Tag: trump documents
Why Trump Should Be Very, Very Afraid Of Special Counsel Jack Smith

Why Trump Should Be Very, Very Afraid Of Special Counsel Jack Smith

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Let’s take a quick look back at the classified documents cases now afoot in the land. Back in early January, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to look into the classified documents that were found at the Biden Penn Center and in his garage at his residence in Wilmington, Delaware. The special counsel is Robert K. Hur, and he and his team have already interviewed several Biden associates about the documents, which date to his time as vice president under President Obama. All of the Biden classified documents were either turned over to the National Archives voluntarily or found by the FBI when they conducted a search of Biden’s house. The search was done without a warrant because Biden had agreed to cooperate beforehand with the FBI.

Several classified documents were also found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s house by his personal attorney. These documents were turned over voluntarily to the FBI. Then last week, the FBI found one additional classified document at Pence’s Indiana home. CNN reported that the FBI and the National Security Division of the Department of Justice have begun an investigation into how the documents ended up in Pence’s residence, who might have seen them, and whether or not national security might have been compromised by the insecure storage of the documents in a private residence. This probe by the FBI and the DOJ is not criminal in nature at this time, and Pence is cooperating with the investigation.

National security and legal experts don’t expect any charges to result from either investigation, even given the fact that a new special counsel is overseeing the Biden documents case. Biden has cooperated at all times with the FBI and the DOJ, and there is no evidence that he attempted at any time to obstruct the investigation.

That leaves us with the Trump classified documents case, a different creature altogether. As you will recall, the case resulted from Trump having taken many documents with him to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House in 2021. When the National Archives became aware that certain documents were missing from those Trump turned over when he left office – the famous “love letter” from Korean dictator Kim Jung-un was one of them – they requested that Trump turn over to the archives any documents he had withheld either purposefully or by accident. Months went by before Trump responded in January 2022 by turning over more than 100 classified documents, along with other material.

The National Archives suspected, and the FBI developed evidence, that there were more classified documents that Trump had not turned over. The DOJ issued a subpoena, and last June, several DOJ officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago and met with Christina Bobb, a lawyer then working for Trump’s Super PAC. Thirty-some classified documents were turned over to the DOJ lawyers, along with a letter certifying that a “diligent search” of Mar-a-Lago had turned up no other classified documents stored there.

The DOJ developed more evidence indicating that statement wasn’t true, and went to court and got a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. In early August of last year, the FBI conducted a search of the premises at Mar-a-Lago and turned up some 11,000 documents stored there, including 115 additional classified documents that Trump had not turned over.

A court fight initiated by Trump ensued over the documents seized by the FBI. Trump lost the lawsuit and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals returned all the documents at issue, including the more than 300 classified documents, to the DOJ, where they became evidence in a continuing criminal and national security investigation into Trump’s mishandling of the documents.

That investigation, begun by Merrick Garland and the FBI, has been turned over to Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed late last year. In January, a lawyer for Trump turned over a new classified document and a folder with classified markings to the FBI. They were found at Mar-a-Lago during a search by Trump’s lawyers that also turned up a laptop and a thumb drive, onto which were copied documents that were in the box containing the classified document and folder.

And that is where things stood until this week, when it became known that two of Trump’s lawyers were subpoenaed last month to appear before one of the two grand juries hearing criminal cases involving Trump – one overseeing the documents case, and the other overseeing the investigation into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election of 2020, including the events leading up to the insurrection at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

One of the lawyers subpoenaed was Christina Bobb, who signed the certification that the “diligent search” of Mar-a-Lago had not turned up any more classified documents than those turned over to the DOJ in June 2022. The other lawyer is Evan Corcoran, who Bobb told the DOJ had drafted the statement for her to sign, even though Corcoran did not sign it himself. Bobb appears to have given testimony to the grand jury in January that was acceptable to the DOJ, meaning she probably did not plead the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify. Because grand jury testimony is secret, there is no way to confirm this.

Corcoran, however, has turned out to be a different matter. Yesterday, lawyers for the DOJ filed a document with Judge Beryl A. Howell, the chief judge in the federal court covering the District of Columbia, seeking to invoke the “crime-fraud exception” to the attorney-client privilege which normally covers all communications between a lawyer and his or her client, in this case, Donald Trump. The “crime-fraud exception” pierces that privilege and allows prosecutors to compel the testimony of a lawyer if they believe that lawyer has been used by a client in a conspiracy to commit a crime.

The DOJ is thought to want to question Corcoran about who told him to draft the statement signed by Bobb that basically asserted that everything Trump took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, including classified documents, had been turned over in response to the DOJ subpoena. That statement was a lie, as the subsequent search of Mar-a-Lago proved.

What’s going on here? Well, the DOJ is continuing its investigation into whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice, in this case, by obstructing the investigation into his handling of the classified and non-classified documents he stored at Mar-a-Lago. The DOJ notoriously does not like it when the subject of one of its investigations tries to get others to lie for him or otherwise engage in covering up a crime.

Corcoran is in very hot water here. If he is forced to testify and he tells the grand jury that Donald Trump told him to draft the June statement and what it should say, then the DOJ has prima facie evidence that Trump obstructed justice.

