents, which were illegally removed from the White House after Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the 2020 election and remain in office, compared to the Penn Biden Center taking it upon itself to notify the government and fully cooperate in returning documents that ought to have remained in federal custody.

These false comparisons seem to have multiple purposes. The first one is to muddy the waters on the investigation into Trump’s noncompliance with federal records laws. (CNN’s reaction to the Biden news initially fell for this line of thinking, though the network’s coverage has since improved somewhat.) In addition, right-wing media are trying to insist that despite his own team’s full cooperation, Biden really did commit some crime worthy of a serious criminal investigation, similar to the Trump case, or even impeachment by the newly Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And still others are pushing conspiracy theories that because Chinese donors have given money to the University of Pennsylvania, this would somehow give Chinese agents direct access to stored materials at the Penn Biden Center.

Comparisons to Trump Investigation

  • Fox News host Sean Hannity compared the mainstream media reaction to the Biden news with reactions to the Trump investigation: “The hysteria, well, it was as usual with anything Donald Trump, and the media mob, it was through the roof. Let’s see if they’ll apply this to Biden.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/9/23]
  • Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett claimed, “They don’t know what they’re talking about, but this certainly blows a hole in any ability of Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to go after Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents,” adding, “No, his name’s Donald Trump so we’re going to go after him with a vengeance and threaten him with crimes.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/9/23]
  • Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee sarcastically remarked about a potential raid on Biden’s office similar to what was done to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence: “Well, of course they’ll be treated the same. You and I both expect that, right?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/10/23]
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short explained the distinction that Trump’s legal team had not cooperated with the Justice Department, but still complained of a “double standard” by the government in the Biden case. Fox Business correspondent Jackie DeAngelis then falsely claimed without missing a beat that “the current sitting president when he was vice president did something very similar” as Trump. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Steve Doocy dismissed the “details are different in sheer numbers and stuff like that,” saying, “Nonetheless, when you have these kind of documents, just one counts. So it’s like, you know, people said, ‘Oh, he had 300, Biden only had 10.’ It just takes one.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News correspondent Alexandria Hoff compared Biden’s reaction to the discovery that Trump was sitting on hundreds of documents to the reaction of the documents in his office, “The president had been far more outspoken when it came to his predecessor’s possession of classified documents, which led to the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz asked, “Why aren’t they raiding the Penn Center? If there were classified documents there, do we know that they’ve got all of them? We just assume and take their word of somebody else?” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro claimed what Biden did was worse than Trump because Mar-a-Lago was more secure: “At least Mar-a-Lago was protected by the Secret Service. This is Penn. This is an academic institution.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson dismissed comparisons to Trump’s case, even as he apparently acknowledged the relative egregiousness of Trump’s behavior: “If you walk into a courtroom and you are trying to defend your client for robbery, you can’t say, ‘Well, the guy in the next courtroom over is convicted of two murders or accused of two murders so my guy isn’t so bad.’” [Fox News, Special Report, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing activist Mike Davis claimed that “President Trump had the absolute constitutional power under the commander-in-chief clause and the absolute statutory power under the Presidential Records Act to take — to declassify and take records,” before asking, “What are they doing about then-Vice President Joe Biden, who had no power to take these records? This is a clear violation of the Espionage Act for then-former Vice President Joe Biden to have these records.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/10/23]
  • Fox’s The Ingraham Angle ran the chyron: “Double standard emerges in Biden doc scandal.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News legal contributor Jonathan Turley: “So there’s a lot of questions there. But at the end of the day, the same underlying crime exists, even if there are differences in aspects of the case.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/10/23]
  • On Twitter, Hannity posted: “WHEN’S THE FBI RAID? Trump, Conservatives Unload Over Classified Docs Found at Biden Think Tank” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing strategist Chuck Castillo: “They found Classified Docs at BIDEN’S OFFICE from when JOE was VP... Joe DID NOT HAVE legal authority to un-classify anything as VP.. This was KNOWN prior to MIDTERMS and possibly before TRUMP’S FBI RAID... Let that SINK IN for a few minutes.” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Dan Bongino: “Another massive Biden scandal erupts, as the media moved quickly into cover-up mode.” [Telegram, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera: “Biden’s own document embarrassment should just give DOJ more reason to drop probe of Trump’s documents. Neither had criminal intent. Why bother with bullshit?” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “So Biden’s lawyers ‘found’ the records with classified markings while ‘packing’ his records in preparation for an office move from Biden’s influence-peddling operation run through University of Pennsylvania? Interesting, I didn’t know legal services could include office movers.” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Washington Post columnist Hugh Hewitt, attacking a Politico article on the Biden White House’s cooperation: “Classic left-wing media spin: Article doesn’t even ask the most obvious question: Why wasn’t Biden case assigned to Special Counsel Jack Smith? It’s the same set of laws AND both subjects (Trump and Biden).” Previously, Hewitt argued in a September 2022 interview with Trump that every former president “has papers that should not be with them by accident,” only for Trump to continue to dispute the fact that he shouldn’t have possessed the materials. [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell: “Attention, CNN and MSNBC. Are you going to report on the undisputed fact that Joe Biden has classified documents in his possession?” [Twitter, 1/10/23]

