It was clear for four long years that the former president treated the US government as if he owned it. The government was just another part of his cheesy business “empire”. When it came to following rules, he saw no significant difference between being president of the United States and president of a waste management company in Queens.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that when the former president [hereafter “FPOTUS] was forced to vacate the premises on January 20, 2017, he took with him whatever he wanted. The latest inventory of items taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago shows that he stole an amazing amount of stuff [i.e. stuff that didn’t belong to him] The way the government documents were “stored” in boxes with magazine and newspaper articles and other memorabilia indicates that his staff simply collected what their boss wanted to keep while paying no attention at all to the laws regarding presidential records and national security. Maybe FPOTUS always had a box next to his desk in which he could toss anything that piqued his interest. I hope the FBI eventually interviews the people on his staff who helped him break the law. More from the New York Times:
The F.B.I.’s search of [Mar-a-Lago] last month recovered 48 empty folders marked as containing classified information, a newly disclosed court filing shows, raising the question of whether the government had fully recovered the documents or any remain missing….
Along with the empty folders with classified markings, the F.B.I. recovered 40 more empty folders that said they contained sensitive documents the user should “return to staff secretary/military aide,” the inventory said. It also said that agents found seven documents marked as “top secret” in [FPOTUS’s] office and 11 more in a storage room.
The list and an accompanying court filing from the Justice Department did not say whether all the contents of the folders had been recovered. But the filing noted that the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of the documents remained “an active criminal investigation”. The inventory also sheds further light on how documents marked as classified were stored haphazardly, mixed with everyday items.
Among the items found in one box: 30 news clippings dated from 2008 to 2019, three articles of clothing or “gift items,” one book, 11 government documents marked as confidential, 21 marked as secret and 255 government documents or photographs with no classification markings.
The list suggests the files [FPOTUS] took to his Florida home were stored in a slapdash manner and appeared to underline concerns that [he] had not followed rules for protecting national security secrets.
The inventory listed seven batches of materials taken by the F.B.I. from [his] personal office at Mar-a-Lago that contained government-owned documents and photographs, some marked with classification levels up to “top secret” and some that were not marked as classified. The list also included batches of government documents that had been in 26 boxes or containers in a storage room at the compound.
In all, the list said, the F.B.I. retrieved 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential, and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings….
In obtaining a search warrant, the bureau described the possibility of three crimes as the basis of its investigation: the unauthorized retention of national security secrets, obstruction and concealing or destroying government documents. None require a document to have been deemed to be classified, despite repeated and unproven claims that he had declassified everything he took from the Oval Office.
At the hearing on Thursday, the Justice Department said that it had performed its own review and set aside more than 500 pages of records that could be protected by attorney-client privilege.
But lawyers for the department fiercely contested Mr. Trump’s request for a review of the materials based on executive privilege, which protects confidential executive branch communications from disclosure.
The lawyers argued that executive privilege could not be used by a former president to keep part of the executive branch, like the department itself, from reviewing government files as part of its official responsibilities.
[The judge, a Republican nominated for the federal bench by FPOTUS himself] was not entirely persuaded by that argument and left open the possibility that she would grant [her political patron] a special master to conduct a wide-ranging review, encompassing both attorney-client and executive privilege [even though even Bill Barr, FPOTUS’s former attorney general and lackey, said that makes no sense since executive privilege no longer applies to a private citizen, whether or not the Electoral College once made him president].
He is going to be indicted and found guilty unless he runs away. It’s unclear whether he’ll ever spend a night in jail, since he didn’t steal a six-pack from a liquor store and the law is often an ass.
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