Rorschach Redactions: What Did Not Happen with the Release of the Mar-a-Lago Affidavit

Below is my column in the Hill on the release of the affidavit leading to the raid on Mar-a-Lago. The redacted affidavit did confirm key points, but the most interesting elements could be what did not happen. That may change now that a federal judge has finally indicated that a special master may be appointed. Since the start of the controversy over the Mar-a-Lago raid, I have called for the release of a redacted affidavit and the appointment of a special master to sort through the seized material, including alleged attorney-client privileged material. (Indeed, the Justice Department just admitted that it may have collected attorney-client privileged material). Such an appointment could result in additional material being returned to the Trump team and a release of additional information on what was seized under this exceptionally broad warrant.

Here is the column:

With Friday’s release of the redacted affidavit from the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, the largest Rorschach test in history seemed to play out on cable television. Instead of ink blots, pundits and politicians stared at pages of solid black lines and offered strikingly different “ah-ha” observations. Some called the matter effectively closed and that, with the redacted affidavit, we have now “finally seen enough. Donald Trump will be indicted by a federal grand jury.”

Likewise, for former Mueller top aide Andrew Weissmann, the affidavit meant one thing — that “the former president is going to be prosecuted.” (Of course, Weissmann once expressed certainty that Donald Trump would pardon himself by his last day in office.)

There already are a plethora of news and opinion columns focusing on the five things we learned from the redacted affidavit. Equally telling, however, is what did not happen with the affidavit’s release.

Due to a series of advance leaks from the government, we already knew some of the affidavit’s contents and the results of the search. The redacted affidavit did confirm important details on past communications and the documents that were previously retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, including the discovery of a large amount of classified documents, from the relatively mundane “confidential” to the highly classified “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” (TS/SCI).

It also was clear that a criminal case could be brought on such allegations, though there is considerable factual and legal uncertainty about any conviction or appeal.

Not clear is whether the Justice Department intends to prosecute the former president. It is entirely possible that beneath the affidavit’s blacked-out lines lurks evidence that the government is building a case for prosecution. However, if one were to go by the unredacted portions, it is also possible this was just a heavy-handed effort to retrieve government material from Mar-a-Lago.

More striking are three things that did not happen.

The most remarkable thing that occurred on Friday is that nothing occurred on Friday. Only a week before, the Justice Department insisted that the court should not release a single line of the affidavit and that any substantive disclosure would unleash a parade of horribles, from damaging national security to sacrificing witnesses.

For those of us who have litigated cases against the Justice Department, it was an all-too-familiar claim by a department notorious for over-classification and over-redaction arguments.

For a week, media pundits mouthed the same exaggerated claims and challenged those of us who argued that it was clearly possible to release a redacted affidavit; liberals suddenly shuddered at the thought of doubting the Justice Department. Sites like Above the Law claimed that calls for greater transparency and a redacted affidavit were akin to “publishing the nuclear codes on the back of every milk carton.” Even after the judge agreed that a redacted affidavit could be released in the public interest, experts balked at the notion as dangerous in light of Justice’s earlier warnings.

As I noted earlier, affidavits contain background legal and factual sections that ordinarily can be unsealed without disclosing sensitive information. That is precisely what happened here. Pages of the affidavit were released that confirmed the legal claims as well as some of the factual allegations. In other words, the Justice Department misrepresented the contents of the affidavit and the dangers of redaction. As in other cases, it falsely claimed that no disclosures could be made without redacting so much as to make the document unintelligible. Yet, no one seemed to notice.

Something else did not happen. In rejecting Justice’s claims that nothing in the affidavit should be released, U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart set out an appellate process by which he could overrule Justice in ordering disclosures beyond those proposed by the department. Given Justice’s well-documented history of over-redacting, it was a promising start.

Then, over the course of the week, media reported a series of leaks of information that clearly was part of the affidavit. At the same time that the government was demanding total secrecy, it was selectively leaking details seemingly designed to put Trump on the defensive.

Given that history, there was every reason for the court to be skeptical of the first cut of the redactions. Yet the court accepted the government’s redactions without question. It effectively found that the Justice Department hit the Goldilocks spot on the first try in getting the redactions just right to maximize disclosures.

This is where those black lines actually may tell us something. While there were key points disclosed, the redactions of the timeline of events notably ended exactly where the leaked information ended. Many of us had stated that the critical period of interest was between June 8 and after the raid on August 8. The June date involved a demand for greater security on the storage room at Mar-a-Lago, with which the Trump team complied. The redacted affidavit only added one day of new information in noting that on June 9, Trump’s counsel acknowledged the receipt of their letter. Then the black-out followed. That information could explain why a raid was needed, as opposed to a second subpoena or a more tailored warrant.

There is every reason to believe that what followed contained some facts that could be released on the FBI’s communications with the Trump team or the breakdown of such communications. After all, the Trump team already knows about that. Yet the government is saying that everything which occurred in that critical month cannot be disclosed in even the smallest detail.

The court could have pushed for additional disclosures but chose to call it a day, based on government representations that more would cause harm. Yet, this is the same department which maintained that all of the pages released this week could not be released without causing harm.

There is still more that can be done by the court. One option is the special master requested, belatedly, by Trump’s team. I previously argued that Attorney General Merrick Garland should have proposed such an appointment to assure the public that this was not a pretextual search using sensitive documents as an excuse for a massive seizure. The scope of the warrant was ridiculously broad, allowing the seizure of virtually every document in the storage room and every document generated during Trump’s presidency. A special master could have sorted through this mass of material and separated privileged or immaterial documents. That would add to the legitimacy of an otherwise unlimited search.

That also did not happen. However, a special master could still serve the same interests of transparency and legitimacy. By dividing these documents into classified material, unclassified but defense-related information, and unclassified material, we would have a better understanding of scope and seriousness of any alleged crimes.