Calls for Biden to be investigated, impeached, or arrested


  • Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller told Fox’s Laura Ingraham, “You need to appoint a special counsel to find out not only what is going on with these documents, but to look at every single residence, property, and office under Biden’s control to determine what other classified documents he has purloined in violation of federal law.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/9/23]
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh made a call for action in retaliation for the treatment of Trump: “We’ve got to call for investigations. We need to think about impeachment. This is, like, we have to treat it like a crisis because that’s what the left did. And we’re going to hold them to their own standard.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 1/10/23]
  • Mike Davis called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action, saying he “must appoint a special counsel to investigate this just like he did with President Trump. It is a more blatant conflict of interest for Garland to investigate this with his boss being Biden.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/10/23]
  • The Gateway Pundit ran the headline: “‘When is the FBI Going to Raid the fMany Homes of Joe Biden?’ Trump Responds to Reports of Classified Documents Found at Penn Biden Center” [The Gateway Pundit, 1/9/23]
  • Judicial Watch: “RETWEET if you think Congress should investigate Biden family corruption!” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza: “In one sentence, can anyone explain why Trump’s retention of classified documents constitutes a serious crime, if not outright treason, which should bar Trump forever from holding public office, while Biden’s retention of classified documents is benign and without consequence?” [Twitter, 1/10/23]

Conspiracy theories that the Biden documents are connected to the Chinese Communist Party

  • Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested that documents at the Penn Biden Center were exposed to Chinese donors, saying, “Penn, as an institution, takes an awful lot of money from the Chinese Communist Party. I am not making that up. In recent years, Penn has received more than $50 million from anonymous Chinese donors. So the question is: Were those donors peering at the classified documents, the national security secrets, that Joe Biden had been stashing at the fake think tank that Penn set up for him?” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/9/23]
  • Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon claimed that “the Chinese Communist Party financed the whole thing,” including “the whole University of Pennsylvania deal,” adding that the CCP “has bought and paid the Biden administration.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Greg Gutfeld fearmongered about Biden selling nuclear secrets to China: “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t raise the important questions that need to be raised about what actually happened. Do we know that there aren’t nuclear secrets in there? Perhaps he exchanged nuclear secrets to China for the 10%, that’s a question worth raising.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Jesse Watters claimed, “They opened the Biden Center with Chinese money. He announces he’s doing the Biden Center at UPenn. And all of a sudden, China quadruples their donations to the University of Pennsylvania.” He then fearmongered, “In terms of national security implications here, where do you think the Chinese have greater access? To a think tank 15 minutes’ bike ride from the Chinese Embassy … or a basement at Mar-a-Lago.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/10/23]
  • Watters pushed the conspiracy again during his monologue: “The Chinese were paying Joe Biden a million dollars a year and it was just laundered through the Penn Biden Center. And just five miles away from the center was the Chinese Embassy.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/10/23]
  • Carlson again pushed the conspiracy theory, saying, “There was a lot of money being raised and it was being raised by the University of Pennsylvania and it was being raised from foreign governments after the Biden Center opened. See the connection here?” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/10/23]
  • New York Post columnist Miranda Devine said the university’s “long, incestuous symbiotic relationship with the Bidens” resulted in attracting “a lot of Chinese money.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Sean Hannity baselessly claimed, “Now to put it simply, thanks to Joe Biden, America’s most sensitive secrets were floating around in an unsecured office that was bought and paid for by the CCP.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing TV host Benny Johnson: “Tucker Carlson just nuked Joe Biden from space for hoarding classified documents in his ‘fake thinktank’ -- potentially for the Chinese donors of UPenn to see. Was Joe Biden selling American National Security to the Chinese Donors in his fake think tank? Like father like son.” [Twitter, 1/9/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Justice Is Coming For Trump As Select Panel Prepares Criminal Referrals

Please consider becoming a paid subscriber to my Substack and support my years-long, almost daily effort to bring this asshole to justice.

