WHO Besides Trump Is In Legal Jeopardy Over Theft Of Classified Documents?

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As bad as the situation is with Trump and National Security (and it’s as bad as it can be where he’s concerned) the problem is actually much worse.   All this stuff regarding those documents recovered at Mar A Lago go way the hell beyond Trump.  I’m referring to who among his staff and guests (an adversary’s intelligence wet-dream) wandering around, or in the case of a foreign agent or one of their “stringers” doing targeted searches.   There’s also the matter of what the hell floated around the Trump WH during those years, and how people were able to just shove stuff into boxes and walk out of there and take them to his freaking club!

To me at least as big as the FBI/DOJ January 6 investigation is, this could wind up bigger and take even more resources.  A certain hack federal judge down there in FL either doesn’t fully appreciate that fact, or worse doesn’t care.

Browsing through my news feed this morning I saw a USA Today article that dug into how, except for Trump and his people Presidential Administrations have handled classified documents.  I’ve seen articles and heard discussions on news shows since this story broke saying similar things.  (As it happens I didn’t need the tutorials but I’m glad the public at-large is getting clued in) If you follow the link I included to the article that prompted me to write this you’ll see that high level officials from both major political Parties were quoted in it.  The main point though is both in the article and in other places it’s been noted that there were (and are again) long standing rules/protocols for handling classified information even within the confines of the White House.  In fact, there are actual laws that can be (and have been) used to prosecute people who mishandle classified information.

Prior to the search at Mar A Lago (it was not a Raid, it was a SEARCH conducted under the authority of a properly issued Search Warrant signed by a Federal Magistrate who was presented with a strong affidavit laying out credible evidence on why the SEARCH was necessary! I really wish at least people on our side would stop using the word “Raid.”) there was plenty of credible reporting that the Trump administration was way too casual about classified and National Security information.   For example, Jar-Jar, even before Trump overrode the professionals who denied it granted Jared a top security clearance was getting, or rather taking Trump’s copy of the Presidential Daily Brief on a regular basis.  In case you don’t know, the PDB contains highly classified information every time.  Often with current information about ongoing matters to include active operations, and human intelligence gathering and signals intelligence taking place in real time.  Actual sources and methods stuff.  This is known in the intel community as Special Access Program classified information and typically few people, usually in the low single digits (if that many) are authorized to see it!

The sloppiness or perhaps even willful malfeasance when it came to proper handling/protection of classified information in the Trump WH went well beyond that however.  Again, there was plenty of credible reporting all along.   So, what I want to try and explain is what people are taught – what they should do around classified information and what they should do if they see violations of procedures for ensuring it’s properly handled.  Why?  Because while we saw a whole bunch of stuff that NEVER should have left the WH was discovered at Trump’s smarmy club it’s patently obvious proper handling of classified documents wasn’t standard practice in Trump’s WH, or as we know at his freaking clubs either – we know sometimes he had it out and talked about it with foreign leaders in public dining rooms at his clubs!  And who knows where else it can be found?  Bedminster? News has broken that’s quite possible, and there’s video to back up the suggestion.

But while we rightly focus on the fact that a President was so callous (although let’s face it there’s a good chance he had evil intent all along) held on to documents he had no business having after he left the WH, Trump didn’t pack all that stuff up!  Consider this:

  1. Do you think Trump retrieved one single classified document during his Presidency?  Hell NO!  The mere thought of him doing so makes me laugh.
  2. Some of this is so sensitive that even in the National Security Spaces in the WH the regular locked cabinets where anything not being used right at the moment were locked away weren’t secure enough.  Some was kept in safes with extra protection and only a few people knew how to open them.
  3. There had always been (and is again) a system of tracking classified documents.  Who accessed them, who they are shown to (including how many copies are made and who those go to) and who collects them and returns them to storage and when.  And certification of destruction of copies which I might add consist not just of shredding but use of burn bags which are themselves tracked, as in who transports that shredded stuff in the locked bag to the incinerator and dumps the contents into the fire.

Basically, there is supposed to be a paper trail on who saw and handled what and particular attention/documentation is given to much of what was retrieved in the SEARCH of Mar A Lago!  That’s the way it was before Trump, and how it is again.  As it should be.  So just WHO at the WH failed to do their jobs, and follow the proper, long-established protocols knowing that not doing so would at best cause immediate revocation of their security clearance and firing and likely lead to criminal charges?

Again I point out that once upon a time I had a clearance although I never wound up in a position to read classified documents.  I did however for a time stand duty at the Pentagon in the OPNAV Security Office.  They wanted armed Marines to protect the Naval Command Center as well as respond to any threats to the SecNav and CNO offices out on the E-Ring.  At night, the Petty Officer (a Navy Master at Arms – their version of an MP) would take a list of randomly selected secure office spaces and do a security sweep.  At first they weren’t armed so they wanted one of us not standing post to accompany them but even after common sense kicked in and they too carried sidearms they still wanted one of us along.

