The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Why Trump Hoarded Secret Documents

Yesterday the New York Times reported that one of Trump’s lawyers — it didn’t say which one — last June signed off on a declaration that all classified materials in Trump’s possession had been returned to the government. Somebody’s in trouble.

Here’s a sentence that’s so New York Timesy: “The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material.” Ya think?

A long article at WaPo, Trump’s secrets: How a records dispute led the FBI to search Mar-a-Lago, is worth reading. It fills in some more details. The National Archives started to nag Trump about missing documents in the spring of 2021, it says. 

People familiar with those initial conversations said Trump was hesitant to return the documents, dragging his feet for months as officials grew peeved and eventually threatened to alert Congress or the Justice Department to his reticence.

This is from the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Trump’s lawyers and representatives have said that they were in negotiations with the government when the FBI showed up and that they have complied with Justice Department requests.

One, it’s been dragging on for well over a year. Two, these were not “negotiations.” This was the government saying “You have things in your possession that should not be in your possession, and you must hand them over now.” No compliance, no negotiation.

WSJ describes Trump’s final days in the White House as chaotic, especially since Trump didn’t begin to prepare to leave until the last minute. So things were thrown in boxes haphazardly. However, much of the classified material was of a nature that it should’t have just been lying around, even in the White House, where Trump could have just thrown in it a box.

Back to the Washington Post:

A Trump adviser said the former president’s reluctance to relinquish the records stems from his belief that many items created during his term — photos, notes, even a model of Air Force One built to show off a new paint job he had commissioned — are now his personal property, despite a law dating to the 1970s that decreed otherwise.

“He gave them what he believed was theirs,” the adviser said.

“He gets his back up every time they asked him for something,”said another Trump adviser. “He didn’t give them the documents because he didn’t want to. He doesn’t like those people. He doesn’t trust those people.”

Former chief of staff John Kelly went on to say that Trump just plain didn’t respect the classification system and thought it was stupid.

We’ve been talking about why Trump was so determined to hang on to those documents. Did he plan to sell them? Might he use them as leverage against people he didn’t like?

But the honest answer may be in that WaPo article — he didn’t want to. He just didn’t want to. Access to classified documents was one of the cool things about being POTUS, and giving them up amounted to an admission he wasn’t POTUS any more. He couldn’t move on. It’s like Miss Havisham refusing to take off her wedding gown and get rid of the moldy cake.

Matt Bai wrote something worth reading

In Trump’s worldview, he acquired the office and the generals and the state secrets, just as he’d once acquired the Eastern Air Lines’ shuttle, and this whole idea that he was privileged to serve was a bunch of deep-state nonsense. …

… So, of course, Trump refused to leave the job until forced, and of course he held on to material that clearly belonged in public hands. When the presidency is an acquisition rather than an opportunity to serve, then everything that comes with it is rightfully yours to do with as you please.

The clock ran out and he lost the office and the swag, and he felt robbed. That was his stuff. He was hanging on to his stuff, because it was his. And let’s be honest; the perks and the swag were all he cared about. The job, not so much. I don’t believe he ever grasped that the presidency is a job. He’s never had a job, you know.

Several times in his presidency he played fast and loose with secret information, sometimes just to show off. For example, in 2017 he was too eager to share intelligence with Russian officials in the Oval Office, for no apparent reason. Who knows how much he shared with Putin in their unmonitored conversations?

David Graham at The Atlantic:

Trump is both an inveterate braggart and a terrible secret-keeper. In May 2017, the same week he fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to protect him personally, Trump disclosed classified information (reportedly obtained from Israel) to the Russian foreign secretary and ambassador during a White House meeting. In April 2019, he posted a photo of an explosion at an Iranian facility, over the objections of intelligence officials, who worried it would undermine future American spying. Later that year, he blabbed about nuclear systems to the reporter Bob Woodward.

Woodward’s sources were surprised by Trump’s loose lips, but they shouldn’t have been. Trump most likely wasn’t sharing these things because they were national-security matters; he was sharing them because they were secrets he could share. This is, after all, a man who leaked about his own extramarital affair to the press. In any case, the U.S. intelligence community became consistently worried about sharing secret information with Trump, for fear he’d spread it, as Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times notes.

Immediately after the search, WaPo says, Trump was sure the FBI had played into his hands. He planned to use the search to rally people to his side and help him regain the White House. By the end of the week, his mood was darker. “As the week progressed, Trump grew angrier, at times screaming profanities to advisers about the FBI and how they were out to ‘get him,’ people who were in contact with him said.”

He cannot understand that this is, ultimately, not about him.

The Right is still trying to gin up outrage over the search. Now Fox is saying the FBI seized records covered by attorney-client privilege. Somehow I doubt there is any attorney-client privilege where national security is concerned. Fox also says Trump’s lawyers have asked for an independent special master to be appointed to review the documents, and the DoJ said no. I question whether there is any such person who is that “independent” but who also has the highest level of security clearance.

For more on what motivates Trump, see David Atkins, Trump Can’t Envision a Government Less Corrupt Than He Is. “His narcissism is so supreme that he cannot distinguish between personal and institutional loyalty. In his mind, every institution is as corrupt and self-serving as he is.” He doesn’t think in terms of obeying laws or following rules where the security of the nation is concerned. As far as he understands anything, the only reason the FBI would have seized those boxes is that President Biden is out to get him. He can’t grasp any other reason for anybody to do anything.

Have I mentioned lately that the man is colossally stupid?