Cover your ears. The squawking and whining and lying and pissing and moaning is going to be deafening come Monday. That’s when the House Select Committee has scheduled a vote on whether to make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice about crimes Donald Trump may have committed concerning the assault on the Capitol on that infamous day nearly two years ago.

The vote is a foregone conclusion. At least one committee member, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), openly discussed at committee hearings Trump’s culpability in obstructing the official business of the Congress when it certified the presidential election of 2020. There was also talk from several committee members that Trump may have engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

Now the New York Times and Politico are reporting that the committee may vote to refer charges against Trump for insurrection. Here is the language of the relevant 18 U.S. Code 2383: Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? On Friday night MSNBC had a legal expert on the air who referred to Trump’s reported statement backstage at his rally on the morning of January 6, telling his Secret Service detail to “let my people in” after he was informed that there were people in the crowd outside the gates to the Ellipse site who were armed.

Cassidy Hutchinson testified under oath to the select committee that she heard Trump tell the Secret Service, “I don’t fuckin’ care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fuckin’ mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.” Trump’s reference to “mags” was to magnetometers, or metal detectors, which were being used to screen the crowd allowed into the fenced area for the rally on the Ellipse. Trump’s statement, “They can march to the Capitol from here,” appeared to refer to the armed people in the crowd that had gathered to hear his speech on the Ellipse. That would appear to satisfy the language of the statute regarding “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists…or gives aid or comfort thereto” persons “engag[ing] in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof,” wouldn’t you say?

Of course, Special Counsel Jack Smith is not obligated to follow the criminal referral of a committee of the Congress. But he already appears to have ideas of his own about his task in investigating the former president. Smith is said to be considering charges against Trump for mishandling classified and non-classified national defense information when he removed nearly 22,000 documents from the White House and took them to Mar a Lago in January of 2021. Hundreds of those documents were classified, some with the highest classifications the intelligence community can award to national security secrets.

But crimes Smith is said to be investigating need not involve just classified documents. National security information, classified or non-classified, is covered by the statute equally.

Smith is also known to be aggressively pursuing crimes Trump may have committed by conspiring with others to create fake slates of electors and use them to interfere with the certification of electoral ballots on January 6. He has issued subpoenas and taken testimony from two of Trump’s White House counsels and several of his top aides, most recently Stephen Miller. Smith has issued a subpoena to Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, whom Trump spoke with on a recorded telephone call on January 3, 2021, encouraging him to “find” enough votes that he would be declared winner of Georgia’s electoral ballots.

There is also the matter of Trump’s solicitation of members of the state legislatures of Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, when he attempted to convince them to hold special sessions and change the electoral ballots from Biden to Trump so he could win those states. Trump hosted two groups of state legislators at the White House as part of this attempt and spoke to numerous others on conference calls. Special Counsel Smith has subpoenaed officials, including members of the legislatures, of all seven battleground states Trump lost and then proceeded to attempt to get the legislatures to flip their state electoral votes from Biden to himself.

CNN reported this week that Smith is “moving fast on a pair of criminal probes around Donald Trump that in recent months have focused on the former president’s state of mind after the 2020 election, including what he knew about plans to impede the transfer of power.” With the flurry of grand jury subpoenas the Special Counsel has issued and the testimony under oath before the grand jury he has taken recently, it would appear that he isn’t wasting any time. He has also made new hires to his staff of prosecutors engaged in the investigation. CNN reports that Smith already has a staff with twice the number of Mueller’s investigators, and the DOJ prosecutors on the documents case and Trump’s efforts to overturn the election are moving their offices so they can come under his command.

At least two former DOJ prosecutors have left other jobs to take positions on Smith’s staff, according to multiple reports in the newspapers and on cable networks. Legal experts have pointed out that they are not the kind of lawyers who would quit their work in private practice merely to involve themselves in an investigation that isn’t going somewhere.