Why?  Because after dialing the combination to the door and entering the space (there was also another security device where you had to punch in a code) the job was to check that all the cabinets and safes were properly locked/secured.  Desks were examined as well, both the top and the unlocked drawers.  And sometimes a cabinet or safe was unlocked.  In which case a notice was put inside by the Petty Officer with me or whatever Marine was along witnessing their signature and it was secured and a seal placed on it.  If a classified document was found on a desk or in a drawer, it was of course easily recognized as such.  Trust me when I say those big, block red letters at the top jump out at you!  I knew to simply turn it over without reading it and alert the Petty Officer who would secure it (as he’d do with anything he found after first alerting me to witness him doing so) by placing it in a big manila envelope and sealing it.  Both of us would sign across the sealed flap.  Once we got back to the security office anything found would be secured in a safe, and documentation would be completed for the turn of the watch who would notify the appropriate office when things got going in the morning.

Needless to say, the culprit was in for a “bad day” when they got to work the next day but it brought hassles for others in their office too.  I think more than one promising career was curtailed because someone in charge of one of those secure spaces had someone busted for not securing classified information.  It doesn’t take much on an Officer’s record to, when promotion boards get into those last few slots have to dig in to separate out who gets the nod and who doesn’t.  And a brief note on someone’s record about this kind of thing might be the difference even with everything else being exemplary.

So yes, for military folks, many of whom serve on any WH National Security staff (i.e. Vindeman) know the drill.  But so do the civilians borrowed from CIA, NSA and other agencies.  Being busted for not properly handling/accounting for classified information is a career killer and can even put one’s ass in jail.  THAT begs the question of who and how many staffers, those on the National Security staff in particular who are responsible for digging out classified documents, accounting for who sees them and them being returned to storage are involved in all this?  Then there are plain old staffers, many of whom had NO business seeing any of that stuff, or even handling it even if they didn’t read it carrying it around and eventually (some of them) packing it up to be sent to Mar A Lago or wherever!

A whole LOT of people have violated protocols and even laws regarding access to and handling of classified information, in some cases even SAP material which is as sensitive as it gets!   It then follows that since their boss is a lifelong grifter (and they damn well knew it) one has to ask how many of these hangers on took the opportunity to run off a copy of something and stuff it in their pocket?

NOW do you see the scope of what the FBI and DOJ have to investigate?  And WHY judge Cannon’s even considering the Special Master thing, and asking “what’s the harm in taking time to make sure TFG’s fee fees and rights (he has NONE when it comes to having taken and refused to return those documents except a fifth amendment right against self-incrimination) are “protected?” is such a huge freaking deal?  I can assure you that not only in our nation’s Capitol and intelligence community, but in those of our allies around the world there has been widespread horror!   No one will ever know how much damage has been done.  But every day lost due to an injunction halting the investigation is a day lost to assess and try to mitigate the damage to not only our own, but other’s National Security!

However, as much as we focus on Trump he didn’t commit his crimes without lots of others helping him to do so.  EVERY   SINGLE    ONE needs to be tracked down and held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.  But it’s only possible to do so, and more importantly conduct a damage assessment if the FBI/DOJ can continue to investigate and work with the National Security Community while doing so.

Every single person who worked in the Trump WH, as well as every single person that worked at Mar A Lago (I guess now we have to ad Bedminster to the list) needs to get a visit from the FBI.   Who should ask some very basic question such as:

  1. Did you ever see classified documents outside of the Oval Office or the National Security Offices at the WH?   Or, for those who never worked in the WH Did you ever see classified documents while working? (The agent can show them blank pages marked with various Classification markings for reference)
  2. Did you ever see someone you did not know for a fact was someone with a top security clearance with classified documents?
  3. To the best of your recollection, please note where and when in as much detail as you can remember.
  4. If you did not have Top Secret clearance (which the agent should know ahead of time) and for some reason you were in the Oval Office or some other space and saw classified documents, to the best of your recollection who else was present?  Did they appear to be discussing what you thought might be classified information and if so how much can you recall of who said what?
  5. If you had Top Secret clearance were you ever in an office/meeting where classified documents were present but others you knew did not have clearance were, even for a short time in the same room/space where the documents were able to be seen?  If so, to the best of your recollection who else was present?

I’m talking questions like that – and if the answers warrant doing so read someone their rights before proceeding.  Rank and file staffers can’t afford the kind of lawyers to keep them out of serious sh!t and will spill their guts to avoid charges.  And more importantly name names which is why I think it might be good to start at that level.  Some checking of social media would give indications on who has had the effects of the Kool-Aid wear off, or had the scales fall from their eyes.   Armed with name and general times/places an agent conducting an interview can truthfully say some people have cooperated and given important information including names of people who should have been around classified documents.   That would loosen more tongues.  Word would spread of course, but if the FBI did it right they’d get good information they can leverage to move up the food chain, just as they’ve done with the J6 investigation.   And now not only are prison sentences being handed down, they are increasing in length!  If for one think that will make a lot of people, people who simply can’t afford a white collar lawyer to gulp and even volunteer to offer information before getting paid a visit.

