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Once Again It Comes Back To Trump And A Goddamn Terlet
Also fairly sure the terlet is classified.
Earlier this week, we learned that the National Archives and Records Administration had retrieved boxes and boxes of White House documents and other stuff from Donald Trump's trash palace in Florida. Given Trump's penchant for ripping up every piece of paper he ever handled, the biggest surprise was that the Archives didn't simply take 15 boxes of confetti back to Washington. Yesterday, brought us two major developments in the ongoing Paperghazi story.
First, the Washington Post reported that the National Archives has asked the Justice Department to look into all that , please, to determine whether any of it is actually criminal, and also to help retrieve any stuff that belongs to the people of the United States. We'd also suggest the Bidens order an inventory of the White House silverware, just to be on the safe side.
Not long after, the New York Timesadded a detail that may explain that request: In that trove of returned stuff, the Archives found "what it believed was classified information," although the paper's anonymous source didn't specify exactly what that was. Could be anything from a few pages marked "top secret" to the mummified remains of James Comey. You haven't heard anything abouthim lately, have you?
The Times reports that after all those materials were returned from Mar-a-Lago, the archivists going through them found the possibly classified info, which led the agency to "reach out to the Justice Department for guidance," according to the anonymous source, who's described only as "a person briefed on the matter." The DOJ said that was something the inspector general for the National Archives should look into.
The Times goes on to say it's not clear yet what kind of investigating the inspector general has done, or whether the IG had formally referred anything to the DOJ. The story does note that by law,
An inspector general is required to alert the Justice Department to the discovery of any classified materials that were found outside authorized government channels.
Just to be clear, we don't yet know whether it was the Archives IG who asked the DOJ to investigate all this. The Washington Post reports that the agency had asked the Justice Department to "examine Donald Trump’s handling of White House records," and that, according to "two people familiar with the matter,"
Archives officials suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents — including those that might be considered classified — and reached out to the Justice Department[.]
The sources told the Post that discussions so far have been "preliminary" and that it's not yet clear whether DOJ will actually investigate; the story notes that the "department also might be interested in merely reclaiming classified materials."
So far, our favorite detail in both stories is that one of the items the Archives recovered was that map of the predicted track of Hurricane Dorian on which Trump drew a bulge, to prove that he'd been right about the forecast. OF COURSE he took that with him, either to hide away, or Crom only knows, maybe to show to people because you see, he got it right. Other items included a model of a section of WALL Trump liked to keep on his desk, possibly to imagine impaling asylum seekers on , and a scale model of Air Force One with a Trumpian paint scheme that Donald Trump Himself came up with (it's been on display in the lobby of Mar-a-Lago).
Additional retrieved documents retrieved include the letter Barack Obama left in the Oval Office for Trump on Inauguration Day ("Look at the size of your crowd. Mine was bigger."), as well as those beautiful "love letters" Trump received from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Please, National Archives,do not scan those with a black light. History doesn't need to know.
As both stories point out, it's not so clear whether Trump's ripping things up and walking off with records can actually be prosecuted as crimes. The Presidential Records Act, which requires all White House documents and emails and gifts be transferred to the National Archives, doesn't include any penalties or enforcement mechanisms, because when it was written nobody considered the possibility of such a proudly amoral jerk becoming president.
Even if there's classified information in the documents, that could still be very difficult to prosecute, because as both stories note, presidents also have the power to declassify records (and again, nobody anticipated a gleefully lawless president). As the Times explains, the whole question is complicated because of that authority.
It is unclear whether Mr. Trump had declassified materials the National Archives discovered in the boxes before he left office. Under federal law, he no longer maintains the ability to declassify documents after leaving office.
OK, but maybe he actually still has that ability since in reality, he's still president, did you elitists ever consider that?
The Times notes that Trump used that authority multiple times, at least when it was useful politically, particularly when he thought he might undermine the Russia investigation. Also too, this paragraph, which reinforces the impression that for four years, America's nuclear arsenal was at the command of Ralph Wiggum:
Toward the end of the administration, Mr. Trump ripped pictures that intrigued him out of the President’s Daily Brief — a compendium of often classified information about potential national security threats — but it is unclear whether he took them to the residence with him. In one prominent example of how he dealt with classified material, Mr. Trump in 2019 took a highly classified spy satellite image of an Iranian missile launch site, declassified it and then released the photo on Twitter.
The Post also explains that in any potential criminal case, prosecutors would "have to prove that, once out of office, he intentionally mishandled the material or was grossly negligent in doing so."
Then again, we just came upon another tidbit, which we suppose might count as "grossly negligent," or at least fucking gross. According to Axios , Times reporter Maggie Haberman writes in her upcoming book Confidence Man that while Trump was in office, staffers would occasionally find the toilets in the residence clogged with "wads of printed paper," which they assumed had been flushed by the Great Man.
No, Axios doesn't share more than that; nothing about what exactly Trump may have been flushing. Maybe he was just wiping his ass with a printout of the Mueller report. (If it was an unredacted copy, that would be news.)
And as ever, the leak (ew) from Haberman's book makes us wonder again how long reporters with book contracts have been sitting on such juicy smelly details from the bowels of the Trump White House — was this something that could have come out (ew) while Trump was still on the throne?
Yes, we are asking: When did the president shit, and when did Haberman know it? And when will we know more about the apparent return of the White House Plumbers?
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