Donald Trump hasn’t had a very good December at all, with the possible exception of his quite successful Trump trading cards sale on Thursday which reportedly made him some $4.5 million.

January is looking like it’s going to be much, much worse for the photoshopped superhero. He’s going to need to sell one hell of a lot more trading cards if he’s going to hire the kinds of lawyers he’ll need when Smith weighs in. The MAGA minions had better start gargling with salt water right now, for all the shrieking and wailing they’ll be called upon to do next month.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which these columns are reprinted with permission.

Facing Fresh Contempt Citation, Trump's Lawyers Need Still More Lawyers

This is my umpteenth-plus column about Donald Trump flipping off the rule of law. and the American way To support this coverage of his misdeeds, please consider becoming a paid Substack subscriber.

Remember Christina Bobb? She is number four of Trump’s lawyers, or maybe she was number five? I guess she could have been the sixth lawyer -- who had to go online, that is, and google “lawyers who are willing to represent other lawyers who work for or have worked for Donald Trump” so she could somehow come up with a lawyer of her own to start the long process of building a defense for why she signed a document on June 3 of this year attesting that all of the classified documents Trump had taken with him to Mar-a-Lago from the White House had been returned previously or were being handed over to a representative of the Department of Justice that day.

Poor thing. A former host on the former far-right OAN network, and by now well on her way to becoming a former lawyer of Donald Trump as well, Bobb signed the declaration because another of Trump’s lawyers, Boris Epshteyn had called her the night before and asked her to show up at Mar-a-Lago along with yet another Trump lawyer, one Evan Corcoran, to meet with the lawyers for the DOJ who were there to pick up documents that were responsive to a subpoena the DOJ had served on Trump a week or so before. Bobb would later tell the FBI that she didn’t know Evan Corcoran, had never met him, and in fact was working for Trump as an adviser to Trump’s super PAC…one of them, anyway...and not on the documents case.

So, let’s review: We’ve got Donald Trump, the man who stole the documents, all 22,000 of them it would turn out, who is also owner of Mar-a-Lago where all the documents stolen from the White House were kept. We’ve got the disgusting election denier Boris Epshteyn.. And we’ve got Evan Corcoran, who was actually representing Trump in the matter of the stolen documents. We’ll call Corcoran the third man, the one designated by men numbers one and two, to turn to Bobb, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the stolen documents, and hand her a piece of paper saying that she had suddenly been appointed “custodian of records” for the Trump office, and tell her to sign it.

Bobb – we’ll call her the first woman – demanded to read the document, which as it turned out, certified that a diligent search had been done of the boxes “moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago,” and that all the documents called for in the DOJ subpoena had been turned over. Bobb, as first woman, apparently smelled something fishy, and right then and there demanded that a disclaimer be added to the official statement saying that the certification was based on information that had been given to her by others, the others being men numbers one, two, and three.

That’s a lot of lawyers who find themselves in legal jeopardy because the Washington Post is reporting that the same DOJ that issued the subpoena for the classified documents at Mar a Lago, the same DOJ that would later in August conduct a search of the resort/hotel/residence owned by Donald Trump, the same DOJ that would discover no less than 103 additional folders of classified documents that were not among those covered by the certification signed by Bobb, witnessed by Corcoran, overseen by Epshteyn, and ultimately ordered by Donald Trump – yes, that the by-now-familiar DOJ has asked a federal judge in Washington D.C. to hold the Trump office in contempt of court for failing to comply in a timely and accurate fashion to that good old subpoena that was issued to Trump way back in May of this year.

FINALLY, you may be saying to yourself. And I would agree. Trump was asked by the National Archives for the documents he stole from the White House way back in 2021, and he stalled. He stalled and stalled until the National Archives said they were turning things over to the DOJ, and then in January of this year, Trump returned more than 20 boxes of documents to the National Archives and told them that was it. That was all he had.

The DOJ had evidence that wasn’t, in fact, it, so they issued the May subpoena, they conducted the August FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, they recovered the 103 extra folders of very highly classified documents, some of which were discovered by the FBI inside a leather box in Trump’s own desk, and then this week, two more classified documents turned up when still more lawyers for Trump, who must now be joining the lengthening queue at the internet site “lawyers who are willing to represent other lawyers who work for or have worked for Donald Trump,” found them during a search of – get this – a storage facility in West Palm Beach, Florida where they reportedly were among coats of armor and other presidential memorabilia, you know, because as president you are given a lot of stuff like coats of armor and classified documents, and you have to find someplace to store them.

