Classified Documents In Trump’s Safe: Proof of Guilt?

It’s been one horrible week for Donald Trump and it is only Wednesday.

Monday: Photographic evidence of torn notes in Trump handwriting sitting in toilet bowls were released, corroborating claims that Trump illegally destroyed Presidential records by flushing them down the toilet.

Tuesday: FBI agents execute a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. They seemed to act with inside information targeting a safe which Trump says they broke into. That means they showed up with equipment required to break into it, suggesting they planned in advance to do so because they had information something would be there. Team Trump’s response includes suggesting that the FBI planted evidence, which should be viewed as an admission that the FBI found things that should not have been there.

Wednesday: After fighting it tooth and nail, Trump is finally compelled to appear before a deposition related to a wide ranging fraud investigation of him and the Trump Organization by the New York Attorney General (NYAG). Trump became the first President in American history to assert his 5th Amendment right. While he has the right to do so, unlike a criminal proceeding, it can be used against him to support an inference of guilt in the civil case the NYAG is expected to file. Trump has previously repeatedly suggested that only guilty people plead the 5th.

This article will focus on Tuesday’s events and is heavily based on this Newsweek article. For purposes of this discussion I will treat the article as basically accurate. The article relies on what it claims are two anonymous high level sources familiar with the investigation. While at least writer views those sources skeptically . . .

I will treat it as accurate because some of it is corroborated by other evidence.

The gist of the article is that the compelling evidence justifying the search came from an insider “who was able to identify what classified documents former President Trump was still hiding and even the location of those documents.”

The article describes a grand jury reviewing whether Trump “unlawfully possessed national security information.” The seminal provision in the article states:

“The grand jury concluded that there had been a violation of the law . . . The affidavit to obtain the search warrant, the intelligence source says, contained abundant and persuasive detail that Trump continued to possess the relevant records in violation of federal law, and that investigators had sufficient information to prove that those records were located at Mar-a-Lago — including the detail that they were contained in a specific safe in a specific room.”

There’s a lot to unpack there starting with the first sentence: “The grand jury concluded that there had been a violation of the law.” Really? How did it do that? The normal means for a grand jury to express such a conclusion is with an indictment. Does the wording here suggest Trump has been indicted and that it is under seal? That’s at least a reasonable interpretation. If the source was suggesting that it should be viewed as a major breach of grand jury secrecy rules.

The article then makes clear the insider provided the FBI with “abundant and persuasive detail” that the records were in Mar-a-Lago and even that they were “in a specific safe in a specific room.” This is corroborated by Trump’s own claim that his safe was broke into. I would imagine safe breaking equipment is rather specific and not routinely brought when executing search warrants. The FBI showed up with that specialized equipment.

I think many are missing an important point in this. What greater proof can there be that Trump knew what he was doing was wrong than his hiding the illegally held documents in a safe? In his hubris, Trump was confident that the FBI would never break into a former President’s safe. However, with specific information from an insider that Trump had hidden illegal materials exactly there, they did. Now Trump effectively admits he had illegal stuff by absurdly claiming the FBI planted evidence.

So who is this Mar-a-Lago mole? Many speculate that it is Mark Meadows, as those following this closely point to many supposed clues and hints that he has flipped. Perhaps so, though I am inclined to believe it is someone who spends more time at Mar-a-Lago than Meadows. One thing for certain, whoever it is has to know their name will come out. When Trump is indicted he will receive the affidavit laying out the facts supporting the warrant. At that time, if not before, whoever this is will become known to Trump and the public.

If an indictment does come down, as I believe it will, all shall be revealed.

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Keith

Keith

Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80