That is why the most curious thing about the redacted affidavit is what did not happen. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Silver Blaze,” a police inspector asks Sherlock Holmes if anything about a crime scene bothered him. The brilliant detective responds, “To the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.” When the confused inspector objects that “the dog did nothing in the night-time,” Holmes replies: “That was the curious incident.”

173 thoughts on “Rorschach Redactions: What Did Not Happen with the Release of the Mar-a-Lago Affidavit”

  1. The admission that privileged material may have been collected is tantamount to an admission that it has been leaked to someone.

  2. Jonathan: I don’t know what you are complaining about. You wanted the search warrant revealed. Done. You wanted the unsealing of the affidavit. Done–with significant redactions approved by Judge Reinhart. You wanted a Special Master appointed to examine all the material recovered from Mar-a-Lago. You apparently have that too.

    The DOJ just announced it has reviewed all the recovered material and a “limited” number of docs might be covered by the atty/client privilege. A Special Master will review the docs and make an independent determination. So now what are you complaining about? You say: “The scope of the warrant was ridiculously broad, allowing the seizure of virtually every document. in the storage room and every document generated during Trump’s presidency”. Several problems with this argument. We don’t know whether all the material recovered was stored just one place–in the “storage room”. In addition, every doc Trump “generated” during his presidency belongs to the people and should have been sent to the National Archives before he left office. He violated federal statutes when he took that material back to Mar-a-Lago.

    Now If Trump had docs arguably covered by the atty/client privilege comingled with other material whose fault is that? Not the FBI. The fault lies with Trump’s legal team. No competent attorney would allow legal opinions or other privileged docs to be co-mingled with with other client material. It’s law school 101! This whole situation reveals that Trump is having a hard time finding competent lawyers to represent him.

    “What did not happen”, to use your phrase, is that Trump was given over a year to return ALL the docs he illegally removed from the WH. He refused and stonewalled many requests by the National Archives. He ignored a subpoena for the material. Had he simply returned ALL the docs he would not now be in so much legal trouble. That is what did not happen!

  3. YOUR HEAD FOR A “SNUB”

    Sir Thomas More

    Indictment, trial and execution

    In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as the Queen of England. Technically, this was not an act of treason, as More had written to Henry seemingly acknowledging Anne’s queenship and expressing his desire for the King’s happiness and the new Queen’s health.[57] Despite this, his refusal to attend was widely interpreted as a snub against Anne, and Henry took action against him…

    More was pleading that the Statute of Supremacy was contrary to the Magna Carta, to Church laws and to the laws of England, attempting to void the entire indictment against him.[51] He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered (the usual punishment for traitors who were not the nobility), but the King commuted this to execution by decapitation.[75]The execution took place on 6 July 1535 at Tower Hill.

    – Wiki

    1. George: How could what happened in 16th century England have any possible relevancy to a possible prosecution of Donald Trump? Unless, of course, you have joined with Justice Alito in believing we should be ruled by the laws extant during the English monarchy–a system rejected when this nation was established. If I had access to a time machine I would send you right back to an era when opponents of monarchial rule could find their heads on the chopping block. Maybe you would be happier there. I suspect Trump would like that kind of power.

      1. YOUR HEAD FOR A “SNUB”

        Trump was the President with sole and full authority to classify and declassify material.

        It’s a tempest in a teapot and much ado about nothing.

        It’s exponentially absurd; it’s the equivalent of disarticulating one’s head for refusing to attend a perfunctory function, even a coronation.

    2. @ George
      Thanks for the Historical reminder (and lesson) in how justice has been reached previously .

      (Its nice ro know that King Henry 8th was kind enough to reduce the punishment for Sir Thomas More to simply ‘Decapitation’.)

      I was motivated to look the story up.

      “In 1533, More refused to attend the coronation of  Anne Boleyn….
      In addition to refusing to support the King’s annulment or supremacy, More refused to sign the 1534 Oath of Succession confirming Anne’s role as queen and the rights of their children to succession. More’s fate was sealed.
      While he had no argument with the basic concept of succession as stated in the Act, the preamble of the Oath repudiated the authority of the Pope….
      His enemies had enough evidence to have the King arrest him on treason….

      The trial was held on 1 July 1535, before a panel of judges that included the new Lord Chancellor,  … Anne Boleyn’s uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, her father Thomas Boleyn,  and her brother George Boleyn. …” !!!

      The GUILTY Verdict took only 15 minutes to be announced.

      Let us hope and trust that any juries in this current matter, as well as any future matters, are impartial and objective.

      @ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_More

  4. It wasn’t the Justice Department that leaked information about was supposedly found at Mar-a-Largo. It was just a little birdie that flew over to The NewYork Times and dropped of the story. How did the little birdie get the so-called oh so sensitive information that no one should be allowed to see. Little birdie in the sky why’d you do that in our eye. It has been reported that the little birdies nest has been found on a ledge of the Justice Department graystone edifice.

  5. Looks like there’s no need for a special master. The government’s latest filing with the court.

    “ Although the government will provide the Court more detail in its forthcoming supplemental filing, the government notes that, before the Court issued its Preliminary Order, and in accordance with the judicially authorized search warrant’s provisions, the Privilege Review Team (as described in paragraphs 81-84 of the search warrant affidavit) identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures set forth in paragraph 84 of the search warrant affidavit to address potential privilege disputes, if any. Additionally, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”) are currently facilitating a classification review of materials recovered pursuant to the search. As the Director of National Intelligence advised Congress, ODNI is also leading an intelligence community assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of these materials.”

    It appears they already finished their review and found a few attorney client privilege documents. Not a lot as was expected and they are in the process of following protocol for returning them.

    https://storage.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.flsd.618763/gov.uscourts.flsd.618763.31.0_5.pdf

    1. Why didn’t Trump treat his attorney-client privileged papers with more security and respect if they are so important, instead of putting them randomly in boxes with papers he stole when he was forced out of the White House? The first 15 boxes of materials he turned over included newspapers and magazines. Why?

