At noon on January 20, 2021 Joe Biden was sworn in as our 46th President.  At that moment, Donald J. Trump who enjoyed his “45” brand ceased being President and became a former President.  There is an actual law that spells out benefits conferred to former Presidents.  What it pointed does NOT confer is access to classified information.  Donald J. Trump lost access, or “clearance” if you want to use that term the second his Presidency was over which by law is when the clock strikes noon on Inauguration Day of the next President.  Remember that FACT as it informs everything to follow.

By law, like President’s before him Trump lost every “right” to classified information, to access it or posses it in document or electronic form that very second the clock struck noon.  In less than a second, the blink of an eye he was no longer “cleared.”  By law.  Custom?  I’ll get to that later.

Yes, i know  I can seem tedious (I acknowledge sometimes I’m exactly that, but some things are too effing important to talk about in twitter length, or even People Magazine that “You can read during the average crap” form.  This truly is one of those time when one should go back to being in the classroom in school and pay attention to the lesson.

Even before yesterday’s indictment was announced we’ve had Trump, Trumpkins/MAGAs flooding the zone.  Braying in any and every forum available to them the talking points we’re hearing a rock concert level volume today and will continue to hear.  Please folks.  Set aside a little time to learn some things you don’t know, or even if you know some or all of it can still use to hone your own arguments towards those who swallow Trump disinformation turds and projective vomit them in every direction.  It might and probably won’t make a difference to MAGAs, but as Murster wrote very recently there are an awful lot of people who don’t follow this stuff really closely.

People who can and are hearing a-holes like former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore on networks calmly holding forth a steady stream of half-truths, misdirection, obfuscation, conflation of different matters at being all one thing (favorable to Trump of course) and outright lies and sound quite reasonable.  And worse credible.  People who don’t really know some important things can hear that, and non-rabid Republicans spouting the talking point and say to themselves “Huh.  I didn’t know that but it sounds like it makes sense.  Trump maybe didn’t do anything REALLY wrong.”  Such people can be reached if one is prepared with facts.  The truth and nothing but the truth.  So please bear with me today.

So class, it’s time to talk security clearances and let’s start with the FACT that unlike a federal appointment as a judge or Justice, NO Security Clearance once granted is for life.  Take a moment and let that sink in – deep.  Let me be clear however that even if your Clearance expires or is administratively withdrawn because you no longer need to have that access, or of course revoked for cause you’re still bound to keep what you saw/leaned secret for the rest of your life.  Unless the information becomes properly declassified.  Even then some restrictions might apply.   That’s a nuance that can be exploited by those who wish to obscure the truth of what Trump has done and why he’s been indicted on not documents, but NATIONAL SECURITY grounds.

Let’s say you go into the military or some civilian job that requires you to obtain a security clearance.  It might be fairly basic with relatively little investigation to obtain a Confidential Clearance.  For Secret it gets tougher and for Top Secret even more so.  I can attest the stuff you have to fill out makes for one helluva stack of paperwork and it took me, even way back when I was only 26 serious a$$ time to gather all the required info.  I shudder to think of having to do it for the first time when I was ten years older, had held even more jobs and lived in more places and had worked with even more people, not all of whom were born and raised in the U.S.

Federal Agents can and do wind up crawling all through your life and past, especially for Top Secret and SCI/SCA (Special Compartmented/Access) clearance.  SCI/SSA on classified information means ONLY those designated as needing access to THAT particular information were allowed to see it.  This is some serious stuff we’re talking about.  Which is why those tasked with your background investigation dig so deep, go to places you’ve lived and worked and talked with people, copied records etc.  They  Will  Find  Out  Everything.  Including crap you got in trouble for as a juvenile and was sealed by the courts.  I remember the Gunny telling about a guy who found this out the hard way, and only the judge telling the investigators he’d personally told the guy when he was 18 he’d been a model juvie and that legally “it never happened so don’t ever mention it again to employers, landlords, banks/credit card places etc.” he wound up getting his clearance and his ticket to OCS at Quantico.

The thing is however that once granted your clearance, whatever the level periodically has to be renewed!  That means another round of filling out more info. on what’s gone on in your life since the last time you went through the process.

So you ask, “what about elected officials like Congress Critters or Presidents and Vice-Presidents?”  Sometimes they already have a clearance, maybe even at the highest level via the normal process when they assume office.  Or had one not that long ago in the past that can relatively easily be renewed.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong but in both the House and Senate once sworn in folks are granted not a formal clearance per se but basically have the access of someone holding a Secret Level security clearance.  It’s assumed (and boy has that increasing turned into a stupid assumption!) that the voters wouldn’t send someone who couldn’t be trusted with sensitive information to Congress.

Some committees require having access to seriously high level stuff and those members do have background investigations done just like regular folks.  However, they can be and usually are granted an “interim” clearance while the heavy work is done.  Same for political appointees and key WH staff.  Speaking of the White House, again Presidents and Vice-Presidents are granted the highest possible access the moment they are sworn in, and during transition (prior to the last one) get damned near everything a President would in his (someday) her Personal Daily Brief.  Again, it’s the voters who are assumed to have the wisdom to only send someone to the WH who warrants such trust.

Well, as we know and have Trump confirmed that too is a stupid assumption that needs to be rethought.  Right out of the gate he revealed code-word intel from the Israelis (who have always been notoriously reluctant to share ANYTHING) that compromised a human source. To high Russian officials in a secret Oval Office meeting – we only found out because the Russians spilled the beans, bragging about it on their state run TV.  At least some in the Trump WH seemed to be a bit embarrassed when confirming the story.  (They sure as hell flushed that capacity for shame long ago!)  What it boils down to is what we’ve bitterly learned via Trump – that voters can be really stupid sometimes.  Because we now know the assumption that a President deserves access to any and all classified information because voters would never come even close to, much less actually put someone in the White House who couldn’t be trusted with that information where Trump wound up is badly flawed.  Tragically.  DANGEROUSLY.

