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  • #46
    FBI seized ‘top secret’ documents from Trump home




    WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI recovered documents that were labeled “top secret” from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court papers released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized the unprecedented search this week.

    A property receipt unsealed by the court shows FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from the estate during a search on Monday.

    The seized records include some marked not only top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.

    The warrant says federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

    The property receipt also shows federal agents collected other potential presidential records, including the order pardoning Trump ally Roger Stone, a “leatherbound box of documents,” and information about the “President of France.” A binder of photos, a handwritten note, “miscellaneous secret documents” and “miscellaneous confidential documents” were also seized in the search.

    Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, who was present at Mar-a-Lago when the agents conducted the search, signed two property receipts — one that was two pages long and another that is a single page.

    In a statement earlier Friday, Trump claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified,” and argued that he would have turned them over if the Justice Department had asked.

    While incumbent presidents generally have the power to declassify information, that authority lapses as soon as they leave office and it was not clear if the documents in question have ever been declassified. And even an incumbent’s powers to declassify may be limited regarding secrets dealing with nuclear weapons programs, covert operations and operatives, and some data shared with allies.


    Trump kept possession of the documents despite multiple requests from agencies, including the National Archives, to turn over presidential records in accordance with federal law.

    The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home earlier this year. The Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records.

    It remains unclear whether the Justice Department moved forward with the warrant simply as a means to retrieve the records or as part of a wider criminal investigation. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information, with both criminal and civil penalties, as well as presidential records.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, the same judge who signed off on the search warrant, unsealed the warrant and property receipt Friday at the request of the Justice Department after Attorney General Merrick Garland declared there was “substantial public interest in this matter,” and Trump said he backed the warrant’s “immediate” release. The Justice Department told the judge Friday afternoon that Trump’s lawyers did not object to the proposal to make it public.

    In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents ... I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.”

    The Justice Department’s request was striking because such warrants traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation. But the department appeared to recognize that its silence since the search had created a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, and felt that the public was entitled to the FBI’s side about what prompted Monday’s action at the former president’s home.

    “The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” said a motion filed in federal court in Florida on Thursday.

    The information was released as( Trump prepares for another run for the White House. During his 2016 campaign, he pointed frequently to an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information.

    To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed. Garland said he personally approved the warrant, a decision he said the department did not take lightly given that standard practice where possible is to select less intrusive tactics than a search of one’s home.

    In this case, according to a person familiar with the matter, there was substantial engagement with Trump and his representatives prior to the search warrant, including a subpoena for records and a visit to Mar-a-Lago a couple of months ago by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the documents were stored. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    FBI and Justice Department policy cautions against discussing ongoing investigations, both to protect the integrity of the inquiries and to avoid unfairly maligning someone who is being scrutinized but winds up ultimately not being charged. That’s especially true in the case of search warrants, where supporting court papers are routinely kept secret as the investigation proceeds.

    In this case, though, Garland cited the fact that Trump himself had provided the first public confirmation of the FBI search, “as is his right.” The Justice Department, in its new filing, also said that disclosing information about it now would not harm the court’s functions.

    The Justice Department under Garland has been leery of public statements about politically charged investigations, or of confirming to what extent it might be investigating Trump as part of a broader probe into the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

    The department has tried to avoid being seen as injecting itself into presidential politics, as happened in 2016 when then-FBI Director James Comey made an unusual public statement announcing that the FBI would not be recommending criminal charges against Clinton regarding her handling of email — and when he spoke up again just over a week before the election to notify Congress that the probe was being effectively reopened because of the discovery of new emails.

    The attorney general also condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice Department personnel over the search. Some Republican allies of Trump have called for the FBI to be defunded. Large numbers of Trump supporters have called for the warrant to be released hoping they it will show that Trump was unfairly targeted.

    “I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Garland said of federal law enforcement agents, calling them “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”

    Earlier Thursday, an armed man wearing body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio, then fled and was later killed after a standoff with law enforcement. A law enforcement official briefed on the matter identified the man as Ricky Shiffer and said he is believed to have been in Washington in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol and may have been there on the day it took place.

    ____

    Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

    Comment


    • #47
      Did he declassify them in his head?

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by statquo View Post
        Did he declassify them in his head?
        That's where most of Trump's "reality" occurs, yeah.

        Seen on Twitter:

        "Trump is maintaining both that the information was planted by the FBI and also that Obama probably held onto nuclear secrets. It’s like a choose your own conspiracy adventure book."
        Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

        Comment


        • #49
          A Trump Indictment Over Mishandling Classified Documents Is Now a Very Real Possibility

          The warrant obtained by the FBI to search former President Donald Trump’s office and residence at Mar-A-Lago has been made public, and it is a shocker. And I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but this could be the big one—the case where Trump can’t escape legal accountability.