Well, I realize all this is a lot to take in.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Denis, for spelling this out in detail. The judge’s question “what’s the harm?” made me crazy. She’s either clueless or playing to the trombies.

  2. When I enlisted, I took a battery of tests. One was a made up language to see my aptitude for learning a difficult language. I was on track to get a high level security clearance to learn Russian or Chinese. When I was interviewed, the whole process shut down because I was honest about my drug use in college. That’s how serious the military screened. Trump and family shit all over the process. Remember Jared got caught LYING on his application & lied again when caught. Yet this vampire punk got cleared for the highest secrets in the land. Trump violated his clearance by giving the goddamn Russian ambassador secrets like a schoolgirl with gossip to tell. I have NO patience for those that keep saying just wait and see. Bullshit. The average solider would have been in the brig YEARS AGO. I know these armchair philosophers think they know what they’re talking about. Unlike you, who relies on EXPERIENCE, they are talking out their rectums. God knows who has gotten killed or is at risk for doing so because of these traitors WHO ARE STILL FREE. Wait long enough and don’t worry…our democracy will be over.

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    • Unfortunately, the only requirements to qualify to be President set forth in the Constitution is being 35 (the average life span was much shorter then) and being a natural born citizen. On the latter point there’d be some court rulings as laws defining “natural born” changed. When you think about it, whether Presidents or even Senators and Congresspersons there is no requirement for them to qualify for, much less hold any level of security clearance. Until relatively recently it was assumed voters wouldn’t elect people who couldn’t be trusted with national security stuff. We have of course had federal elected officials who held security clearances prior to running for office, and have maintained them. I for one think since Congress sometimes gets general security briefings a law should be passed that they have to acquire at least a Secret clearance to appear on a primary ballot. If elected and they intend to serve or ask to serve on certain committees they should get the process for obtaining Top Secret clearance as soon as they clear their primary – it can usually take longer between then and the next Jan. for the full background investigation but the process can be expidited in some ways, including moving them up the list which of course would such for people in the private sector waiting to get their own clearance for a job. Presidents should also be willing to submit to the clearance process. They ask appointees to submit all manner of financial and other records and have their own investigators and the FBI crawl up their ass prior to sitting in front of the Senate. Any President who believes themselves worthy of the Office, and frankly anyone who would vote for them should lead by example and do what they expect of others.

      SCOUTS might strike down such a law as un-Constitutional but Congress can keep passing it every session. And ANY candidate who won’t get a clearance should have their opponent who will bash them over the head with it. The “what are they hiding? ads write themselves.

  3. My Navy veteran presided over a warehouse for parts for planes and carrier a security clearance above top secret. If I wanted to drop off lunch,I had to call ahead and meet him outside. I could not come in.
    Another pal worked for CIA,as a,secretary. She got so.used to burn bags that if she got ads,in the mail, she would tear them up and walk to.incinerator in the apt. building.
    Another bff had a,father who was,CIA chief of station. Neither she nor her brothers knew it until the eldest wanted to go to Fussy and couldn’t go because he could become a,hostage. Her father was a fascinating man. Much like Judy Dench’s version of M.

  4. It always surprises me how ignorant Americans are about how their government works. Most folks know little or nothing about security and security protocols. To the average American idiot, they are just an inconvenience. Having worked as a computer consultant for years, I can tell you the 3 places to look for a password and have a 90% chance of finding it for secret and top secret computer systems. I spent a year on a US Navy ship teaching computer information systems to sailors, officers and enlisted. To do this, I was required to have a secret security clearance, not top secret. There was lots I could not see. The FBI conducted the investigation and I was given the clearance. I worked with Navy staff on all the small computers aboard ship, over a 100. I taught word processing, spreadsheets, databases and graphics programs. Procedure and protocol were everything and both were enforced by guards armed with M-16’s with live rounds and pistols. If a guard told you to do something, the only option was comply. I suspect the major difference between the security I experienced and the security at the White House is the security at the White House wear suits as well as uniforms. And they all carry guns. Trump subverted all this and was the first traitor elected by the people to the White House. He should be the last. Should this investigation continue, there will be hundreds implicated and it take years of legal proceedings to deal with this. The powers of the President must be mitigated with oversight and the oversight has to be strong, say a committee of people to review what a President can do. It will be years before we know the extent of this mofo’s treason and that of his family. We the people of this nation need to demand accountability and consequences now.

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