      1. You have no Idea where the docs were found. The FBI publicized the fact they broke into on safe.

        Understand the raid represent over 270 man hours of searching. That’s about 7 weeks of labor. Do you think you can dream up a system that would withstand that kind of search?

        1. “ The FBI publicized the fact they broke into on safe”

          Actually it was Trump who did that. When he was whining about the FBI conducting the search warrant he made it known they got into his safe.

  6. I absolutely hate being this cynical, but I expect nothing less at this point. How can any thinking person? It is gobsmacking watching a perfectly intelligent, competent, and cogent person who is aligned with the narrative’s brain switch off in real rime when this sort of thing comes up. I have seen this far too many times to count since 2015. It is not just kids – the dem party seems to have some kind of mind Voodoo on its true believers. How do people think Hitler gained so much power? It wasn’t because he was particularly likable – no, it was because when the **** came down, people were too frightened to say anything to the contrary. The aristocrats legitimately do not want the ‘poor’ in their space, they do not want them to enjoy what they enjoy. During the French Revolution, the aristocracy didn’t believe that poor people could even appreciate food or cleanliness, and yet they co-opt from those people for themselves like it’s going out of style. British people did not invent biryani, but they sure have a whole lotta of recipes for it. we wouldn’t have peanut butter without George Washington Carver. The woke will of course be lost on the irony of his name because they are tiny, ignorant, pampered little balls of entitlement.

    Given the history of at least this country, and how the progenitors of the dems WANTED slavery )psst – the early dems lost the Civil War, and yes, it took it extreme measures. They rebounded with the KKK and Jim Crowe, see ->), founded the KKK, created Jim Crow laws – the mind reels. It isn’t about party, except to our dems. They are literally the only ones. Many otherwise fine adults go along because when it comes to politics or social issues they decided they are on the ‘brand; of morality, and nothing more need be done but fill in the circle for ‘D’. They realy do believe that anyone in disagreement is a bucktoothed Cletus married to their first cousin, or an inexplicable holdover from WWII era Nazis that thinks everything that isn’t ‘white’ should be killed. I will not sacrifice my life or autonomy for people too lazy and self-righteous to actually mingle with people different from them.

    And that is why I refer to them as a regime. Some go as far as to refer to them as a church, and I have a more and more difficult time disagreeing. The only thing that isn’t about freedom in the 21st century seems to be formerly classical liberals’ minds, and that transcends everything other than living in a human body, as we all live in the same dang world. That should tell us all something, and yet, it doesn’t, time and time again over the past six or seven years.

    1. James: you are SO delusional, and it is truly frightening. How can people like you be so blind to facts? Starting with Trump’s image as a “master dealmaker” and “very stable genius”: The facts prove that Trump never was the “self-made” boy wizard billionaire he promotes himself to be. He is someone who has repeatedly failed at multiple businesses: A partial list: Trump Magaizne; “Paris Is Out” (failed Broadway play), USFL NJ Generals (running now successfully with another owner), 3 Trump Casinos, Trump Board Game, Trump Shuttle; 2 Trump beers, Trump vodka, and soft drinks, Trump Steaks, Trump University ($25 M settlement for fraud), Trump Tower, FL, “Go Trump” Shuttle, Trump Mortgage Co, Trump Steakhouse, Las Vegas, Trump International Hotel, “From the Desk of Donald Trump”. There were 6 business bankruptcies and thousands of lawsuits for failing to pay valid debts. His father supported him well into his forties. 2 failed marriages. Trump has failed at more ventures and has been sued for failing to pay his bills than most people would experience in several lifetimes.

      He cheated his way into office in 2016 despite losing the popular vote. He set a record for low approval ratings. He took the successful economy he inherited from our first black POTUS and drove it into the ground–unemployment 10%+, started a trade war with China, resulting in shortages of computer chips and consumer goods, his utter incompetence caused the pandemic to spiral out of control, causing the country to shut down for about 2 years. School children still haven’t caught up, businesses, factories and restaurants had to shut down, and some never reopened. An estimated 130,000 people died of COVID unneessarily while he was promoting fake cures like Hydroxychloroquine and attacking the integrity of our brave scientists, all the while trying to take credit for the vaccine their skill and hard work created. Was impeached twice–once for trying to leverage aid appropriated by Congress for Ukraine, and for starting an insurrection because he isn’t man enough to admit he lost the election in 2020, just like very poll predicted he would. Now, we find out he stole classified documents related to national security, claims they belong to him even though he was told differently, resisted efforts to reclaim them and forced the DOJ to get a search warrant. He’s portraying himself as a victim of the crisis he caused, and is profiting from it financially and politically. And, you hate Democrats and equate them with Nazis?

      If anyone is living a a delusional world of the cult of personality, it’s people like you who are blind to the reality of Donald Trump. You actually believe he’s some kind of victim of a “deep state” out to get him. Do you really want documents disclosing our sources and methods stored in a closet at a beach resort where anyone could take them, copy them and/or sell them? Do you really believe that Democrats or those independents and Republicans who oppose Trump ” are tiny, ignorant, pampered little balls of entitlement.”? That’s what’s scary about people like you–you are immune to facts and you fall for all of the alt-right culture wars rhetoric.

      Here’s a clue pal: mainstream media do NOT teach the sort of hatred and culture war garbage you fell for. You won’t hear NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC or CNN telling you not to believe what you hear on pro-Trump media or calling people names like “the woke”, or “Dems”, “libtards” or “the Left”, and that’s just one difference between media that spread propaganda (like Fox, OAN, NewsMax, InfoWars, Breitbart and their ilk) and mainstream media.