One of the legal eagles interviewed on MSNBC on Tuesday night said that the DOJ – comprised of lawyers – is very reluctant to come between a lawyer and his or her client, and going for a “crime-fraud exception” to attorney-client privilege is a last resort they will take only when all other avenues of obtaining information have been stymied by a target of an investigation. Usually, the expert told MSNBC, it indicates that the DOJ is in the final stages of presenting evidence to a grand jury before asking the grand jury to issue an indictment.

Special Counsel Jack Smith has shown exactly zero reluctance to go after Donald Trump for the crimes he is suspected of having committed. That Trump mishandled national security information by storing classified documents in a non-secure facility – the Mar-a-Lago store room, his office, and, it now turns out, his bedroom at his resort, is not even in question. That he sought to delay the investigation into his handling of classified documents was established when he filed his spurious lawsuit that temporarily kept the DOJ from using the documents in their investigation.

Now the question is: Did Donald Trump use his attorneys and others in illegally obstructing the DOJ investigation? It’s pretty clear that Jack Smith is close to getting the answer to that question, and when he does, look for an indictment of Trump to soon follow.

Oh! This just in! It was revealed on Monday that the Special Counsel investigation has been broadened to include looking into Trump’s Super PAC, the Save America PAC, and how it handled the millions of dollars Trump raised after he began his allegations that the election of 2020 had been “stolen” from him. According to the New York Times, Smith’s office has subpoenaed and interviewed what they call “a vast array of Trump vendors,” asking them about how money was paid to vendors and whether some of the vendors subcontracted their services to other vendors. What the DOJ wants to know is “if the payments were for genuine services rendered,” which can indicate only one thing: They suspect that Trump was diverting some of the Super PAC money to himself or his family through phony invoices from phony front-companies with the end result that the money ended up in Trump’s pockets.

Given a choice of whether to tell the truth or lie, Trump will lie every time. Given the choice of whether to pay a bill or stiff someone, Trump will stiff them every time. Given the choice of whether to raise several tens of millions of dollars for a legal purpose and then let it sit there without finding its way into his pockets, Trump will take the money every time.

Folks, Donald Trump is going to be indicted. Bank on it.

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.

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Trump Attorney Offers Bizarre Excuse For Keeping 'Classified' Folder

Trump Attorney Offers Bizarre Excuse For Keeping 'Classified' Folder

A Trump attorney has described public discourse on a recently discovered “classified” folder at Mar-a-Lago as much ado over nothing — because Trump used the folder only to block a light that kept him up at night.

“He has one of those landline telephones next to his bed, and it has a blue light on it, and it keeps him up at night. So he took the manilla folder and put it over so it would keep the light down so he could sleep at night,” Trump lawyer Timothy Parlatore said in a CNN Interview on Sunday.

Parlatore quipped to the CNN anchor, Paula Reid, that the folder — labeled “classified evening summary” and found in Trump’s bedroom — was “one of the more humorous aspects of this whole thing” and not classified despite its label containing the word.

"It is not a classification marking. It's not anything that is controlled in any way. There's nothing illegal about it. There's nothing in it,” Parlatore said.

The claim was the latest in a Rolodex of bizarre explanations offered by Trump allies in defense of the ex-commander-in–chief from whom the Justice Department has, for months, sought to retrieve a horde of illegally kept and inadequately stored classified documents.

Parlatore, who represents Trump in the special counsel probe into the ex-president’s handling of classified documents, said that the Justice Department “went crazy” when it learned about the folder.

“When DOJ found out about it, they went crazy. They gave me a subpoena to say, ‘give us over this empty folder that means nothing.’ Everything we have done as part of the search has been in the spirit of full cooperation and compliance,” he told Reid.

“Now the president has to find a different way to keep the blue light out of his eyes,” he added.

When Reid asked Parlatore why classified material kept turning up in Trump’s possession, the attorney suggested his client was as much a victim of the White House’s improper “procedures for handling classified information” as President Biden and ex-Vice President Mike Pence.

“What has happened here that you’ve seen here and also in the Biden and Pence investigations is that the White House does not have proper procedures for handling classified information.

“And these documents, when they get backed up and sent out when people leave office, they do keep showing up, if you will,” he said.


The folder was one of several items turned over to federal investigators between December and January, over four months after the FBI searched Trump’s Florida home and retrieved reams of secret government records, over a hundred of which were marked classified.

Parlatore insisted Trump’s legal team had mentioned the folder in its report to the DOJ and had alerted the agency to its presence. He also accused the DOJ of leaking the handover to the press.

“These were not turned over last week, although, you know, the DOJ leaked it last week. This was turned over back in December. And so, we have gone through, we’ve tried to work with the DOJ. We’ve tried to do searches of all the relevant places. And anytime we’ve found anything, we’ve immediately turned it over,” he said.

From the onset, Trump and his allies have tried to downplay the findings as inconsequential with myriad excuses, from claiming that Trump had declassified the documents as president to falsely accusing Biden of weaponizing federal agencies against political opponents.

