Jack Smith’s Found the Holy Grail, Trump’s Motive For Taking Docs

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The Washington Post is running a story today with the headline, “A tantalizing detail in a new Trump filing.” Tantalizing is putting it mildly. Revealing why Donald Trump took boxes of materials back to Florida with him is vitally important because intent is a key element in a case such as this one. How is Jack Smith reading Trump’s mind?

“That the classified materials at issue in this case were taken from the White House and retained at Mar-a-Lago is not in dispute,” Smith’s office said.

It then added that “what is in dispute is how that occurred, why it occurred, what Trump knew, and what Trump intended in retaining them — all issues that the Government will prove at trial primarily with unclassified evidence.”

That might be boilerplate language in another lawsuit but in this one, it’s an amazing statement, “What Trump knew and what Trump intended…” That is indeed the Holy Grail right there.

Let us speculate, because that’s all that we can do at this point.

Smith’s team might not necessarily need to prove Trump’s intention or his motive in the case. You have documents, you fail to return them when the government comes calling and that’s a crime regardless of why you did it, the argument goes. Trump’s indictment in the case made no direct claims about a potential motive.

But that doesn’t mean proving Trump’s motive wouldn’t be helpful. Indeed, establishing a motive would seem to drive home the intention of Trump’s actions and combat any arguments that this was all a misunderstanding — or that Trump somehow didn’t know what he had (which the government has taken care to undermine).

One of them — promoted by Trump’s allies — is that he’s a pack rat and that these documents just happened to be mixed in with a bunch of other, less problematic materials that were taken from the White House. But not only is there all kinds of evidence that he took an interest in the boxes and their contents as the government was trying to retrieve them, but the government has said Trump was also involved in packing the materials when he left the White House in January 2021.

Another, somewhat less nefarious explanation would be that he viewed even sensitive materials as something akin to trophies and mementos — his “beautiful mind” materials, in the words of one aide.

I think that this is going the right direction. I think that Trump believed, even though he was told to the contrary, that anything that touched his presidency was somehow his personal property and all documents, objects, paraphernalia were souvenirs. I’m surprised he didn’t walk out with some of the White House furniture or the Resolute Desk, but then he did call the White House, “that dump” so maybe those pieces weren’t gilded in gold enough for him to covet.

The Post continues.

Where things could get even hairier for Trump is if the government can demonstrate that he intended to use the documents for some purpose. And at least in one case, the government has gestured toward to a potential purpose.

Perhaps the most significant document in the indictment deals with a plan for attacking Iran, which Trump allegedly showed to a writer and a publisher. A recording of the scene has been made public.

The document and recording are significant because they show Trump acknowledging, in real time, that the document is classified and that he never declassified it — contrary to his public suggestions about the documents. (Trump had also initially said the document didn’t exist and that his talk was mere bravado — before Smith’s team added the actual alleged document to a superseding indictment.)

The Iran document is a case within a case. General Milley had feared Trump would start a war with Iran to stay in power. Then Trump “found” the Iran document, in the now famous recording, “I just found, isn’t that amazing?” Trump said in the recording. “This totally wins my case, you know.” His “case” we guess, was to prove that General Milley was the trigger happy one, because he kept saying that Milley asked him to attack Iran and Milley replied to that accusation that he did no such thing, but that contingency documents are often drawn up regarding what the United States could or might do.

No, General Milley was just minding the store and hoping that all the valuable merchandise, i.e., government intelligence, didn’t get carted off by the then-custodian, who didn’t understand that his four year term was just part of an ongoing procession of democratically elected leaders.

Trump never understood the function of the office of president. He never saw it as a means of preserving our values, our way of life and keeping safe all that we have built lo these 240 years. No, it was all about him and how he could benefit.

Whether other evidence points in this direction, we don’t yet know. But Smith’s team has clearly shown an interest in whether Trump used the documents for his personal advantage. In April it subpoenaed information about the dealings of Trump’s businesses with foreign countries, for instance, apparently in search of a possible financial motive. But such a motive wasn’t referenced in Trump’s indictment, and as of November 2022 it hadn’t been established, The Washington Post reported.

Whatever that alleged motive might ultimately be, we’ll apparently learn about it at some point.

And the sooner the better. But this is a rough sketch at least of where Jack Smith might be going in trial. And Trump’s motives vis a vis foreign countries and Jared Kushner’s are bound to be found to be intertwined.

This is all unraveling like a spy novel and the sad part is that in the end, that’s just what the Trump presidency may boil down to. And we saw the beginnings of that in 2017, when Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn were selling nuclear start up kits to the Saudis. Let’s hope that the sleeping giant of the electorate will wake up and see Trump in his true light, a narcissist who will happily sell out any and everybody, and certainly the United States, to get what he wants.

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8 COMMENTS

    • I’d like to know what his motive is. I already said that I believe he thought everything was a souvenir. Remember, this guy has zero real world experience in business. He ran a small family company with 12 people. He has no concept of government, or even of big business. I think most of us have had the experience of working in a small business and in a big one and it’s night and day.

      When all is said and done I’ll bet that Trump just decided he could keep/use/sell whatever he wanted to because he believed he had that right.

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  1. Your “… That might be boilerplate language in another lawsuit but in this one, it’s an amazing statement, “What Trump knew and what Trump intended…” That is indeed the Holy Grail right there…” By now other’s are experiencing a frisson, with several more to come, when the malodorous mango gets his just desserts.

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  2. ‘Then Trump “found” the Iran document, in the now famous recording, “I just found, isn’t that amazing?” Trump said in the recording. “This totally wins my case, you know.”’
    Yes, it is totally amazing that an ignoramus like Trump could single-handedly find a document that totally wins his case. Not that it actually does, of course, but very stable genius thinks it does. Can anyone possibly believe that Trump just “found” this document on his own? I sure don’t, he must have had help. That helper is a potential star witness.

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    • early on Trump claimed the presidential records act and made the point that Nixon got paid millions. not realizing that the act was enacted due to Nixon. it was obvious he thought he could grift money out of it

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    • And the “case” he was talking about winning was his vendetta against General Milley. But all he did was undermine his position in the classified documents case.

      All Trump thinks about is optics and we live in a TV world. Somebody who can create the right optics can work wonders, as we have seen Trump do.

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