Well, don’t you?

Inquiring minds are asking, among many, many other questions, how is Donald Trump going to find anyone at all willing to represent him now that Special Counsel Jack Smith has taken over the Trump investigation and is handing out new subpoenas to new people, who will be trying to find lawyers to represent them, and petitioning courts for contempt citations, and going through all 22,000 documents that have been released to his office now that the whole "special master" scam has been shut down.

Maybe some enterprising young lawyer who just passed the bar down in Florida will rent an office in a mini-mall in West Palm Beach and hang out an enterprising shingle: “Law firm willing to represent other lawyers who work for or have worked for Donald Trump.”

Talk about a booming business. That young lawyer will be driving a Ferrari by New Year's.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Trump's Latest Outburst Against The Constitution Stinks Of Fear

I monitor and analyze Donald Trump's ongoing assault on our democracy, among other salient topics. To continue following my peregrinations as I cover this miscreant, please consider becoming a paid Substack subscriber and help me find my way.

You have no doubt heard by now that over the weekend, on his Truth Social network, Donald Trump called for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” because he lost the election for president. He wants to be declared the “RIGHTFUL WINNER,” or “have a NEW ELECTION.” The all-caps are his, and of course what Trump is calling for is a coup. To “terminate” the Constitution would be to overthrow the laws and the government of the United States and replace the whole thing with a dictator, namely, himself.

For all the things that he isn’t, Donald Trump is a politician, and he can not only read the polls, he has shown he’s pretty good at reading the electorate, a different thing entirely from polls, which are a stilted snapshot of opinion among voters at a single instant in time. Trump doesn’t want to run for president again, because he lost the last time, and he’s looking around, and he’s afraid he’ll lose again. That’s what the Saturday eruption on his social network was about: fear. He’s becoming increasingly irrelevant, and for Donald Trump, that is a fate worse than death. He realizes after two years out of office that you can still be famous and yet slip into a state where your fame and even your presence on earth begins to cease to matter.

Who does Trump matter to at this point? He matters to Republican voters, who political experts are beginning to slice and dice into MAGA, MAGA-adjacent, old establishment, and never-Trumpers. But his voters didn’t do so wonderfully in the midterms, a fact that has doubtlessly not gone unnoticed by the man who endorsed so many of the Republican Party’s losers. The headlines are about Gov. Ron DeSantis and the street-fight over who will be the next Speaker of the House and the war in Ukraine and China’s continuing struggle with the disease that was spawned within its borders. Could Trump be feeling just a tad left out of the national conversation?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, to see what bothers the Prisoner of Mar-a-Lago as he finds himself in mid-fade from relevance. He is sufficiently bored down there in his gilded cage that he invited two Nazi sympathizers to dinner recently, apparently figuring that would get himself some attention. It did, of course, and it was exactly the kind he wanted, because it lit a tiny fire under the collective ass of the Washington press corps, sending them to their phones and even into the halls of the Congress to ask every elected official they could find what they thought of Trump dining with Nazis. Trump is ever in the mode that he began in 50 years ago in New York City, that any publicity is good publicity. If the question on everybody’s mind is Trump and his favorite Nazis, well, at least they’re spelling his name right.

Lately, Trump has found himself mattering a whole lot to some powerful judges who he appointed to their seats but who have ruled against him repeatedly in his flailing lawsuits trying to stop the DOJ investigation of the various crimes he has been accused of committing – trying to overthrow the last election, inciting the assault on the Capitol, and his theft and mishandling of classified documents after he left office. Trump has lost one appeal after another, and now “his” special master, appointed by “his” Judge Aileen Cannon, is being dismissed, and everything seized at Mar-a-Lago by the FBI has been returned to the man who now oversees the prosecution, Jack Smith, a name that’s got to be keeping him up at night.

And Trump seems to matter a whole lot to Elon Musk, who has been doing everything he can think of to get him back on Twitter, including hiring a prominent contrarian journalist to exhume the Hunter Biden laptop story from the vaults of Twitter and splash it across the platform in a long series of tweets that had to have caught Trump’s attention.

