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April 30, 2024

As you know, last week Florida Judge Aileen Cannon released unredacted materials connected to the so-called “classified documents” case brought by unauthorized Special Counsel Jack Smith.  When Julie Kelly compared the newly-available unredacted version of the affidavit to get a search warrant for Mar-A-Lago with the previously redacted version, she was able to see exactly what had previously been blocked from public view.  Notably, she discovered testimony from an unidentified FBI agent that pallets of boxes filled with Trump documents had been transported, at the insistence of the GSA (General Services Administration), from a location in Virginia to Mar-A-Lago in “early August” 2021. 

Is this sounding like a set-up yet?

The redacted document, released in August 2022, after the August 8, 2022, Mar-A-Lago raid, had covered this up and made it seem as though all the boxes of documents originated from the White House in January 2021.  They did not.

In her posts to X on Sunday, Kelly showed side-by-side the redacted and unredacted versions of the affidavit, showing how the special counsel had by then moved its emphasis from mere “classified documents” possession to violations of the Espionage Act.  (President Trump is charged with 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information --- 37 counts in all, including process crimes stemming from conversations with his own lawyer.)  Within the newly unredacted version, the FBI agent happens to mention that he received training at Quantico specific to “counterintelligence and espionage investigations.”  Prosecutors had apparently wanted to keep this quiet.

Our first question upon hearing last week about those other boxes was whether or not they contained documents with “classified markings.”  Apparently, they did.  Quoting Kelly:  “These were the boxes that ended up having documents with “classified markings” on them.  The boxes were dumped outside of DC in Virginia and then ended up at Mar-A-Lago.”

Here’s something else of interest that was completely redacted until now:  prior to the raid, the FBI had the dimensions of Melania’s bedroom, or “residential suite,” located inside what investigators called the “Owners’ Quarters.”  Now that those black bars have been removed from the pages, we can see that the FBI was advised ahead of time of the entire layout of this large “personal suite,” by a witness who had been there in June 2022.  (The witness hadn’t seen any boxes of documents in her personal area but “may not have been able to fully observe,” so that must be why the FBI felt compelled to go through Melania’s things.)

They went through the personal possessions of both the President and the former First Lady.  But now, as John Solomon reports, their actions may be seriously impacted by another federal case:  the one concerning “classified” audio tapes that President Bill Clinton had kept in his sock drawer.

Recall that in the case Judicial Watch v. National Archives and Records Administration, the conservative watchdog group sued to compel NARA to seize the hours of audio recordings that Clinton had made during his presidency with historian Taylor Branch, to be used for a book that Branch released in 2009.  As much as we love Judicial Watch, that’s a fight they lost.  U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson (DC) said in her ruling of March 2012 that there was no provision in the Presidential Records Act that could force the National Archives to seize records from a former president.

Interesting.  Gosh, now I think we know why the special counsel switched to charging Trump under the Espionage Act!

As Solomon writes, “...Jackson’s ruling --- along with the Justice Department’s arguments that preceded it --- made some other sweeping declarations that have more direct relevance to the FBI’s decision to seize handwritten notes and files Trump took with him to Mar-A-Lago.  The most relevant is that a President’s discretion on what are personal vs. official records is far-reaching and solely his, as is his ability to classify or destroy records at will.”

“Since the President is completely entrusted,” Jackson wrote, “with the management and even the disposal of Presidential records during his time in office, it would be difficult for this Court to conclude that Congress intended that he would have less authority to do as he pleases with what he considers to be his personal records.”

Her full opinion is quite decisively written...

In addition to this judicial ruling, there are executive orders still in force, issued by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, declaring that presidents have “sweeping authority” to declassify secrets, without having to follow the mandatory declassification procedures that all other government officials do.  (Side note:  Sen./Vice President Joe Biden, to whom these orders did not apply, did NOT follow the requisite procedures when he removed classified documents from their secure settings and stored them in his garage, office, etc. etc.  Nothing will happen to him.)

So, how could NARA have gone after President Trump for documents he insists he had declassified and deemed personal?  Why on earth was he charged criminally?  As Jackson noted in the Clinton case, if the Archives wants to challenge the President’s decision, that agency and the attorney general can initiate an “enforcement mechanism” under the law, but it is a civil procedure and HAS NO CRIMINAL PENALTY.

Accordingly, former assistant FBI Director for Intelligence Kevin Brock says he doesn’t think the FBI and DOJ have authority to criminalize the retention of presidential records.  But this warrant “apparently makes a novel assertion that any presidential record kept by a former president is against the law.  You have to wonder what the other living former presidents think about that.  They have the right and, apparently, clear desire to remain silent.”

Brock also told Solomon he thinks the Mar-A-Lago search warrant, when viewed in light of the FBI manual, was overly broad.  “Specificity is important in order to protect Fourth Amendment rights from exuberant government overreach designed to find whatever they can.”

But we’d say “exuberant government overreach” is what this special counsel --- the whole Biden Administration --- is all about.  Especially when it comes to taking down Trump. 

You might recall that the Jackson ruling about Clinton’s sock-drawer tapes was brought up in the months following the Mar-A-Lago raid but then seemed to go away, as inconvenient stories for Democrats so often do.  But now that we’re seeing these newly unredacted FBI documents, it’s being brought up again to reporters such as Solomon by attorneys --- government attorneys, no less --- who question what’s being done to Trump.

Could this previous ruling by Amy Berman Jackson ultimately be a factor in causing Smith’s “classified documents” case to crash and burn?  In a sane world, it would be.  In THIS world, all bets are off.  It might also be that the Bragg case in Manhattan --- the so-called “falsifying business records” case, with Juan Merchan presiding --- will fall apart, at least on appeal, as there’s just no crime there.  Here’s Jonathan Turley’s latest column on the satirical becoming real in this Rube Goldberg-esque trial, “even as legal experts debate what crime can be found in any of these flips and dips.”

If you missed the big story from last week about the unsealed documents suggesting coordination among the Biden White House counsel, the DOJ and NARA Archivist David Ferriero, here’s an excellent piece at JUST THE NEWS that explains it.  This makes the White House claim that they had no advance knowledge of the Mar-A-Lago raid seem ridiculous on its face.


RELATED:  A new 30-minute documentary called “CHASING TRUMP:  Political Prosecutions.  Justice Gone Wrong” outlines the various legal abuses mounted against Trump and explains where the four politically-motivated prosecutors leading them --- Jack Smith, Alvin Bragg, Letitia James and Fani Willis --- have gone horribly afoul, applying laws in ways they were never intended to be applied.  Smith is the first one discussed, for his history and background and also the tactics he’s using in both the “classified documents” case and the J6-related charges. One reason this documentary is so good:  AMERICAN GREATNESS was involved in the production.

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