I am temporarily back in Missouri to wind up things here. And I’m trying to keep up with the news. Today CNN reports:
The National Archives has informed former president Donald Trump that it is set to hand over to special counsel Jack Smith 16 records which show Trump and his top advisers had knowledge of the correct declassification process while he was president, according to multiple sources.
In a May 16 letter obtained by CNN, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall writes to Trump, “The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.”
The 16 presidential records, which were subpoenaed earlier this year, may provide critical evidence establishing the former president’s awareness of the declassification process, a key part of the criminal investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents.
The records may also provide insight into Trump’s intent and whether he willfully disregarded what he knew to be clearly established protocols, according to a source familiar with recent testimony provided to the grand jury by former top Trump officials.
I personally think the more incriminating thing was something he said in the infamous CNN “town hall” last week:
When asked why he took government documents from the White House, Trump answered: “I was there and I took what I took. … I had every right to do it. I didn’t make a secret of it. You know, the boxes were stationed outside of the White House.”
Yes, it’s very likely all kinds of people tried to educate him about the classification thing, and he just ignored them. And it appears he still hasn’t figured out why the documents aren’t “his.” Or else he’s trying to hide behind ignorance of the law, but that’s not supposed to be a legitimate defense.
The John Durham’s report on his investigation was released a couple of days ago. Paul Waldman explains that while the investigation was a total flop, the report is a propaganda triumph. It doesn’t matter that Durham didn’t find actual wrongdoing in the FBI investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. But the Right has still been able to spin it to claim the FBI investigation was just political and never should have been started.
I don’t know what’s going on with the debt ceiling, and part of me doesn’t want to know. I just want the thing resolved. Apparently I’m not the only one.
Also of note – one of Trump's lawyers on the case of the documents withdrew officially today. He was all rainbows-and-unicorns about his departure but like with any divorce, there was something happening. Pair that up with some old news, a heavyweight hired last year Chris Kise, was sidelined after being hired for 3 mil. (Kise reportedly saw the liability and recommended Trump play nice with DOJ for a settlement to lesser charges.)
Trump wants to go after DOJ and make them the criminals and Trump the victim. That's workable as a PR strategy fed to the MAGA cultists. No MAGA cultist will be allowed to sit on the jury for the same reason I won't. They hold pre-conceived opinions about the case. As a criminal strategy, going after DOJ, Smith individually, and later the judge (who will do sentencing) is nothing short of retarded. As a matter of biased opinion, Trump wants his lawyers to execute a scorched-earth attack on everyone associated with a criminal prosecution.
IMO, lawyers with an understanding of… the law, of sanctions, of disbarment, and with regard for their own reputation, have given Trump advice, which Trump has rejected. They could (and probably would) continue to represent Trump and bill him but the plan Trump has settled on could ruin them professionally.
Echos of Meat Loaf: "I'd do anything for love (but I won't do that.) " Except substitute, 'money' for 'love' – and you may be looking at the quality that will doom Trump in several criminal courts. Trump will be stuck with nut-case lawyers eager to follow Trump's instructions, and the plan will fail with a jury. Over and over in criminal cases.
I raised 'defenses' in discussions with my lawyers that were NOT grounded in the law. They explained to me why the ideas – several of them – would fail in court. Implicit was the right I had to represent myself which would result in a spectacular crash-and-burn. I'm not completely stupid. Trump is. I paid with a 120-day sentence – I think Trump is looking at a lot more time, considering bad behavior. (Yes, that's a prediction, based on how Trump acted with the recent rape trial.)
The most interesting aspect of the timeline is (my opinion) when criminal cases go to the jury. I do no think Trump will take a chance on being locked up. Probably there's not a great chance of that with the NY case underway. (That's not exactly fair since Cohen did time for the same crime, but I don't think the judge wil lay jail time on Trump for the fraud of hiding payoffs to Danials.l.) The classified documents case is in a different level. If convicted of obstruction (combined with calls for violence against the court during the trial) there will be jail time. If there's evidence that Trump has prepared to flee the country before sentencing, Trump will be jailed while awaiting sentencing. Even a dim-bulb like Trump knows we're outside civil and $$$ penalties.
Fleeing the country for Trump will be no big deal. Even if Trump has to give up his passports, Trump has planes that can reach Europe in one hop. Non-US pilots could be well enough paid to never return to the US and possible penalties. The problem is – recruiting these people will probably be spotted by the FBI.
I'm watching the calendar. There's several ways this could all happen before the general election in 18 months.