In fact, most stories about Trump’s demand that the Constitution be terminated say the Hunter Biden laptop story was what was behind his explosion on Truth Social yesterday. I think that’s less likely than Trump’s panic as the jaws of law enforcement close on him. After all, he sees getting back into the White House as the only way he could avoid jail: he could pardon himself.

My first thought when I decided to write this column was to title it, “There ought to be a law,” you know, against this kind of shit. But there shouldn’t be. There can’t be, because it would violate the very Constitution we’re trying to protect from the likes of Trump. Besides, the anti-war movement back in the 60’s and 70’s was guilty, if that’s the right word, of calling for the downfall of the government because of the crimes the United States was committing in Southeast Asia. I recall a lot of “there ought to be a law” talk back then about the calls of the Left for the overthrow of the government, and it was all from the Right, from Nixon’s people, the apologists for the war.

As outrageous as Trump’s anti-democratic talk is, it’s legal. Calling for a violent overthrow of the government is, however sedition, the crime two leaders of the Oath Keepers were convicted of this week. Trump may be a seditionist in his heart, but he’s carefully not one in his public words.

I think maybe the way to react to Trump’s latest attack on our democracy is to recognize how desperate and afraid he is. That someone would be calling for the destruction of something, a constitutional government in this case, at the same time he is calling for himself to be installed as its leader, is absurd on its face. He’s yelling into the void at this point, but if there is a lesson to be learned from the last six years, we ignore the unhinged cries of this monster at our peril. He sounds weak and pathetic, which he is, but he’s still a danger to the Republic. The Oath Keepers haven’t gone away, the Proud Boys haven’t gone away, and his MAGA hordes are always listening.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Trump: I'll Have The Loser Combo Plate And A Diet Coke, Please

What follows is my umpteenth-plus report on the Trump stolen documents case. To continue following my peregrinations through the courts covering this nonsense, please consider becoming a paid Substack subscriber and help me find my way.

This is what it sounds like when a Circuit Court of Appeals slams the door on you: “The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.”

The decision that came down on Thursday night against Donald Trump by the 11th Circuit was unanimous. Before the court’s recent decisions against him, Trump would have described the two judges on the panel he had appointed to the bench as “mine,” the same way he described as “mine” the hundreds of classified documents he had squirreled away in a dank basement of Mar-a-Lago and in a drawer of his own desk. In its 21-page decision, the 11th Circuit all but told him, no they’re not, and no we’re not.

I’ve been down the various rabbit holes the DOJ and the 11th Circuit have wandered through because a single federal judge in Florida, the execrable Eileen Cannon, took it upon herself to step out of her judicial robes and take on what is constitutionally the job of the executive branch, namely, making decisions about whether to undertake an investigation of a citizen for committing a federal crime. Cannon figured she knew better than the attorney general of the United States, whose job it is to investigate federal crimes, so she threw a series of roadblocks in front of the Department of Justice, which was attempting to determine why in God’s name Donald Trump had taken some 22,000 documents owned by the federal government to his home and office in Palm Beach, Florida, and what he did with them.

Judge Cannon put a hold on the DOJ’s use of the documents, all 22,000 of them, as evidence in its investigation, and turned them over to a special master in Brooklyn, of all places, to review the whole lot of them to see if any were subject to either attorney-client or executive privilege protections.

The DOJ quickly got the 11th Circuit to step in and remove from the special master review the hundreds of classified documents found in the possession of the former president by pointing out the obvious: They have markings on them bearing several levels of classification by the federal government which clearly labeled them as property of the government. The DOJ’s second appeal, asking that the entire process of the special master review be halted and all of the documents returned to its investigation, is the one which the 11th Circuit ruled on Thursday night. To put it mildly, it wasn’t a good night for Judge Cannon. The 11th Circuit found she lacked jurisdiction and basically said that her entire “theory of the case” was laughable on its face.

Trump has already been to the Supreme Court once, asking that they overrule the 11th Circuit’s first decision on the classified documents. The Supreme Court refused to hear that appeal with no dissents, strongly indicating that it will do the same thing again if Trump appeals the circuit court's latest decision.

It's been quite a month for the former president. “His” election-denying candidates, almost every one of them, lost their races for various offices around the land on Election Day. Later in November, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a former U. S. attorney, Jack Smith, as special counsel to run both investigations of Trump – one into his attempts to overturn the election of 2020 and his incitement of the attack on the Capitol, and the other into his theft and mishandling of classified documents after he left office. Smith has been serving as chief prosecutor at the International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands. The prospect of having Jack Smith look into the crimes he is alleged to have committed is not a welcome one for the former president.

