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Trump Fights to Keep “His” Documents

Trump didn’t take the hint. Instead of letting his judge, Aileen Cannon, disentangle from the mess she made with her bonehead Labor Day decision, he and his lawyers still want to block the feds from reviewing the classified documents.

Lawyers for former president Donald Trump filed court papers Monday arguing against any pause in a judge’s order for a special master to review documents seized at Mar-a-Lago last month, suggesting that some of the documents marked classified may not be, and that Trump may have the right to keep the materials in his possession.

“In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records,” the Trump lawyers wrote, arguing that prosecutors are trying to limit any outside review of “what it deems are ‘classified records.’ ”

In brief, Trump is saying Nyah nyah nyah! So send it to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. I’ve packed it with my judges already. They’ll sit on it forever.

Josh Kovensky says at TMP:

For months, former President Trump and his allies have claimed that, at the end of his term in office, he issued a broad declassification order.

Some of these statements — from Trump acolytes such as the former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) staffer Kash Patel — came even before the FBI executed search warrants at Mar-a-Lago last month.

Now, in a Monday court filing, Trump is repeating those claims, except for one key point: he won’t say in court that he actually declassified the records seized by the FBI.

Trump’s attorneys stopped short of that defense. Instead, they claimed that, hypothetically, Trump had the power to declassify the records in question, and that he very well may have done so. Besides, they argued, isn’t the burden on the government to prove that the records themselves were no longer classified?

“The Government contends that President Trump can have no such interest in the purported ‘classified records,’” the filing reads. “But, again, the Government has not proven these records remain classified. That issue is to be determined later.”

Exactly what part of “Trump has created a national security crisis” are they not getting? Oh, never mind.

It’s my understanding that the government documents are stolen property, classified or not. Even if Trump were able to persuade a court that he really had declassified everything, he doesn’t get them back.

Trump’s lawyers also argue that the government can’t possibly be all that concerned about the allegedly classified information. Colin Kalmbacher at Law and Crime:

The 22-page motion in opposition the DOJ’s motion for a partial stay pending appeal attempted to undercut the government’s “serious harms” position by pointing to recent “unauthorized leaks” of information about the allegedly “classified records” in question.

“The Government is apparently not concerned with unauthorized leaks regarding the contents of the purported ‘classified records,’ and would presumably be prepared to share all such records publicly in any future jury trial,” the motion argues in a footnote – which contains a link to a Sept 6, 2022 Washington Post story titled: “Material on foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.” …

… “[F]or the record, these leaks are very problematic,” national security attorney Kel McClanahan, who has generally been critical of Trump’s legal position in the case, tweeted on Monday morning. “They already formed the basis of Cannon’s original order. I understand why the person is leaking them, but they need to keep in mind that if they end up losing this fight, it will be in large part because of them.”

Trump’s lawyers also argue that “President Trump clearly has an individual interest in and need for the seized property.” Yeah, he needs to know another country’s nuclear secrets.

I’m sure there will be more commentary popping up about this as the day goes on.

Update: Emptywheel, who is smarter than most of us, says that the authority Trump’s lawyers cite in their filing today — an Executive Order signed by President Obama in 2009 — actually makes the DoJ’s argument that ex-Presidents have no rights to classified documents.

11 thoughts on “Trump Fights to Keep “His” Documents

  1. Interesting, but how significant?  Let's say, regardless of this judge's ruling,  that DOJ files criminal charges against TFG. Atr the rules of 'evidence' in the criminal proceeding what Judge Loose Cannon says they are, or will the criminal judge in the criminal case determine the rules of evidence?

    Will the ploy have any material bearing or is it smoke and mirrors intended to distract and delay the criminal process? (I am not sure of the answer.) The GOP intended that the midterms would be about Biden. Trump wants to gin up support by playing the victim and he's taking center stage. That's the midterms – the more this drags into the  2024 presidential election, the worse it is for the GOP.

    I'm not advocating the DoJ should not oppose frivolous delays but as they say: "When your enemy is scewing up, let them."

  2. I can usually take both sides of a controversial topic, but not this one.  I lack one thing.  I lack any possible legitimate reason Trump would want possession of those documents.  If he had a purpose and a reason which could be seen as a good for the country, things would be different.  To my knowledge no such purpose or reason has been offered. 

    This tends to lead one to think Trumps reasons are illegitimate. Those in possession of the documents have much evidence of what illegitimate aims Trump is up to.  They need to continue their investigation. At this point
    Trump needs to show convincing evidence that his aim is not the destruction of our democracy.  We have much evidence his past actions had that aim.  We would be foolish to demand less of his present actions.  

  3. Using Maha's previous descriptor of the judge…

    Don't bet against Judge 'Loose' Cannon giving tRump all of the delays he is looking for.  Also, don't bet that the 11th Circuit will expedite appeals.

  4. I heard that the new meaning for the MAGA now reflects what's happening to "Old King Stole's" lawyers.

    MAGA: Make Attorney's Get Attorney's.

    Lotta truth there!