      1. Look in the mirror honey. YOU are the delusional one. Every one of your posts is crazy…but, that is all you can expect when they have Orange Man Bad living rent free in their head 24/7.

        1. Natacha ain’t Natacha. It is a parody account…which dovetails nicely to Monty Python’s argument skit. Hysterical. Reminds me of the many comments/arguments on here

          1. Estovir,
            In my opinion, there are two kinds of people on this blog, the ones that make genuinely sincere efforts to argue in good faith and those like Natacha and Svelaz who try to gaslight others into thinking that they are arguing in good faith or they simply could care less about arguing in good faith. These people are fools and they’re willing to sell their souls to the Democratic Party and become willing unethical tools for the cultish “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party’s political machine, they’re obviously political hacks and internet trolls trying to disrupt good faith arguments. These trolls are likely paid to incite those they oppose. These trolls should be completely ignored.

            TROLL: Those that post inflammatory or extraneous and sometimes off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or disrupt normal good-faith discussions, this is often for their own amusement.

            Try not to feed the trolls.

            1. Is there ANY progressive here who you don’t consider a troll / don’t suspect of being a paid to troll? If not, then you might be a tad biased.

              1. Anonymous asked a fair question, “Is there ANY progressive here who you don’t consider a troll / don’t suspect of being a paid to troll?”

                The answer is, yes. In fact Anonymous, I don’t consider MOST of the “progressive” Democrats here or out in the real world to be trolls. I reserve using the word troll except in very obvious situations where the definition clearly applies, I’ve stated that many times around here.

                Do I think that “progressive” (that’s an oxymoron, they’re actually regressive) Democrats in general are not thinking critically and are misguided ideological fools, yes I do, but not trolls. I still have very close friends that are moderate liberal Democrats, as in classic liberals¹, and we have very good discussions about all sorts of things including political policies. Unfortunately real classic liberals are becoming few and far between, too many are rationalizing becoming ends justifies the means ideologically entrenched Liberals² who cannot see beyond “progressive” (think anti-status quo) leaning ideology and have literally become anti-liberty, anti-American, anti-Constitution illiberal³ fools, sheeple.

                Anonymous wrote, “If not, then you might be a tad biased.”

                I have never denied bias towards the actions and opinions of anti-liberty, anti-American, anti-Constitution illiberal fools, they have earned their public scorn. I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and bear true faith and allegiance to the same and I’ll do that (including online) till the day I die.

                Also; I have never denied an extreme bias towards the actions of internet trolls. For the most part internet trolls present themselves as political hacks trying to elicit pure emotional responses from others so they can smear them. Internet trolls are unethical and immoral hacks. Internet trolls have earned their public scorn and everyone on all sides of the political divide that considers reasonable civility in discourse as an acceptable cultural norm should scorn internet trolls.

                ¹liberal: (classic liberal) 1. willing to respect or accept behavior or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas. 2. relating to or denoting a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise.

                ²Liberal: supporter of political policies that are socially progressive and promote social welfare.

                ³illiberal: opposed to liberal principles; restricting freedom of thought or behavior.

                That’s probably not the answer you expected but it’s the God’s honest truth.

                1. Steve, thanks for answering my question.

                  FWIW, I think that many of the criticisms that you post about Democrats are just as true of Republicans, especially Trumpists.

                  I also don’t consider Svelaz and Natacha to be “unethical and immoral hacks,” but I recognize that people often have widely different opinions about something; such is the case here.

        2. What have I wrtten that is factually unsupportable? The following are public record: Trump’s string of business failures, Trump’s lawsuits and bankruptcies, his divorces, the statistics on the economy he inherited and the mess he left for Biden, the impeachments, the polls predicting his losses in 2016 and 2020, the fact that he took NARA documents and fought to keep them and all of the rhetoric spewed by OAN, Fox, NewsMax, InfoWars Breitbart, etc.

          So, instead of some intellectual discussion or disagreement, you say I’M the one who is delusional and crazy. You have no facts with which to counter the truth, so you do what your hero does: attack the person who points out the truth.

    2. LAZY AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS??? FREEDOM OR COMMUNIST ENSLAVEMENT?

      ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS INVASION – FORCED BUSING/WELFARE/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, ETC., ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL

      IMMIGRATION LAW ON JAN. 1, 1863 WAS THE NATURALIZATION ACT OF 1802 REQUIRING IMMEDIATE COMPASSIONATE REPATRIATION

      IN A SOCIETY OF LAWS, THE LAWS MUST BE ADHERED TO AND ENFORCED
      __________________________________________________________________

      “I will not sacrifice my life or autonomy for people too lazy and self-righteous to actually mingle with people different from them.”

      – James
      _______

      “It’s the [Constitution], stupid!”

      – James Carville
      _____________

      WATER AND OIL DO NOT MIX

      “Water and oil do not mix. They are said to be immiscible. This is because water is a polar molecule – its structure means that is has a positive charge one end and a negative charge the other end. Water molecules stick together because the positive end of one water molecule is attracted to the negative end of another.”

      – February 12, 2020 By Emma Vanstone
      ________________________________

      Freedom? What Freedom?

      Unconstitutionally forcing the physically impossible mixture of political “oil and water” requires the unconstitutional emulsifiers of matriculation affirmative action, grade-inflation affirmative action, employment affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, minimum wage, rent control, social services, forced busing, public housing, utility subsidies, WIC, SNAP, TANF, HAMP, HARP, TARP, HHS, HUD, EPA, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

      How has it come to pass that communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) have obtained the unconstitutional power to compel the political mixture of oil and water in a society created in freedom? Answer: It all began with “Crazy Abe’s” unconstitutional juggernaut, Lincoln’s wholly unconstitutional “Reign of Terror.”

