The FBI’s Mar-a-Lago affidavit paints an unsettling portrait of Trump | Lloyd Green

According to the affidavit, the government previously found in Trump’s possession 184 documents marked ‘classified’, 67 marked ‘confidential’, 92 marked ‘secret’, and 25 ‘top secret’

Donald Trump is a life-long teetotaler. But at this moment, he may want to re-consider his commitment to sobriety.

Early on Friday afternoon, a heavily redacted version of the much-vaunted FBI affidavit went public. It did not paint a flattering portrait of the 45th president or his environs.

“[P]robable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed … will be found at the premises,” it read. Prison times under the statutes cited in the affidavit run the gamut from three to 20 years, depending on the specific offense.

Section 793 addresses defense information and section 1519 is directed at the “destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy.” Section 2071 speaks to the “concealment, removal, or mutilation” of documents.

For Trump, a candidate and incumbent who made “lock her up” a rallying cry, the latest developments make him look ridiculous. And that is being generous.

These developments also place an unwelcome millstone around the neck of the Republicans – who pride themselves on law, order and national security – as the US careens toward its midterm elections.

Despite being heavily redacted, the affidavit says plenty. Mar-a-Lago had become a storage facility for documents that Trump should never have transported when he exited the White House. Unfortunately, he believed the mantra of Louis XIV, France’s Sun King: “L’état, c’est moi.”

In May 2022, according to the affidavit, the government found in Trump’s possession 184 documents marked “classified”; 67 marked “confidential”; 92 marked “secret”; and 25 marked “top secret.” But Trump’s nightmare doesn’t end there.

FBI agents “observed markings reflecting” human intelligence sources and other highly sensitive intelligence categories, the affidavit says. Trump, an ex-reality show host, makes Hillary Clinton look almost fastidious.

Or as Trump framed things on social media, “WE GAVE THEM MUCH.” To be sure, he did not say, “WE GAVE THEM ALL.” Here, it is a distinction with real world significance.

As the affidavit hit the docket, reports emerged of a woman posing as a member of the Rothschild family playing golf with Trump and Lindsey Graham while ingratiating herself with Trump’s supporters. Talk about synchronicity.

The incidents are under active investigation in the US and Canada. Her alleged real identity is Inna Yashchyshyn, a Russian-speaking immigrant from Ukraine.

This latest episode stands as a cross between Maria Butina and Inventing Anna. Life imitates life. History can be repetitive. One thing is clear, security is not a primary concern for Trump.

Meanwhile, the clock ticks down for Merrick Garland, the attorney general, and Trump. Under justice department practice, politically sensitive prosecutions cannot be launched within 60 days of an election.

As a result, Labor Day in early September marks a cut-off for indicting Trump until after November’s congressional contests. Two related questions are “if and when” Trump declares his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

One way or another, the former guy will appear on this fall’s ballot. Beyond that, the release of the redacted affidavit raises the issue of disclosure of a non-redacted version by the Biden administration to the senior members of Congress, the so-called Gang of Eight.

By law, the Speaker of the House, the House minority leader, the Senate’s majority and minority leaders, together with the chairs and ranking minority members of the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress are entitled to be briefed on covert actions.

They have reportedly requested relevant information.

To be sure, the FBI frowns on briefing Congress on open investigations. Here, however, the barn door is wide open. The horse has bolted. Indeed, it was Trump who publicized the court-approved search.

The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell has reported that the “[s]ourcing and information the FBI would’ve needed to pinpoint those locations with such confidence, suggests [that] there are people close to the former president potentially cooperating with this investigation”.

Can you say, “GoodFellas and Henry Hill”? In other words, the walls around Trump may be closing. A man with few friends, he may need someone he can talk to without furthering a conspiracy or paying $1,000 an hour.

Signs are not encouraging. Earlier this week, Jared Kushner, whose own father received a Trump pardon, scrambled to distance himself from Ivanka’s dad.

Asked by Fox News about Trump’s handling of classified material, Kushner demurred. “Like I said, I’m not familiar with what was in the boxes,” he answered. “But I think President Trump, he, uh, he governed in a very peculiar way and when he had his documents, I’m assuming he did what he thought was appropriate.”

And if Trump can’t count on his son-in-law to deliver something other than a potpourri of word salad, who can he trust?

  • Lloyd Green served in the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1992


Lloyd Green

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Trump seized classified documents – but for Republicans the story is Hunter Biden’s laptop | Lawrence Douglas
There was a time when Republican lawmakers took dangerous security breaches seriously but Trump’s actions are unworthy of attention for the likes of Senator Ron Johnson

Lawrence Douglas

30, Aug, 2022 @12:54 PM

Article image
FBI sought national defense documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, affidavit shows
Extensively redacted affidavit used to justify the search of the ex-president’s Florida resort was unsealed on Friday

Hugo Lowell in New York

26, Aug, 2022 @5:20 PM

Article image
Wednesday briefing: Could the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago be a gamechanger?
In today’s newsletter: After Donald Trump’s Florida home is ‘raided’, legal experts weigh in on whether the documents retrieved could rule him out of a comeback in the 2024 presidential election

Dan Milmo

10, Aug, 2022 @5:47 AM

Article image
Trump search affidavit reveals potential for ‘evidence of obstruction’ at Mar-a-Lago – as it happened
Heavily redacted document also says several documents contained what appear to be Trump’s handwritten notes

Maya Yang and Martin Pengelly in New York and Chris Stein in Washington

26, Aug, 2022 @8:59 PM

Article image
New legal filings paint Trump as a flailing liar surrounded by lackeys | Lloyd Green
‘I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information,’ Trump once vowed. As promises go, that one aged badly

Lloyd Green

31, Aug, 2022 @3:09 PM

Article image
Finally, Donald Trump's misdeeds are catching up with him | Richard Wolffe
The FBI Mar-a-Lago search suggests that the former president is no longer living in a protective bubble, says Guardian US columnist Richard Wolffe

Richard Wolffe

09, Aug, 2022 @10:26 AM

Article image
Redacted Trump Mar-a-Lago affidavit released: five key takeaways
Affidavit, unsealed by federal magistrate judge Bruce Reinhart, offers new details on probable cause and FBI sources

Hugo Lowell in New York

26, Aug, 2022 @8:36 PM

Article image
Trump was warned about retaining classified documents, notes reveal
Exclusive: previously unreported warning contained in notes taken by lawyer Evan Corcoran that prosecutors have viewed in recent months

Hugo Lowell in Washington

22, May, 2023 @10:00 AM

Article image
In his assault on justice, Trump has out-Nixoned Nixon | Robert Reich
After Watergate, we worked for impartiality. Trump, Roger Stone and William Barr have dragged us back to the swamp

Robert Reich

16, Feb, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
Judge proposed by Trump named special master in Mar-a-Lago records case
Judge Cannon appointed Judge Raymond Dearie to vet documents and denied the DoJ’s plea to continue reviewing the seized records

Maanvi Singh and agencies

16, Sep, 2022 @1:13 AM