  5. For discussion (and I do not have any inside information) the best possible outcome for the GOP establishment (think McConnell, Chris Christie, Rubio, Cruz, even Liz) is if Trump is convicted and thrown in prison. Why? He's silenced and the Dems get the blame. 

    IMO, the GOP could easily fracture into two parties, I've speculated extensively on the pressure that the lunatics in charge put on the business of the party to serve the donor class. IMO, the main thrust of the Federalist Society is not in culture wars – it's in empowering the rich to prevent rabble rule (AKA democracy.)  The plan was to do this without general chaos and revolution which can inconveniently produce the guillotine at awkward times. 

    The cultists are over 60% of the voting faithful in the GOP. Nobody dares say what Liz did about tRump in the GOP. But tRump is the agent of chaos. Out of control doesn't come close to describing his style. The kingmakers in the GOP want tRump gone, silenced and they do not want to be caught as his jailer. SO, I think the GOP will quietly facilitate the prosecution while they publicly proclaim the injustice. 'Free Donald Trump" will be the rally cry that they never quite accomplish. 

    This scenario has probably occurred to the Donald. I expect he'll respond with a threat he fully intends to carry out. Either the GOP saves tRump from prison or he'll destroy the party by forming a new one and condemning the 'corruption' of the old party. (Talk about your pot and kettle.) As the anarchist for the ages, tRump will demand the GOP lead the charge in delivering blood in the streets if his crime goes to trial. 

    If DeSantos declares that he's running to save Trump, and he's the only Republican who can be elected and thus pardon tRump, I think that's the signal that the bus that's gonna run over tRump is just around the corner. One faction wants a figurehead as silent as stone, the other faction wants a vindictive king in power.  There's little room for compromise there.


  6. And since the talking heads and the D's never learn they are recycleing all their comments an praise they spewed forth when Barr was nominiated to embellish the record of the thuglican judicial hitman that diaper don's lawyers offered up as the  special master that the DoJs has agreed to.

    Nothing like watching the DoJ taking a dive on this issue to protect their thuglican masters.

    • Nothing like watching the DoJ taking a dive on this issue to protect their thuglican masters.

      I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

      • The point being that the DoJ by accepting demented donnies recommended judicial puppet, a addled ronnie "judge", as a special master is waving the white flag of surrender to the trump forces on the case of documents illegally stored.

        This hack, having first loyalty to his thuglican masters, will delay and obstruct the investigation for as long as it takes for diaper don to slip away scot free.

        Remember thuglicans owe their first and only loyalty to the party. Also remember the thuglicans are masters of nurrowing their puppets into gov. agencies, departments etc as "professional" staff every time they lose an election.

        These "professsionl" staffers then spend however long as it takes in saboutageing any D admin. actions.

        Leaks, slow walking, losing papers and generally throwing sand into the gears of gov.

        The DoJ has accepted as Special Master a thuglican puppet.


  7. The US government is like an abused spouse. With the perpetrator playing games manipulating and getting the cops(judges) to buddy up and side with him and telling the hysterical little lady to calm down cool off give him more time.

    I don't ever want to hear " why did you not leave ". The man is dangerous manipulating lying has money and power and friends who will take his side and do his bidding.

    There is only one way to handle people like this.

    Funny so many are playing his game 

  8. Krugman's column today is a treasure.   The deflation of MAGA macho myths to counter some harsh persistent inflation numbers also making news.  

    It seems Tucker Carlson, at the end of August, looked in his malfunctioning crystal ball and saw Russia winning in the Ukraine and that "Biden is supporting Ukraine only because he wants to destroy the West". Russia, of course, has the leader everyone (by Tucker standards) who is the ideal macho man and alter ego of Tie-too-long.  Then came the rout of the Russian forces and Putin's loss of face.    

    I predict Tucker will not change his schtick nor send his crystal ball out for re-calibration.  He will just plod along trying to jamb more square pegs in round holes and blaming his faulty hammer for his blundering.  Tucker, a man who fails to suffer from cognitive dissonance because his brain did not come with that app.  

    Hopefully a tease and not a spoiler if you have not seen Krugman's column.  I'd link it but the NYT has a paywall.  You may be lucky enough to live where your local library has a copy.  I wish I was that lucky.  

  9. Exactly what part of “Trump has created a national security crisis” are they not getting? Oh, never mind.

    It’s my understanding that the government documents are stolen property, classified or not.


    Part of the problem is the difference between classified information, and actual classified *documents*.

    If a newspaper has a perfect set of photoreplicas of classified documents printed, the newspaper contains classified information, but it's not a classified document.

    Now, a President is allowed to do anything with classified *information* that he wants to do. If he wants to tell America's enemies our secrets, no one has the right to tell him not to.

    The physical documents, the originals, well, that's a different matter. They do belong to the government, and let's just accept, for the sake of argument, that there is no mechanism by which a President can silently transfer ownership of the originals to himself, with no paper trail. I figure the DOJ's lawyers *probably* considered that possibility, but only after Michael Cohen said "no, think STUPIDER" a few times.


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