          Appendix B to the search warrant states that the warrant is to search for evidence of violations of the Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 793, and two other statutes.

          What did former President Trump do that could be considered a violation of the Espionage Act?

          It appears that Trump allegedly held on to top secret records that he originally lawfully possessed after their return had been demanded by the National Archives.

          Section 793(d) of the Espionage Act states “Whoever, lawfully having possession of…any document…relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation…willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it” is guilty.

          Does it matter that former President Trump states that he de-classified the materials found at Mar-A-Lago?

          No.

          Section 793(d) is not restricted to classified materials. Rather, it covers any document “relating to the national defense” that contains information that the possessor has reason to believe would be detrimental to the United States if made public. Here, the search warrant return states that documents seized from Mar-A-Lago include “classified/TS/SCI documents” (meaning Top Secret or Secure Compartmentalized Information), “Top Secret Documents,” “Secret Documents,” and “Confidential Documents.”

          Even if former President Trump de-classified these documents before his term ended, the information contained in those documents would still fall squarely within Section 793(d).

          How do we know that former President Trump was asked to return these documents to the US government?

          In February 2022, the National Archives revealed that former President Trump had brought 15 boxes of materials from the White House to Mar-A-Lago.

          David Ferriero, the National Archivist, wrote to Congress that “NARA has asked the representatives of former President Trump to continue to search for any additional Presidential records that have not been transferred to NARA, as required by the Presidential Records Act.”

          More recently, it was revealed that a subpoena was issued for return of these documents, but that former President Trump did not return all of the documents demanded.

          What penalties does former President Trump face if convicted under the Espionage Act?

          If former President Trump were to be indicted, tried, and convicted under the Espionage Act (all huge ifs), he would face a presumptive sentence of between 14-17.5 years imprisonment.

          The penalty for each count of violation of Section 793(d) is imprisonment of “not more than ten years.” Each document wrongfully retained by former President Trump would constitute a separate count of conviction, meaning that he could face up to 10 years for each document.

          Sentences in the federal system, however, are calculated by reference to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines create a presumptive sentence, from which a District Court judge may depart in their discretion, although, ordinarily, the District Court judge will impose a sentence within the range calculated by the Sentencing Guidelines.

          Violation of the Espionage Act is governed by Section 2M3.2:

          Because Top Secret (and above) information was apparently wrongfully retained by former President Trump, the guideline offense level would be 35. Although there could be upward adjustments for various aggravating factors (such as an abuse of a position of trust), an offense level of 35 and no prior criminal history would expose former President Trump to a presumptive sentence of 168-210 months (14 - 17.5 years).

          What happens next and how long will it take?

          There is likely to be a long period before the next activity in this case becomes public.

          First, because the documents were seized by a search warrant, there is a possibility that some of the documents might be covered by attorney-client privilege. The Department of Justice will use a “taint team” to review the documents for privilege, before handing any of them over to the investigative team of FBI agents and Assistant United States Attorneys. Former President Trump’s attorneys will be able to participate in this process. To the extent that there is any dispute about the privileged status of any of the documents, the decision will be made by a federal judge. This process usually takes weeks or months.

          The DOJ follows a tradition (which is not included in any written DOJ policy) of not taking public action in a politically-sensitive case in close proximity to an election. Depending on who you ask, this unwritten policy means that the DOJ will not indict a case (or otherwise make news) within 60 or 90 days of a general election. The search warrant was executed at Mar-A-Lago 91 days before the midterm elections on November 8.

          When the DOJ emerges from the quiet period after the November 8 elections, the next logical step would be an indictment, which might include charges other than violations of the Espionage Act.

          An indictment of a former President of the United States would be unprecedented. Of course, the actions of former President Trump are likewise unprecedented.
          _______________

          Commit unprecedented crimes expect unprecedented searches, unprecedented investigations, unprecedented indictments, unprecedented trials and unprecedented prison time.

          No one will be happier than me if Donald Trump is indicted...but I'll celebrate only when that actually happens.
          Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

          Comment


          • #50
            So I would assume Trump is either going to have to hire a second lawyer who holds the appropriate National Security Clearance or his current firm is going to have to assign someone from their team to sign before they participate in the document review the process. Which raises an interesting point? If that person reviews a 'Top Secret' document (one Trump clearly had no right to have in his possession) in the presence of the prosecution team can they be called later to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution to that fact - and only that fact? Client attorney privilege shouldn't apply because there's no communication involved. What it would do is force the defense to 'accept/not dispute' the existence of said document at that location at that time. They can still try and attack chain of custody & and refute its presence in Trumps home but these days that's a real uphill battle and I would be gobsmacked if the FBI made any such rookie mistake in a case of such importance.