And then last week, Trump decided he would invite a notorious anti-semite and apologist for Adolph Hitler over for dinner at his club in Palm Beach. His dinner guest, the rapper and former multi-billionaire Ye, brought along a friend of his, Nick Fuentes, another notorious anti-semite, Holocaust denier, and admirer of Hitler. Fuentes, you will recall, was one of those who marched around Charlottesville, Virginia back in 2017, carrying tiki torches and shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

Trump was still dealing with the blow-back from that dinner when it became known that his former chief of staff, the oily and unctuous Mark Meadows, has been ordered to testify before the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, which is looking into, among other things, Trump’s phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, when he asked the man in charge of the state’s elections to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” so that he would be declared winner of the presidential election in Georgia. Meadows, it turns out, placed the phone call to the Georgia secretary of state, and once he got him on the line, handed the phone to his boss, Donald Trump. So, he was involved in the clearly illegal call (election tampering), he had obviously discussed it beforehand with Trump, and he doubtless has more to tell the Georgia grand jury than has come out so far.

Then “his” justices on the Supreme Court ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee can have access to a whole slew of Trump's tax returns that will show that he has never, ever paid any federal taxes.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the grand jury now being supervised by Jack Smith has been very busy. Former Trump aide Stephen Miller testified before that grand jury this past week – the one investigating January 6 and the efforts made by Trump to overturn the election of 2020. Later in the week, a federal judge ordered two former White House lawyers, Pat Cipollone and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, to testify before the same grand jury. Cipollone and Philbin testified in September, but refused to answer some questions, citing executive privilege. Trump sued in federal court asserting executive privilege in an attempt to prevent his two lawyers from being forced to testify and answer the questions they refused last time. The legal proceedings have gone on behind closed doors with the judge overseeing the grand jury in Washington. He has previously ordered other witnesses to testify when they tried to assert executive privilege, and it appears that is the case with these two very key witnesses.

Speaking of witnesses, we are, beginning today, witness to The Whole Thing Coming Apart at the Seams for Donald Trump. Nothing has been going right for the man. He announced his candidacy for president at mid-month in November and has not done a thing as a candidate yet. No rallies. No announcements of endorsements. No big statements on World Affairs. In fact, the only major public statement he’s made was a video he taped for something called the Patriot Freedom Project, a far-right extremist group raising money for the families of indicted and convicted 1/6 insurrectionists. “People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said in the video. “The country is going communist.”

Trump hasn’t acted like a candidate or spoken like a candidate or looked like a candidate. Oh, wait a minute. I forgot that he got on his Truth Social account one night recently and spread right-wing, white supremacist, and QAnon conspiracy theories for hours. The sole positive thing that has happened for him, if it can be called that, is having his Twitter account restored by the odious Elon Musk. That would be the social media network on which hate speech has skyrocketed since Musk took it over, according to a report in the New York Times this morning.

We have wondered for six years when something like this would happen. He’s being forced to give a deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s rape lawsuit. His closest aides are spending half their time with their own lawyers and the other half being questioned by lawyers before grand juries. A court to which he appointed two judges has ruled against him unanimously not once but twice in a case involving the search of his residence and office by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago. The search was legal, the court said. Former presidents are subject to the same laws everyone else must obey.

And Trump himself? Well, he’s out there posting hate and cozying up to Nazis and whining about being victimized as he watches the transactional sycophants in his party inch away from him not because he’s an awful person who spreads hate and tells lies and breaks the law, but because he’s a loser.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.

Latest Hearing On Stolen Documents Didn't Go Well For Trump's Lawyer

This is my umpteenth report on the Trump stolen documents case. To continue following my peregrinations through the courts covering this nonsense, consider becoming a paid subscriber and help me find my way.

In addition to losing at the Supreme Court on Tuesday in his appeal to keep his tax records out of the hands of Congress, Trump had a bad time at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, too.

Three Republican-appointed judges – two put on the bench by Trump and one by George Bush – expressed barely concealed skepticism of arguments put forth by James Trusty, the attorney for Donald Trump, who faced off against the Department of Justice in its appeal seeking to cancel the special master appointed by another Trump judge, Aileen Cannon of Florida.