      Letter of congratulation and commendation from Karl Marx to Abraham Lincoln: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/iwma/documents/1864/lincoln-letter.htm

      Ben Franklin et al. gave Americans a [restricted-vote] republic (representatives elected by citizens “entitled” to vote) under the dominion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, if only they could “keep it.”

      They couldn’t.
      ____________

      The American Founders On Discordant Intermixture
      __________________________________________

      “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

      – Alexander Hamilton
      _________________

      “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom?”

      “If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

      – Thomas Jefferson

  7. It’s been several days since the raid. If the DOJ had anything, they would have paraded it out in front of us by now.

    1. No, they wouldn’t, for the same reason that they didn’t want to unseal the affidavit: the investigation is ongoing. The Privilege review team finished their review, and now it does to the ODNI.

    1. RE:”The only Rorschach is Trump enablers that muddy up the waters’ Patience will determine if outcomes support your conclusion.

    2. Turley’s prose is a study in partisan weasel wordsmithing. He accuses “the government” of leaking information from the Affidavit without any proof, because this diverts from the serious matter that Trump stole the documents in the first place. He ignores the implications of an election loser taking our most-sensitive documents after being told not to, storing them in an unsecure location in a beach resort, failing to fully respond to a subpoena, and fighting to keep them. He ignores a failed politician portraying himself as a victim of the “deep state” when the government is forced to obtain a search warrant to compel the documents to be returned, complains when the election loser has co-mingled attorney-client papers with classified national security documents and complains because the search warrant is “over broad”. Because an indictment may be forthcoming, Turley was FORCED to admit that there’s enough evidence to charge Trump with crimes, but ignores Lindsey Graham promising violence if the DOJ treats Trump like any other person who has wrongfully taken classified documents.

  8. RE:”Likewise, for former Mueller top aide Andrew Weissmann..,: “By any means necessary” Weissman is what’s wrong with the legal profession and it’s newly minted advocates. He wrecked J..Arthur Anderson and was trounced by SCOTUS 9-0 for the way he did so. His reward after Mueller and retirement was to be appointed to the faculty of NYU Law School. That he might have been the actual lead, and architect for the Mueller investigation is something I still suspect. Critical information Mueller admitted to not knowing when he appeared before the committee. boggles the mind. Pray that there’s a special place at the bar in Hell for Andrew Weissman.

  9. There is an issue about this whole thing that is not being addressed – why did the FBI go to a magistrate rather than a judge for their warrant? The Constitution gives judicial power to judges, not magistrates, who are assistants to judges, are not elected or sanctioned by the Senate. I suspect they couldn’t find a judge willing to get involved so they went to Rinehart because they knew he didn’t like Trump and thought they could get away with it. This thing is going to the Supreme Court and they will throw it out. By the way, for a former president to have classified information is no crime. Obama had classified information at his facility too. We don’t know what kind of information they had. Just that it was once classified is meaningless because the government classifies everything it wants to keep from the public.

      1. Yea, because raiding the home of a President happens all the time. Especially for handling top secret documents, when he has non-reviewable power to change that status.

  10. If we have learned anything in the last 6 years the government cannot be trusted and lies, lies, lies. Exs. Trump’s collusion with Russia was a hoax generated by Clinton campaign with the assist of Russians and the fbi, who knew from the beginning it was a hoax. Laptop(s) does belong to Hunter Biden and fbi knew that from the beginning of their possession of it in 2019. Now we have the curious case of a magistrate (not a judge) signing off on a unprecedented raid on a former president when prior disputes on documents have been handled differently, see Bill Clinton’s sock drawer as an example. A magistrate who had recused himself earlier from a case involving Trump, now inserts himself in a case involving Trump (his negative public comments on Trump should have kept him,’appearances,’ from involvement in this chicanery)??

  11. “ The court could have pushed for additional disclosures but chose to call it a day, based on government representations that more would cause harm.”

    It was based on proof that mods could cause harm and the judge agreed.

    Turley knows that affidavits are rarely made public before charges are filed. I’m this case the DOJ was not even obligated to make the warrant public despite the fact that Trump’s lawyers could.

    Turley continues to falsely claim the government was leaking information without evidence that they actually did.

    Turley is not wanting to focus on Trump’s increasing legal prospects of prosecution for criminal obstruction and is instead trying to make the DOJ look like it is doing something wrong to Trump because they are doing everything by the book AND Trump has not been cooperating despite claims he has. When a subpoena is issued and a search warrant is issued that doesn’t spell out “cooperation”.

        1. It wasn’t a raid. A raid would have been conducted without prior warning. The secret service and the MAL attorneys were notified before they went there. They did it in the middle of the day.

          It was a search done according to the law.

      1. It was a raid. Left-wing media were the first to call it a raid until they were told it wasn’t a raid. It is amazing how your mind must follow the left-wing media even when the left-wing media changes direction.

        You need a mind of your own.

        1. “Raid” is a loaded word that conjures up images of a sudden invasion in the middle of the night, with agents breaking down doors with battering rams and guns drawn, instead of execution of a lawful search warrant the DOJ was forced to obtain in order to repatriate the documents Trump stole. It’s a word calculated to instill anger and to distort the facts–more red meat for the disciples–one of Turley’s assignments.

          1. In other words, things are not what they are. They are things you wish them to be. You make no sense, but you don’t need to make sense to post on the blog. Svelaz is worse. He makes things up and contradicts himself at the same time. Are you guys worse than the MSM? No. They have the people’s trust that they abuse when changing the word they used, raid, to satisfy the Democrat political machine that says the word raid doesn’t sound good. Then the MSM tells everyone using the word raid that they are fools since it wasn’t a raid. Hypocrisy is what you guys purvey.

            What you are really saying is that you don’t know what you are talking about.