            Oh and before I forget I know precisely what crime will bring Trump down. Arrogance, total and complete arrogance.
            Last edited by Monash; 13 Aug 22,, 02:17.
            If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

            Comment


            • #51
              “classified/TS/SCI”
              “top secret/sensitive compartmented information”
              10 years in SuperMax, anyone?
              Trust me?
              I'm an economist!

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by Monash View Post
                So I would assume Trump is either going to have to hire a second lawyer who holds the appropriate National Security Clearance or his current firm is going to have to assign someone from their team to sign before they participate in the document review the process. Which raises an interesting point? If that person reviews a 'Top Secret' document (one Trump clearly had no right to have in his possession) in the presence of the prosecution team can they be called later to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution to that fact - and only that fact? Client attorney privilege shouldn't apply because there's no communication involved. What it would do is force the defense to 'accept/not dispute' the existence of said document at that location at that time. They can still try and attack chain of custody & and refute its presence in Trumps home but these days that's a real uphill battle and I would be gobsmacked if the FBI made any such rookie mistake in a case of such importance.
                Yeah as far as I know, this is going to take years to sort out.

                As far as lawyers and Top Secret info is concerned, we could look back at previous espionage cases (take your pick, Walker-Whitworth, Nicholson, Hanssen, Ames, Howard, Pitts etc etc) and see how it was handled....assuming that information is public.

                Even if Trump is indicted, it'll be years before it even goes to trial, almost certainly after Biden's first term in office.

                If it's Biden's only term and a Republican president takes office after him, you can bet his first act will be granting Trump a preemptive full and unconditional blanket pardon.

                This assumes of course that in the meantime Trump doesn't stroke his way out into the hereafter, or completely lose what few marbles he has left.

                (I won't even bother mentioning the mountain of delays and appeals that Trump's legal team will create every step of the way)

                Originally posted by Monash View Post
                Oh and before I forget I know precisely what crime will bring Trump down. Arrogance, total and complete arrogance.
                Looks like it already has

                I will say that I'm somewhat surprised that he finally took his lawyer's advice and kept his mouth shut during the entire deposition in New York. Somebody probably held up this picture and said "Want to see this happen for real? Start talking under oath and it's all yours"

                Click image for larger version  Name:	ad-trump-locked-up-1.jpg?strip=all&quality=100&w=1422&h=800&crop=1.jpg Views:	0 Size:	173.8 KB ID:	1591246

                (Yes, that's hyperbole. A prison sentence isn't possible in a civil suit but the information could be used against him in a criminal trial as well)
                Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

                Comment


                • #53
                  It's still going to be a bad look (and raise legal questions) if a President gives another former President a pardon. It effectively gives every President from that point on card blanche to blatantly commit crimes while in office in the sure and certain knowledge that he'll be pardoned the next time his party win office.
                  If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Monash View Post
                    It's still going to be a bad look (and raise legal questions) if a President gives another former President a pardon. It effectively gives every President from that point on card blanche to blatantly commit crimes while in office in the sure and certain knowledge that he'll be pardoned the next time his party win office.
                    Pro-Trump Republicans and Trump's apologists/minimizers don't care about "bad look" anymore. Certainly the rule of law went out the window years ago for them. Only loyalty to Trump matters.

                    Look at the deflections they're making. They're harping on every little thing, real or imagined, while ignoring the teeny tiny problem of a former president stealing top secret information for personal gain.

                    Originally posted by Monash View Post
                    It effectively gives every President from that point on card blanche to blatantly commit crimes while in office in the sure and certain knowledge that he'll be pardoned the next time his party win office.
                    And that's how democracy dies, triggered by an idiot that led millions of idiots around by the nose.
                    Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Trump and his family watched the FBI search Mar-a-Lago via the property's security feed, says the former president's lawyer
                      • Trump's lawyer said the former president watched the FBI's Mar-a-Lago raid from New York.
                      • Christina Bobb said the property's security cameras transmitted a live feed from the Florida home.
                      • Bobb complained earlier this week about not being able to observe the FBI's search.
                      Former President Donald Trump's attorney said Trump watched from New York as the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Monday.

                      Christina Bobb, one of Trump's lawyers, made this comment during a Thursday appearance on the right-wing media network Real America's Voice. Bobb told host Gina Loudon that, contrary to rumors that the security cameras had been turned off, the property's security feeds were on for most of the FBI's search.

                      "I think the folks in New York — President Trump and his family — they probably had a better view than I did. Because they had the CCTV, they were able to watch," Bobb said.

                      She added that she had not witnessed the raid as she was busy answering investigators' questions, but said the Trump family had seen "the whole thing."

                      "So they actually have a better idea of what took place inside," Bobb said.


