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Monday, December 09, 2019

Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and estate in Palm Beach, Florida

Responding to an order from the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, the Department of Justice last night filed a revised list of the items taken from Mar-a-Lago during a search of the premises on August 8. Judge Dearie ordered the filing in response to implications made by lawyers for Donald Trump in court and in previous court filings that the FBI had planted evidence among the documents and items taken from the Palm Beach estate.

While Trump’s lawyers couched their allegations in legalese, Trump himself has come right out and stated that the FBI planted evidence when they searched Mar-a-Lago, most recently when he described to an interviewer on Newsmax the “ransacked” appearance of his residence when he visited the place recently.

Because the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had removed 100 folders of classified documents from the purview of the special master and returned them to the DOJ for use in its criminal investigation of Trump, Dearie limited his order for the revised inventory to the 11,000 non-classified documents, official government photographs, news clippings, Time covers, North Korean dictator mash notes, and other items the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago.

In addition to updating its inventory, adding about 55 items to its previous list of seized materials, the FBI agent in charge of the search filed an affidavit with the special master certifying that an additional review of the seized items had been done.

“In order to ensure that the Detailed Property Inventory was accurate, I and FBI personnel working under my direction conducted an additional review and recount of the Seized Materials in order to make this declaration,” the lead FBI agent wrote. “That additional review and recount resulted in some minor revisions to the Detailed Property Inventory.”

The only other revision to the original inventory involved the total number of empty classified folders the FBI previously said it had found, which was 48. The FBI had reported finding two empty classified folders in a box in the storage room at Mar a Lago. The updated inventory states that was a mistake, and lists the 46 empty classified folders found in Trump’s office as the only ones found during the search.

Interestingly, the FBI has now certified that all of the empty classified folders came from Trump’s office, clearly implying that if the empty folders had once held classified documents, they were removed by someone with access to Trump’s office. Trump himself had access to his Mar-a-Lago office, along with a very short list of close aides, all of whom can be served with subpoenas and questioned about the empty folders and whether they removed any classified documents from them, or know who did.

Legal experts on MSNBC and CNN are practically unanimous in describing Dearie’s order as a “put up or shut up” moment for Trump. He has until Friday to respond to the DOJ filing. The Trump response must affirm or deny that the FBI’s revised list is accurate, and if Trump alleges that it is inaccurate, list any documents or other materials that Trump contends do not belong to him or were not present at Mar-a-Lago at the time of the search, and list anything that Trump claims belongs to him that is missing from the inventory. The response will be a sworn document subject to charges of perjury and/or contempt of court.

Trump will not cease shooting his mouth off about the “corruption” in the FBI or lying about the planting of evidence at Mar-a-Lago.. But anything Trump says on Newsmax or on his pathetic Truth Social app may be used against him in future court proceedings of the special master and by prosecutors who may bring charges against him for mishandling the government-owned documents, classified and unclassified, or for removing them from the White House in the first place.

Trump built the mousetrap that his demand for a special master has turned into, and he’s got his snout sitting right on its trigger.

Watch this space for updates.

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 read his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter

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