            1. Webster defines raid:
              A surprise attack by a small armed force. 2. A sudden forcible entry into a place by police: a raid on a gambling den. 3. An entrance into another’s territory for the purpose of seizing goods or valuables.
              Webster defines search warrant

              Webster defines search warrant:
              a warrant authorizing a search (as of a house) for stolen goods or unlawful possessions

              There was no forcible entry. The search warrant was shown and entry was allowed. Secondly, the search was authorized.

              Conspiracy nuts play loose with words they know no definition of.

              1. Reminds of Obama, when the military did not engage in a battle. It was a “kenetic action”

                Leftist are forced to change the meaning of simple words. Hell, even a SCOTUS Justice refused to define the word “woman” because she hadn’t been issued that mornings dictionary with all the updated, approved “definitions”

                Its a core feature of Authoritarian propaganda.

  12. This is such mickey-mouse posturing by DOJ. There’s nothing to prosecute here, just as there was nothing to prosecute over the Hillary emails. “Confidential” material? Seriously? Even top secret material is for the most part grossly over-classified. If what the feds wanted was to secure the materials, and Trump is such a goof that he wouldn’t let them without the warrant, it’s no harm no foul. But criminally prosecuting a former POTUS? There would have to be a really good reason. Really good. This isn’t even a close call. Just some bluster to keep the partisans ginned up. Disgusting abuse of power, actually.

    1. We have no idea what the DOJ knows that we do not.

      For all we know, they do have a really good reason to prosecute. For example, if he was in illegal possession of national defense information, failed to secure it properly, let people without security clearances view it, and attempted to obstruct the DOJ’s investigation into his illegal possession, then I think that is a good reason to prosecute. You may have a different opinion about it though. According to you, what wold be a really good reason to prosecute?

      1. “We have no idea what the DOJ Mueller knows that we do not. ”

        This is just a stupid replay of the exact same talking points. With the exact same results. A politically corrupt DoJ has created a smoke screen to protect themselves and the Democrat Party

      2. LOL hard to think of any short of murder or something. He was always an inappropriate president. I get that. But people elected him when they caught on that the mainstream parties regard them as a “basket of deplorables”.

        I still maintain that Trump as POTUS is not a big deal, the Republic can survive it just fine – indeed, has – but the shrieking frenzy over him actually is a threat to the Republic. And a mickey-mouse criminal prosecution over “classified material” might wind up being a fatal blow to the country.

        Just let him fade off into Florida and NYC. Stop talking about him.

        1. You’re confusing classified info and national defense info. These sets intersect but are not the same.

          No one should be above the law, and whether or not he should be indicted depends on whether there’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed crimes. Neither of us knows that right now. We do already know that he was in illegal possession of highly restricted national defense information, because that was in the affidavit and has not been contested by Trump’s lawyers.

          1. There’s always evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that someone committed mickey-mouse “crimes” like this. You seem unable to appreciate the stakes when the incoming administration starts prosecuting the outgoing administration. No one should be above the law is a pious bromide, but in practice kind of meaningless.

            1. You think potentially exposing confidential human informants is a “mickey-mouse ‘crime'”?

              You seem unwilling to appreciate the stakes if the outgoing President refuses to abide by laws that are part of our national defense.

              I disagree that it’s meaningless. If Joe Schmo would be charged for it, then a powerful person should also be charged for it.

              1. All confidential human informants are “potentially” exposed. Classified material, including national defense material, is improperly stored all the time, by many Joe Schmoes, some higher up, some not. I assume you were just as adamant that Hillary should have been prosecuted for having classified documents on an unsecured server. But I don’t think she should have been prosecuted either. Difference is, we probably are going to wind up prosecuting Trump.

                1. There’s a difference between improper storage within the government and illegal possession / refusal to return when asked / refusal to return when subpoenaed / storage in a location where foreign nationals are sometimes wandering around.

                  Clinton should have turned everything over and required a taint team to review the communications and return the non-government ones, But Ivanka and Jared acted similarly to Clinton, and I’m not calling for them to be prosecuted either.

                  I’m not even calling for Trump to be prosecuted, as I simply do not yet know enough. I don’t understand why so many people have difficulty saying “we don’t know yet” and waiting til we know more. You want to dismiss it all as “Mickey Mouse,” and I will not join you in that.

              2. “You think potentially exposing ”

                ATS Beria, ‘potential’ crimes always exist so why not put all our enemies in jail.

          2. As the Commander in Chief of the military. The President would have exactly the same plenary power to determine what National Defense Material is appropriate for public access. Exactly like the very structured system of classification, that the President has absolute and unreviewable power to waive. The test would be the same. Can a sitting President publicize National Defense Information at his whim? Yes he can. He, as the CiC makes that decision. There is no Constitutional Power for the Judiciary to arbitrate a difference of opinion.
            Like the Warrant, NDI overly broad to be enforceable. Some authority would have to have final say on what information can be made public.
            We know how many US troops are in Poland. I’m suppose to believe some person with stars on their color can issue a press release, but the President can’t?

              1. The above is a meaningless statement.

                Trump did nothing wrong and did not enter the White House illegally after his Presidency. You are creating legal issues where none exist. The entire dispute is political and an abuse of power by the government.

                1. Once again, Meyer, you demonstrate your difficulty following a conversation on the page. The statement was directly responsive to the comment it was posted in reply to, not “meaningless.”

                  1. Then you would be able to defend and make your point – with facts logic reason.

                    If your remark was on point – that should be self evident. few should be confused.

                    1. I already made my point, which consisted of two facts: (1) Trump is no longer President, and (2) he has never asserted that there is no NDI in the materials that were taken in the search.

                      No one here has disputed those facts.

                    2. “I already made my point, which consisted of two facts: (1) Trump is no longer President, and ”
                      Correct, but he WAS president at the time any of the confiscated material was transfered to MAL.
                      Which is the only time that is relevant.