                      She added that the cameras were only turned off for a "very short period of time" while agents spoke with lawyers about them being on.

                      Bobb complained this week about not having been allowed to observe the search. She also claimed without substantiation that the FBI could be looking to "make stuff up" about what they found at Mar-a-Lago.

                      "We'll see what they come up with. If they did, it will be interesting — especially since they precluded me from watching what they did," Bobb said.

                      The FBI has not given a reason for why the search of Trump's former residence was carried out, though this may come to light soon if the DOJ's motion to unseal court records regarding the raid goes through.

                      Numerous media outlets along with Trump's son, Eric, have suggested that the search concerned material that Trump may have taken to Mar-a-Lago from the White House. The Washington Post also reported that the FBI had been searching for classified documents about nuclear weapons.

                      In February, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from the former president's Florida residence. It also requested that the Department of Justice investigate whether Trump had broken the law by taking official White House documents to Mar-a-Lago.
                      __________
                      Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Wait a minute.
                        Didn’t Faux News fire Cult 45?

                        Fox News has drawn criticism for sharing a photoshopped image of a US magistrate judge, Bruce Reinhart, who signed the search warrant on the recent FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, sitting on a private plane across from the convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell.

                        Filling in for Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, guest host Brian Kilmeade showed viewers a digitally altered photo of Reinhart holding a bottle of liquor and a pack of Oreo cookies while sitting across from Maxwell with his feet in her lap.

                        “This is the judge in charge of the … of the warrant and we’ll see if he’s going to release it next. He likes Oreos and whiskey,” Kilmeade said.

                        The doctored image was derived from an original photo taken in September 2017 when Reinhart was waiting out a hurricane on his back patio while anticipating watching a New York Giants game.
                        Trust me?
                        I'm an economist!

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          It will be interesting to see if they can establish RICO predicates in the surrounding activities, and then cast a broad net to haul in his co-conspirators. RICO has big sharp teeth.
                          .
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                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Monash View Post
                            So I would assume Trump is either going to have to hire a second lawyer who holds the appropriate National Security Clearance or his current firm is going to have to assign someone from their team to sign before they participate in the document review the process. Which raises an interesting point? If that person reviews a 'Top Secret' document (one Trump clearly had no right to have in his possession) in the presence of the prosecution team can they be called later to give evidence on behalf of the prosecution to that fact - and only that fact?
                            So the one political blog that I regularly read does a Q and A on Saturdays and someone wondered much the same thing:

                            This is down in the weeds of federal criminal evidence, but... if Donald Trump were charged under the Espionage Act for taking national defense documents, wouldn't the Government have to show the documents to the defense and the jury to prove that they are, in fact, national defense documents covered under the Act? I feel like they couldn't just describe them or redact them even.

                            V & Z answer: You're right, this is pretty weedy. And the rules are spelled out in detail in 18a U.S. Code 6, which is also known as the Classified Information Procedures Act.

                            The short version is that the judge imposes a gag order over the whole proceeding, while the government appoints a Classified Information Security Officer (CISO) and several alternates. The CISO's job is to make sure the judicial system has what it needs, while at the same time making sure that secret information stays secret. In some cases, defense lawyers can only review documents in secure rooms, and they might not be allowed to share the contents with their clients.

                            Should either the defense or the prosecution wish to use a classified document in court, then it's up to the judge to review the request and to decide if the document is necessary. If it is, sometimes a redacted version will do the job. More commonly, the judge and the lawyers will agree on a statement of facts that lays out what the classified document would establish, but without revealing the actual classified information. Then, this statement is used in place of the actual document(s). There are also circumstances where a classified document is deemed essential, and cannot be replaced with a redacted or summarized version. In those cases, the judge has to dismiss the relevant charge(s).

                            Keep in mind also that when someone is caught with classified material, they're usually dead to rights, and are best served by copping a plea deal. So, this problem is often avoided in that manner.



                            Supporting or defending Donald Trump is such an unforgivable moral failing that it calls every bit of your judgement and character into question. Nothing about you should be trusted if you can look at this man and find redeemable value

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              I can't wrap my head around this one. This man, who can't sit through a security briefing because it's too boaring. knows what kind of class protected material to take?
                              Chimo

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
                                I can't wrap my head around this one. This man, who can't sit through a security briefing because it's too boaring. knows what kind of class protected material to take?
                                At a guess? Greed and leverage. The former he perceived certain documents as containing potentially juicy he could use to spice a future run for the Presidency, a future business deal he was potentially considering or even just something as mundane a new book deal etc. The latter? Dirt he wants to hold on to for later later use, again potentially in another run for the top job or just as ammo he can use later. Either way its all ego.
                                If you are emotionally invested in 'believing' something is true you have lost the ability to tell if it is true.

                                Comment

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