15 thoughts on “Why Trump Hoarded Secret Documents

  1. Well, to be fair Dean Wormer once told him "son, going through life fat, drunk and stupid is no way to succeed". He refused the advice and surrounded himself with people as stupid as he is.

    In their super secret dead Nazi hideout their attempts  to place themselves in triple secret all powerful code ring declassification mode was to prevent something like this from happening.

    While I am usually quite pessimistic about any of this (see: Supreme Court 2023) there may be a ray of hope that this, poor record retention and possible espionage act violations, of all things, will finally bring this lying blob of clay to his knees, which are smaller blobs of lying clay called knees because of their location above his lying blob of clay ankles.  

  2. Today on the morning talk head shows, one individual which needs research for an ID said had paperwork worth billions to an American adversary, was in his poorly sealed facilities in his custody.  Let us all hope the worst news is not yet to come.  

  3. Ultimately, Donald Trump is a rich man's brat. This means, when he was young, if he and his friends got in trouble, his friends went to juvenile hall, and Trump went to military school for a while and continued to be coddled. He always gets off or somebody buys Donald Trump's way out. 

    Top Secret documents are not toys for too clever little Donald to play with or show off.

  4. It's entirely possible that Trump wanted the National Archives to go crazy trying to get him to return Top Secret documents. In Trump's mind, these were librarians with systems Trump found constraining. I'm guessing that Trump found out that NA knew exactly what documents had been checked out to the WH, on what date, and signed for by what person. 

    National Archives is also the department that received the "alternate" electors in the coup that failed.  (Did Trump try to 'rig' things with the J6 count with the National  Archives?) 

    Trump's lawyers in FL were not first-string but they probably wanted the FBI to go away while Trump reveled in having something 'they' wanted. And Trump thought he was untouchable in MOL. The "I'm above the law." attitude seemed well-founded as the FBI jumped through Trump's hoops for 18 months. If the Top Secret stuff was as valuable as implied, they should have asked once and been down there with a warrant a week later. 

    What's funny is that the FBI scooped up everything and will return Trump's personal stuff after they have examined it. This will include notes that MAY be incriminationg in J6 investigations. And I'm not up on the law, but suff that's evidence of a different crime may be admissable. (Open to correction on that point.) 

    OK. Charge the bastard!

  5. Access to classified documents was one of the cool things about being POTUS, and giving them up amounted to an admission he wasn’t POTUS any more. He couldn’t move on. It’s like Miss Havisham refusing to take off her wedding gown and get rid of the moldy cake.

    Yeah, Just like it's not uncommon for serial killers to take physical articles from their victims so they can reconnect emotionally to the thrill their crime. With Jeffrey Dahmer it was assorted body parts and with Trump it's top secret classified documents.

     Who knows? Could be on those cold lonely nights when Melania wasn't to receptive he might make his way to the storage room to tenderly caress his boxes of classified information to satisfy that burning emotion need within.

  6. That signed affidavit declaring that Trump had given over all the requested documents was signed by Christina Bobb. She's also the one who signed the receipt for the items taken by the FBI in the search at Mar-a-Lago. She's the one who I mentioned about in a previous thread doing a Hannity interview on Fox News.

     It was obvious during the interview she wasn't prepared. It was like she was just put on the spot and told to muddy the waters with whatever she could come up with to add confusion. She offered nothing in the way of anything pertaining to a legal defense or justification for Trump to have those documents in his custody. Just mindless noise coming from her. I mean, when she mentioned Paul Pelosi's DUI arrest I thought, oh wow, she floundering. There was nothing professional about her. And her eyes kept shifting like something was distracting her. Cue cards? or an improperly placed teleprompter? Sometimes some peoples eyes have difficulty staying fixed when they are telling lies.

    I'm now wondering if she might have had a come to Jesus moment in realizing that in her efforts to please Trump and satify his demands she found herself way over her head facing some serious shit. Could she be the one who dropped a dime on Trump in an effort to extricate herself from the situation she's now in? It would make sense to me and it is quite possible that someone explained to her what the consequences will be when it gets ugly…she signed the affidavit, she'll take the rap. Trump will hang her out to dry.

  7. The FBI took Orangeman's passport.

    Flight risk? He does not need a passport to take off and land (as you said, in some kingdom) … gotta' have one to get back in. Border security, you know.

    • and…

      the Mango Man-darin said he reached out to the AG to see what he could do to put out the fire he started. AG should reply "read the Miranda rights that you see on the teevee".

  8. the Mango Mandarin said he reached out to the AG to see what he could do to put out the fire he started. AG should reply "read the Miranda rights that you see on the TeeVee".

  9. Flight risk? He does not need a passport to take off and land (as you said, in some kingdom) … gotta' have one to get back in. Border security, you know.

  10. Why did the orange asset keep above-top-secret nuclear and signal-intelligence documents? Snafu? Avarice? As souvenirs? As leverage against prosecution? To sell?

    If to sell, then he's a traitor. If from snafu, or as souvenirs, then he's a moron. My cynical father taught me that a fool is worse than a crook: for you must police a crook, but a fool is a force of nature. So when I call him an 'orange asset', that's my way of being an optimist.

    Who informed on him? Someone told the DOJ that he had the documents, and where he had them. So who's the snitch, the mole, the rat? Jared? Ivanka? Meadows? Melania? The Secret Service? And who but a criminal worries about snitches, moles, rats?

  11. Trump wanted to sell all that info to the highest bidder.  It isn't useful to him any other way.  He said the docs were "MINE" not "theirs'–not sure who "theirs" is meant to be.


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