ABC News and CNN reported over the weekend that the formerly undisclosed tranche of handovers included a laptop onto which a Trump aide had copied several document pages with classified markings using a thumb drive.

The aide, several outlets reported, works for Trump’s Save America political action committee, which is under investigation by a federal grand jury looking into the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“She was working as an aide to the president. And this is a box that had all of his daily schedules from his time in office. And she scanned all of those as part of, you know, being available for future speeches or biographies or things like that,” Parlatore said of the aide.

“And after we did the search in December and we found that within this box of thousands that there were a couple of pages that had a little marking at the bottom, which we turned over,” he continued.

“After that, we found out that she had scanned the box so that it would be digitized. She had no idea that there were any classification markings on anything. And as soon as we found out about that, we called up DOJ to let them know. And immediately provided them access to it,” he concluded.

A Trump spokesperson has since branded the classified documents probe “a targeted, politically motivated witch hunt against President Trump, concocted to try and prevent the American people from returning him to the White House," per ABC News.

"Just like all the other fake hoaxes thrown at President Trump, this corrupt effort will also fail," the spokesperson wrote.

Trump Lawyers Refuse Special Master Order On Documents He 'Declassified'

Trump Lawyers Refuse Special Master Order On Documents He 'Declassified'

By Karen Freifeld and Sarah N. Lynch

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former President Donald Trump's lawyers resisted revealing whether he declassified materials seized in an August FBI search of his Florida home as the U.S. judge appointed to review the documents planned his first conference on the matter on Tuesday.

Judge Raymond Dearie on Monday circulated a draft plan to both sides that sought details on documents Trump allegedly declassified, as he claimed publicly and without evidence, though his lawyers have not asserted that in court filings.

In a letter filed ahead of Tuesday's hearing, Trump's lawyers argued it is not time and would force him to reveal a defense to any subsequent indictment - an acknowledgement that the investigation could lead to criminal charges.

Dearie, a senior federal judge in Brooklyn, was selected as an independent arbiter known as a special master. He will help decide which of the more than 11,000 documents seized in the August 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home should be kept from the Justice Department's criminal investigation into the alleged mishandling of the documents.

Dearie will recommend to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon which documents may fall under attorney-client privilege or an assertion of executive privilege, which allows a president to withhold certain documents or information.

It is unclear whether the review would go forward as instructed by Cannon, the Florida judge appointed to the bench by Trump in 2020 who ordered the review.

Trump is under investigation for retaining government records, some marked as highly classified, at the resort in Palm Beach, his home after leaving office in January 2021. He has denied wrongdoing, and said without providing evidence that he believes the investigation is a partisan attack.

The Justice Department on Friday appealed a portion of Cannon's ruling, seeking to stay the review of roughly 100 documents with classified markings and the judge's restricting FBI access to them.

Federal prosecutors said the special master review ordered by the judge would hinder the government from addressing national security risks and force the disclosure of "highly sensitive materials."

On Tuesday, Trump's legal team filed its response to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, opposing the government's request and calling the Justice Department's investigation "unprecedented and misguided."

In their 40-page filing, Trump's attorneys said the court should not take the Justice Department at its word that the roughly 100 documents in question are in fact still classified, and said the special master should be permitted to review them as a step towards "restoring order from chaos."

In Cannon's order appointing Dearie as special master, she asked him to conclude his review by the end of November. She instructed him to prioritize the documents marked classified, though her process calls for Trump's counsel to review the documents, and Trump's lawyers may not have the necessary security clearance.

The Justice Department has described the special master process as unnecessary, as it has already conducted its own attorney-client privilege review and set aside about 500 pages that could qualify. It opposes an executive privilege review, saying any such assertion over the records would fail.

The August FBI search came after Trump left office with documents that belong to the government and did not return them, despite numerous requests by the government and a subpoena.

It is still unclear whether the government has all the records. The Justice Department has said some classified material still could be missing after the FBI recovered empty folders with classification markings from Mar-a-Lago.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld, additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham, David Gregorio and Chizu Nomiyama)

Durham Dismisses False Reports About Trump’s Paranoid ‘Spying' Claims

Durham Dismisses False Reports About Trump’s Paranoid ‘Spying' Claims

Special Counsel John H. Durham is pushing back against Fox News' reports suggesting former President Donald Trump was preoccupied with conspiracy theories and spying on staff members.

According to The New York Times, Fox News' reporting explained details about Durham's motion which suggested former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign was secretly surveilling the Trump White House servers. But now, however, Durham actually refuted those reports, himself.

On Thursday, February 17, the special counsel's team wrote a statement in its court filing. “If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated, or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the Government’s Motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the Government’s inclusion of this information,” Durham’s team wrote.

Per The Daily Beast, Durham tried to defend himself against allegations made by defense attorneys who argue that his Feb. 11 court filing was an attempt to "inflame media coverage.” In right-wing reports about the filing, they also falsely claimed that it included evidence to support the notion that the Clinton campaign conspired against the former president.

Trump has also pushed similar claims. Last week, the former president claimed the baseless conspiracy theory should be “punishable by death.”

"This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution," Trump reportedly said. "In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death. In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet