For the last 23 days it’s been almost a national obsession. Can you believe it? Trump took boxes of secrets back to Florida with him! It’s all the media talks about, it’s all the analysts talk about, it’s in every newspaper.
Why not? It’s a natural. Boxes of secret documents, how Robert Ludlum is that? And like Geico, it’s simple enough for a caveman to understand. After all, it’s just boxeds and some secret documents, right? Hell, everybody knows that looks like.
Wrong. You’ve likely never seen a secret document. I know I haven’t, and neither has anybody I know. And while you can imagine what a steak must taste like from the smell rising from the plate, until you pop it in your mouth and chew, you can’t know.
Take a look my friends, take a good long look. That’s what boxes of stolen secret documents look like. You know what else that looks like? That’s exactly what flagrant violations of the Presidential Records Act looks like. It’s precisely what violations of The Espionage Act look like. And it’s a dead ringer for what criminal obstruction of justice looks like. Look anything like you imagined? I’m guessing no. There’s just something slap-in-the-face about actually seeing it.
There were at least two good reasons I can think of for Garland having enclosed that photo in the filing. First, it should shut up sniveling quibbledicks like Lindsey Graham from threatening mob violence. Hey, shit-for-brains! Think maybe there was justification for the search now?
The second reason is what we’re talking about right now. For three long weeks Traitor Tot has used the search to raise money and rile up his base, while the DOJ just plodded along, doing their job. Time to rile up the decent people. And if the thought of America’s deepest secrets spread around on Trump’s carpet doesn’t get the blood boiling, I don’t know what will.
But it seems to me that by releasing that photo in the filing, knowing the media and public would seize on it, Merrick Garland has burned his last bridge. He now has no choice but to indict Trump, likely on multiple charges. Here’s why.
By my understanding, the only criteria for violations of the Official Records Act, or the Presidential Records act is unauthorized possession of the material. The intent is moot, you can’t have it! And in taking photographs of Top Secret documents spread out on Trump’s carpet, I think the DOJ has pretty well proved that Trump had unauthorized possession of the documents.
To file criminal obstruction of justice charges, you have to prove unauthorized possession of material, and criminal intent to conceal it from an ongoing criminal investigation. The photos pretty well establish possession. And the fact that they were found in his office desk, office closet, and bedroom closet after his lawyers had attested that all the purloined material had been returned, pretty much makes criminal intent a no brainer.
I can’t think of any other reason for Merrick Garland to enclose that photo. I’ve gleefully related how every time Trump tries to take on Garland, Garland slaps him around like a tackling dummy. But that photo crosses a line, one that didn’t need to be crossed. If the judge wanted more details, the DOJ could have just provided a more detailed inventory of seized documents under seal to the court. We never would have seen it. But I know enough about Merrick Garland to know that he never does anything without a strategic reason. And the only logical reason for enclosing that photo is that Garland wanted us all to see it. And get pissed off. Don’t touch that dial.