The John Durham report is rather engrossing
reading for a Gov't report and I am not even from the USA.
If the report is accurate it looks pretty clear the FBI investigation was a cock-up from the word go. You look at it as a "politically motivated" witch hunt or an investigation that the FBI was perfectly justified it initiating and I can see reasons both ways, the report suggests a noticeable level of organizational incompetence.
It doesn’t matter that Durham didn’t find actual wrongdoing in the FBI investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia.
It is interesting that the report spends a gooed part of two pages, 19-20, at the beginning of the report explaining the Principles of Federal Prosecution.
There are comments throughout the report suggesting that, regretfully, the Special Investigator just could not find "just that little bit" more evidence to start a prosecution.
I'm only up to Pg. 185 but it is an interesting read.
You're being sucked into the propaganda, I take it. It has been widely reported, and not just by Durham, that the F.B.I. botched the applications to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser. The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, found those problems awhile back. They were not considered grounds to throw out the whole investigation. "Horowitz kneecapped Mr. Durham’s investigation by finding no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. He also concluded that the basis of the Russia inquiry — an Australian diplomat’s tip related to the release of Democratic emails hacked by Russia — was sufficient to open a full investigation." (source)
Well stated. I would direct those who have been taken in to Marcy Wheeler on emptywheel.net. IANAL and will never be a lawyer but her factual explanations, as well as most of her commenters, help me understand the misrepresentations made.
You are also being suckered by what's omitted from the report.
For example: before Trump took office, Flynn and Kushner contacted the Russian ambassador to request secure communications equipment directly to the Kremlin. This isn't rumor – it's fact. Flynn resigned over lying to Pence about the negotiation. Look beyond the contact to question the motive. The US HAS communication with the Kremlin multiple ways, including a "hot line" on the president's desk.
Trump wanted a way to talk to Putin that could NOT be monitored by the State Dept, or by the CIA. WHAT did Trump anticipate saying to Putin that could not be heard by the intell community?
Putin wanted Trump to win in 2016 (and 2020.) The conclusion of the Intell community is that Russia actively engaged through social media to affect both elections. Manifort, before he left the Trump campaign gave a Russian operative inside detailed polling information from the campaign which might have been used in detailed targeting by the Russian operation.
Trump signed a Letter of Intent for Trump Tower – Moscow during the campaign and lied about it. Cohen lied under oath to Congress about Trump Tower – Moscow. The document is now in the public record.
Maha's comment re the Trump operative who knew and spoke of the awareness the Trump campaign had of Russia's hacking of Clinton's campaign. There were indications including from Rudy, that they KNEW when there would be dumps of damaging information.
Trump confiscated the notes of the US interpreter at a face-to-face meeting with Putin in 2017. There was no note-taker at the meeting, an unprecedented breach of procedure. There's no good reason fro a president to conduct national business without oversight. That Trump tried repeatedly is cause for the intell community to investigate.
I wish I could say I'm surprised but the vast majority never paid attention and/or have forgotten the screaming signals that Trump is/was under an unhealthy, possibly corrupt, kind of influence or control by Russia. The few instances I mention from my memory may be but a few compared to what the CIA observed,
Muller never over-reached in the conclusions and the connections were there, documented and at the least, suspicious. Trump continues to argue for an outcome in Ukraine favorable to Moscow. Reading the Durham report without looking at the reality of Trump's contacts with Russia, directly and through his surrogates, will lead you to a false conclusion.
The truth? The Muller Investigation was justified, the conclusions proper, though incomplete. Trump has a dangerous subservience to Putin that endangers US interests whenever they conflict with Putin's ambitions.
"And it appears he still hasn’t figured out why the documents aren’t “his.”"
Well he's Stump everything is "his" in that adderall befuddled tiny brain of his!
"Special Investigator just could not find "just that little bit" more evidence to start a prosecution"
Right he couldn't find "just that little bit" because everything he did "find" is complete bullshit and spin. Durham is not as Dumb as Rudy, he knows better than to go to court on MAGA, Q-nut conspiracies. A DOJ IG (Michael E. Horowitz) already looked into this matter and determined that the DOJ acted in accordance with all laws and rules and that operation crossfire was justified. Durhams report was written for the wing-nut media and for sham "hearing" for Gym, MTG et-al to get more air time, it's useless to those of us tethered to reality.
If Durham's report was published as a book, it wouldn't be sold in the "Non-fiction" section.
It would be in a new category right next to the "Speculative Fiction" section: "Wishful Thinking Fiction."