It’s been another busy week in Trumpland. Of course, it’s always a busy week in Trumpland. Trump has always believed that it’s more important to have his face and voice in the news, even in a bad way, than to not have it in the news at all.
Even with a scorecard, it’s hard to keep track. The latest event was the unsealing of a redacted 38-page affidavit used by a judge, which documented probable cause for the latest search of Donald Trump’s Mar a Lago estate. In it, we learned that back in January, after months spent by the National Archives to recover classified and other national security documents taken by Trump when he left office, 184 classified documents were retrieved including 25 top secret documents. In June we learned that Trump’s lawyer falsely asserted to the Justice Department that all classified material at Mar a Lago had been returned. It’s hard to know exactly how many more of these documents were retrieved in the August 8 raid, but at least six boxes contained classified information.
Trump has reportedly claimed these documents were “mine” and anyway he had a standing order that any documents taken to the White House residence were declassified. The Presidential Records Act though (ironically passed after Richard Nixon’s abuses during Watergate) says all documents used to conduct official U.S. government business belong to the government. Also, one of the laws cited in the affidavit which Trump likely broke does not require a document to be classified in order for it to be protected. It has to contain sensitive defense information. It appears that many of these documents qualified.
I asked my wife what she thought would happen to her if she took these sets of data and stored them in our home. She figured she’d be in police custody somewhere and probably in an orange jumpsuit. She also figured any possibility of being free again would be decades away, at best.
I’m no lawyer, but this sounds right to me, based on what I remember when I had Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information access and swore to uphold national security laws back in the 1980s.
But if she had stored those documents in our house, they would have been much better protected than they were at Mar a Lago. Our doors are normally locked. If the front door is unlocked, someone is home and near the door. At Mar a Lago, apparently anyone can walk in through a beach tunnel and, at best, you are challenged by a Secret Service agent if you get too close to Donald Trump.
So it’s likely if the suspect were anyone other than Donald Trump, they’d be in custody already and probably in an orange jumpsuit. This would have happened months ago. Trump would be proclaiming from behind bars that orange is the new black.
All this is so mind-blowingly stupid, you have to wonder how even Donald Trump could be so stupid and reckless. But, like with Alex Jones, if you have malignant narcissism it simply wouldn’t occur to you that it’s not yours. It’s yours because you deem it to be so, and that’s that.
It’s not about the law; it’s just a test of wills. If you are rich enough, you just keep throwing lawyers at the problem until it goes away. It’s worked for Trump his whole life, but so far it’s been in the civil arena only. Yes, there have been some setbacks. He’s paid some penalties for his fake charity and fake university. He’s paid off porn stars and others to avoid certain other lawsuits. Money makes things go away or at least drags them on long enough where it becomes moot. Trump’s latest drag-it-out maneuver is to ask a Florida judge to appoint a special master to review the documents seized at the raid, so he can retrieve “his” stuff. This looks like another meritless petition, but its true purposes are to delay things and to muddy the legal waters.
It’s probably not going to work this time. These are actual crimes that Trump is being investigated for. The evidence against him is overwhelming. He doesn’t even deny taking the materials. The Justice Department repeatedly gave him plentiful opportunities to discreetly comply with the law, which he largely ignored. His malignant narcissism though clearly had the upper hand. Those documents were “his” and those trying to get them were wrong simply because he was president and he says so. So screw ’em.
Just as with Alex Jones’s stunned state (see picture) when his trial judge had to repeatedly remind him that he must tell the truth, we can expect that if Trump ever comes to trial there will be a similar photo of him. The idea of actual justice applying to him just doesn’t register. He’s not a regular citizen. He’s Donald Trump, the almighty. The laws bend to him, not the other way around.
Jones though apparently seemed at last to register the magnitude of his mistake. Should it come to it, I don’t think Trump will ever have a Come-to-Jesus moment.
I’d love to see him receive actual justice. He may even get close to sentencing and conviction. But I suspect in the end the Justice Department will cut a deal. I bet he’ll have to pay a hefty fine and sign an agreement to never run for public office. All this will be justified to keep Trump from inciting civil war by his supporters. Then he’ll be back to Tweeting or Truthing or whatever it is called at the moment.
I suspect there is no relief from Trump except his death. And, sadly, having observed Trump, there will be plenty of other rich men with deep pockets more than willing to give it one more go.