The case has been dragging its way through the courts since Trump petitioned Cannon to appoint a special master to review the thousands of documents seized by the FBI last August from Trump’s residence and office at his Mar-a-Lago resort/hotel/club in Palm Beach, Florida. This is the second time the DOJ has appealed to the 11th Circuit about the matter.

In its first appeal, the DOJ sought to have 103 folders of classified documents released from the review by the special master so they could be used as evidence in its criminal investigation of the former president. The 11th Circuit granted that appeal in September. Two of the judges who heard the case today signed the decision in September – Judges Andrew L. Brasher and Britt C. Grant – in ruling unanimously against Trump. They were joined on Tuesday by the chief justice of the 11th Circuit, William H. Pryor Jr., the former attorney general of Alabama.

Trump went to court today with an argument the DOJ called “novel and erroneous” in the brief filed last week. The Trump position on the documents he removed from the White House when he left office in January of 2021 and took with him to Mar-a-Lago was that because he was president at the time when the boxes of documents were put on a truck and driven to Florida, they were ipso facto his property.

As the DOJ pointed out in its brief last week and on Tuesday during oral arguments, that argument flies in the face of the Presidential Records Act, a federal law passed by Congress after Watergate, which mandates that all documents and materials produced or used by a president while in office are the property of the government, not the individual serving as president. Perhaps realizing the ”I took them, so they’re mine” argument wasn’t holding much water, Trump’s lawyers took another slant on the case. The appointment of the special master was necessary and should be maintained, they said, because the search warrant executed in August was a “general warrant” and thus illegal.

“You didn’t establish that it was a general warrant,” Pryor told Trusty bluntly.

Judge Pryor didn’t think much of Trump’s lawyer’s arguments, and neither did the other two Trump-appointed judges, who ruled in September that Trump had failed to establish that the government had shown “callous disregard” for his constitutional rights in seeking the warrant from a federal judge and searching his home and office. The failure by the former president to prove callous disregard was “reason enough to conclude that the district court abused its discretion in exercising equitable jurisdiction here,” the 11th Circuit wrote in September.

Judge Pryor told Trump’s lawyer that he had to accept that not even Cannon had ruled that the government had shown callous disregard for Trump’s rights. “Your brief doesn’t even attempt to argue that it [callous disregard] was satisfied,” Pryor told Trusty.

Trump’s lawyers told the court that the search of Mar-a-Lago was illegal because the FBI had taken Trump’s golf shirts and a photo of Celine Dion along with the classified documents it seized in August. Pryor dismissed that argument with this: “The problem is, you know, the search warrant was for classified documents, and boxes, and other items that are intermingled with that. I don’t think it’s necessarily the fault of the government if someone has intermingled classified documents and all kinds of other personal property.”

At another point, Trump’s lawyer was cut off abruptly by Judge Grant when he called the search of Mar-a-Lago a “raid.” “Do you think a raid is the right term for the execution of a warrant?” Grant asked Trusty, who quickly apologized for using what he called “a loaded term.”

Trusty tried to argue that a search of a former president’s residence was a special case. Pryor wasn’t having that, either. “Other than the fact that this involves a former president, everything else about this … is indistinguishable,” Pryor told Trusty, referring to the search warrant. “We’ve got to be concerned about the precedent that we would create that would allow any target of offense of a federal criminal investigation to go into district court and to have a district court entertain this kind of petition…and interfere with the executive branch’s ongoing investigation,” Pryor said.

He then went even further. “If you can’t establish that it [the search] was unlawful,” Pryor said, “then what are we doing here?” Trusty replied that the former president had asked for the appointment of the special master hoping that by going through that complicated process, he could prove that the search was unlawful.

Pryor expressed amazement at the brazenness of the argument: “The end object of the search [through the records by the special master] is to establish it was an unlawful seizure?” Pryor asked Trusty. A CNN reporter who observed the arguments described the incredulity frequently expressed by the judges this way: “Pryor’s facial expressions throughout suggested exasperation with the Trump team’s arguments, as he repeatedly shook his head as Trusty attempted to answer his questions.”

Folks, it’s never a good sign when the chief judge in the court of appeals hearing your case is shaking his head in disbelief.

Stay tuned. We’ll be watching for the court’s ruling and will report on it here.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this column is reprinted with permission.