                      “(2) he has never asserted that there is no NDI in the materials that were taken in the search.”
                      Incorrect – His attorney’s have asserted under oath that there was no classified information at MAL.
                      Trump had to sign that too.

                      “No one here has disputed those facts.”
                      I just did.

                    3. Your response – which is mostly correct, does not address your blanket claim of errors on my part.
                      If fact by claiming no one here disputes your two assertions, you are asserting that these are NOT part of your blanket claim of error on my part.

                      If you are going to accuse me of wide spread and signficiant error, you owe me and everyone else here some evidence for that assertion.

                      Posting two things that you claim are not disputed is not evidence of error on my part.

                  2. Congratulations ATS, you finally realized Trump is no longer President. (“Trump is not President”) If you think the statement meaningful, you aren’t very smart.

            1. NOT. Not after he is no longer President he has not tight to retain docs and defy a supeona to return them.
              Are you that blind?

    2. The affidavit does not actually say that the materials recovered from MAL in January contained national defence information. Instead it says that the documents were marked as classified and that, based on his experience, the affiant concluded that documents so marked could contain NDI. It appears that only now will the DNI assess what the documents contain. If there had been real concern about the risks posed by Trump’s possession of these documents, wouldn’t a prompt review have been conducted? Just another reason to doubt the narrative being presented.

      1. Daniel,

        First, we don’t know what the bulk of the affidavit says, because the bulk of it remains redacted. In an unredacted section, the affiant said “the FBI agents observed markings reflecting the following compartments/dissemination controls: HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI. Based on my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels typically contain NDI.” It wasn’t simply that the documents were marked classified, but the specific kinds of classifcation markings, such as HCS, which stands for HUMINT (human intelligence) Control System, which includes foreign confidential informants. That’s a kind of NDI.

        Yes, this morning the DOJ advised Judge Cannon that “before the Court issued its Preliminary Order, and in accordance with the judicially authorized search warrant’s provisions, the Privilege Review Team (as described in paragraphs 81-84 of the search warrant affidavit) identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures set forth in paragraph 84 of the search warrant affidavit to address potential privilege disputes, if any. Additionally, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”) are currently facilitating a classification review of materials recovered pursuant to the search. As the Director of National Intelligence advised Congress, ODNI is also leading an intelligence community assessment of the potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure of these materials.”

        Re: “wouldn’t a prompt review have been conducted?,” don’t you expect them to first do what they did: have a Privilege Review Team review everything to exclude potential privilege dispute items? If not, what were you expecting?

    3. So what documents classified as top secret have you seen? I served for 25 years in the US Navy. I had a NATO TS clearance. I’ve seen documents classified as top secret. They are classified as such for a reason.

      1. I’ve seen plenty of TS, S, C. USN as well. But I can’t talk about it. Sworn to secrecy! Or then again, I could tell you, but then I’d have to……

      2. My point was that no intelligence assessment appears to have been made yet of the documents marked classified, despite their having been in the possession of the government from the beginning of the year. And the affidavit says nothing about what is in the documents beyond the statement that, based on his experience, the affiant believes that documents marked classified contain national defence information, a term he notes is construed very broadly.

        This way of proceeding seems inconsistent with the notion that there was a real concern here that Trump’s possession of the documents created grave national security risks justifying an unprecedented search and seizure.

        1. Daniel,

          “My point was that no intelligence assessment appears to have been made yet of the documents marked classified, despite their having been in the possession of the government from the beginning of the year.”

          The affidavit doesn’t say that. First, it is limited to what the affiant is aware of, and there is no reason to expect the ODNI to report back to the affiant what the results of the ODNI’s review were, unless necessary for the warrant and unless the affiant has a security level sufficient to get that information from ODNI. We know from the NARA letter released earlier (after Trump’s side gave it to John Solomon) that NARA turned the earlier records over to the FBI no earlier than May 12. In the unredacted section, the affiant said that “From May 16-18, 2022, FBI agents conducted a preliminary review of the FIFTEEN BOXES provided to NARA and identified documents with classification markings in fourteen of the FIFTEEN BOXES.” So personally, I’d expect that the classified material went to ODNI for review by May 18 or so. We know that the ODNI is already reviewing the items recovered this month, so there’s zero reason to expect that they didn’t have a similar timetable for review of the items recovered earlier in the year.

          “the affiant believes that documents marked classified contain national defence information, a term he notes is construed very broadly.”

          The affidavit lists specific kinds of classified material markings: “HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI.” Mark Hertling: “For those interested: -ORCON =“originator control” -NOFORN = “no foreign nationals” (should see these documents) -HCS = HUMINT (human intelligence) Control System. -SI = COMINT (communication intelligence, or intercepts) Special Intelligence.” About those markings, he added “Just wow. This is jaw dropping.”

          “This way of proceeding seems inconsistent …”

          I think you’re judging that based on unwarranted assumptions.

          1. Beleifs are not facts,
            and there is no source in the current administration that half the country is going to trust to review any of this.

            Next, you can spray accronym’s – most of which only amplify this in your mind, but in reality none of those tell us much – as those are abused in govenrment all the time.

            Each bit of additional information we get makes it more likely these are the collusion delusion documents Trump declassified.

            If so the alphabet soup of classification markings you cite is jaw dropping ? How could an investigation driven by a known hoax gather so many significant classifications ?

            It took pulling teeth to get most of the FISA warrant – and in the end what we learned is this highly classified document had nothing that ever should have been classified in it.

          2. Stories are floating that appear to be true that the ASAC of the DC FBI office has been forceably removed from his offices and probably fired. This is early so the details may be wrong.
            But this agent has ties to the Clintons, to the Whitmer entrappment, to the collusion delusion, to the hunter biden supression, and to the MAL raid. And apparently to supression of 2020 voter fraud investigations.