I do have a fix, and it would not only shore up both our national security but our credibility with our Allies and their military & intelligence components in particular.  Pass a federal law that to be on the ballot for ANY federal office a person has to submit a completed SF-86 and qualify through the normal process for a top-secret clearance.  It would have the added benefit of weeding out a whole bunch of corrupt and/or crazy Congress Critters!  LET some idiot challenge it in court!  “Your honor, I have all this stuff in my past that would keep me from serving in a bunch of military jobs, or civilian jobs that require a security clearance BUT I should still be allowed to hold high elected office!”  Such a law should exempt a judge from sanction for judicial misconduct if they laugh so hard they fall out of their chair.

Since I started writing this the indictment has been unsealed.  Awful as I thought things were they are even worse.  Yes, it seems to be a so-called “Speaking Indictment” that lays out a lot but you can bet your bippy there’s lots more to come at trial.  Worse, at trial we’ll only learn PART of what Trump did.  Some of the national security stuff that’s been compromised can’t be made part of the case.  Since the damage assessment will never be fully completed in some matters to protect sources and methods can’t be revealed.  Including and especially to Trump and his legal team!

Then again what we knew, and with what we’re learning now that the indictment has been unsealed is plenty bad enough.

Anyone, and I mean ANY ONE who defends Trump at this point is an outright TRAITOR to this country, and betrayer of everyone who has served it whether in the military or down in their communities just trying to make the lives of people where they live better.  We aren’t perfect and have lost our way at times, sometimes badly but as long as we collectively make a real effort there’s hope we can live up to what we proclaim ourselves to be.

However let’s get back to the reason I started writing this.  At 12:01:01 p.m. on January 20, 2021 Donald J. Trump lost the right to possess or have access to a single classified document or other classified information.

Now let’s tackle another related and important part of this.  I described how people get clearance to see/access classified information.  Despite an organized process that almost always (sadly, mistakes have been made) works.  People deemed trustworthy of access to various levels of classified information are given clearance to do so.  Those who are deemed not trustworthy enough are denied.  BUT, a President can overrule the system.  Tell the experts, professionals experience in all this “I don’t care – give so-and-so clearance” and Presto!  Someone, say Jared Kushner is granted full, highest level Security Clearance. (For anyone who doesn’t know the full story ask and I’ll spell it out in a comment later)

Yes, it’s an abuse of the entire process.  It’s worse than that though and in ways I don’t have to tell you.  I will add this.  Our Allies, seeing what was happening cut back on some of what they were willing to share with us.  Between the debacle of that Oval Office disclosure to the Russians that shut down a source high up in the Kremlin and news about Jared, and others getting denied clearances via the process and still getting them because Trump ORDERED it (which as President he could do) you can’t imagine the negative impact that will last a generation.  As has often been said Bush 43 was our “Mulligan” but Trump and what he’s done tells the world, friend and foe alike that unless changes are made every four years anything they tell us in secret is subject to being compromised.

Think about THAT.  And get others to think about it.  Along with everything else I’ve said.

One last point.  In addition to Trump by law losing access to classified information in Feb. 2121 President Biden made (and announced) the decision that Trump would not get courtesy briefings on National Security matters.  Yet another dubious precedent for Trump to have set.  It has been customary, wise even for Presidents to keep former Presidents at least partially in the loop on diplomatic and national security matters.  Including sharing classified information.  This I must note is a proper use of Presidential authority.  Party affiliation aside, prior to Trump Presidents could and have taken advantage of the perspective and advice from those who’ve held the Office.  And Party affiliation aside all former Presidents have set aside partisanship when consulted this way.

If I were President I’d trust former Presidents, even Bush 43 with classified information to help me make an important foreign policy/diplomatic or military/national security decision.  However I wouldn’t trust Trump any further than I could throw the White House!   You know what?  When Biden let it be known Trump wouldn’t get briefings the news barely made a ripple, even in the GOP.   Even most of them thought “He’s right.  Why would he or any President want Trump’s input?”

Well, despite having more to say I fear many won’t have read this far.  If you have I thank you.  Feel free to use anything I’ve said, either in discussions or if you write emails or blog posts or comment on social media.  Sure, I’d welcome credit but that’s not as important as you getting the word out.  Countering the misinformation onslaught that’s already well underway.

So I’ll end where I started.  Donald J. Trump’s “right” to classified information ended at the stroke of noon on January 21, 2021.  That means every single classified document or piece of information he had in his possession was a violation of multiple federal laws.  FELONIES.  Consider that in all the considerable time he spent fighting to keep that stuff he was breaking the law!  Trump make up and spout all kinds of bullsh*t and lies, and invent laws and procedures that let’s just say might as well come out of his anal orifice and it doesn’t change the fact I just stated.   Don’t forget that.  Ever.

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  1. Confirming that for TS and compartmented they will check your siblings, your kids, your friends, and your history as far back as they can trace it. (My father once called home to get the birthdates of his siblings. It was for clearance for something, and as he was generally TS and sometimes Q-cleared…)

    • Also, this is only the first indictment. We don’t know if Smith will drop another one for non-doc stuff. And there’s NYS and GA…

  2. My dad was in the air force as an rotc officer in the early 60’s. I doubt he had much access to much highly classified material, but he must have had some security clearance. He never talked about it, but it did come up maybe 40-50 years later in a discussion with him and my mom in that he still wouldn’t share what classified information he had even decades later, even to my mom, even though it was most likely of no operational use, but he took his obligation very seriously.


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