            There are apparently other agents in the DC office under a cloud as a result of whistle blower allegations and an ongoing investigation by none other than IG Horowitz.

            If there is any truth to this at all – this just makes things much worse for DOJ/FBI

              1. Nikki Halley has also announce a Lawsuit against the NY AG’s office for releasing the donor list of her 501C3 that was obtained by the NY AG from the IRS. The copy of the donor’s list provided to the media was stamped by the NY AG’s office.

                Haley is also demanding a criminal investigation by the DOJ – leaking IRS tax documents is a federal crime.

                I warned that all these left wing nuts winning demands for Tax returns was ulimately going to bite them in the ass.
                Again leaking tax returns is a federal crime. When your House comittee or AG’s office receives something that it is illegal to leak – that very few others in the world have – the risk of criminal prosecution when the documents somehow becomes public is high.

  13. Jonathan wrote, “The court could have pushed for additional disclosures but chose to call it a day, based on government representations that more would cause harm. Yet, this is the same department which maintained that all of the pages released this week could not be released without causing harm.”

    This is a very important point.

    The trickling out of supposedly damaging narratives about President Trump is a verifiable pattern. The political left has shown its pattern of propaganda lies within their narratives so many times over the last 6+ years that it’s beyond me why anyone would blindly accept any anti-Trump narrative that the political left, their DOJ, their FBI, and their lapdog media actively push?

    Are these people so embroiled in their Trump derangement that they don’t understand what collusion is?

    Collusion: secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.

    Conspiracy: a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

    Soft Coup: A soft coup, sometimes referred to as a silent coup, is a coup d’état without the use of violence, but based on a conspiracy or plot that has as its objective the taking of state power by partially or wholly illegal means, in order to facilitate an exchange of political leadership – and in some cases also of the current institutional order. A soft coup is used by populists who seek the centralization of power but do so under the pretense of improving democracy.

  14. Yet again, Trump’s lawyers did not say anything about “alleged attorney-client privileged material.” They have only ever mentioned executive privilege, not A-C privilege.

    We have no idea whether the media reporting came from government “leaks” versus from Trump’s side. You shouldn’t pretend to know.

    “There is every reason to believe that what followed contained some facts that could be released on the FBI’s communications with the Trump team or the breakdown of such communications. After all, the Trump team already knows about that.”

    Trump is totally free to release his communications with the FBI / DOJ. He is choosing not to, just as the DOJ is choosing not to. Yet you only fault the DOJ.

    “A special master could have sorted through this mass of material and separated privileged or immaterial documents.”

    And if Trump’s lawyers were competent, they could have requested on the same day as the search, and the Judge could have put a stay on the processing. Alas, he does not have competent lawyers, as is clear from the mess of their filings, and their extreme tardiness in making requests. The issue won’t even be decided until sometime after the hearing later this week. For all we know, the FBI has already processed all of the items taken in the search.

  15. …the Justice Department insisted that the court should not release a single line of the affidavit and that any substantive disclosure would unleash a parade of horribles, from damaging national security to sacrificing witnesses.

    When Nixon did not cooperate with investigators it was called obstruction of justice. When Biden’s handlers do it, it is called protecting national security.

    Meanwhile Biden’s chaotic, irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan cost

    the lives of 13 American service personnel
    untold number of deaths or persecution of Arabs who were loyal US allies
    left behind more than $7 Billion in US military weapons and equipment
    accelerated the killing, abusing, torturing of women, children and minorities by the Taliban
    and now Biden’s people in the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are refusing to cooperate with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s office

    Americans should be concerned with Biden possibly violating the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice, not that the legacy media will cover it.

    As required by Section 1229(h)(5)(B) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (“NDAA for FY 2008”), Pub. L. No. 110‐181, it is my duty to report that the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (“USAID”) are unreasonably refusing to provide information and assistance requested by SIGAR, in direct violation of Section 1229(h)(5)(A) of the NDAA for FY 2008 (requiring the agency to provide information and assistance upon request) and Section 6(c)(1) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended. …..Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s office (SIGAR) audits are also being hindered by a lack of cooperation from State and USAID. The first evaluates your agencies’ compliance with the laws and regulations prohibiting transfers of funds to members of the Taliban and the Haqqani Network

    https://republicans-oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022-06-22-SIGAR-Congressional-Notification-Re-State-and-USAID-Cooperation.pdf

  16. After seeing how the FBI handled the Clinton email controversy and then the Crossfire Hurricane fraudulent investigation, I couldn’t care any less about what case the FBI/DOJ believes they have against Trump.

    With every passing day of persecuting Trump, Democratic party incompetence and Biden’s disastrous policies, the America First movement grows. They cannot indict, prosecute and imprison Trump without convincing the America First base they aren’t being convicted as well.

    1. “After seeing how . . .”

      You mean you are taking seriously history and motivation? You are not a young baby, for whom every experience is new and unique?

      That’s not very Modern of you.

  17. DOJ/FBI are following the old “Trust us” playbook.

    Not enough given recent partisan actions and dubious prosecutions like the Michigan kidnapping.

    If Garland wants to be trusted, then he needs to earn that trust.

    1. momumentcolorado, it’s too late to “earn that trust”. Consistently behaving as they (DOJ, et al) have under his leadership, is proof of who they are. As always, believe people when they show you who they are.

  18. so does everyone agree the Democrats are Fascists…using Government, media, big tech, big bank, business, law enforcement, etc to destroy opponents? Wonder How Democrats will feel as Republican Majority turns the tables.

    You will be given no quarter! Democrats don’t believe in the RULE OF LAW…and are fighting a SECOND Civil War.

    1. National Socialist Democrat Party.

      At some point the 2nd Amendment will be used as the remedy. 700 million guns in circulation according to the ATF and the Socialist don’t posses the bulk of them. Note to the Socialist ownership is not marksmanship or tactics.

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