Donald Trump has tried every excuse imaginable for why he stole hundreds of top secret documents, knowingly kept them in lightly guarded rooms in his house (including in the desk in his office), and jealously guarded them like Gollum with his Precious, or Lauren Boebert with her guns, or Matt Gaetz with Tiger Beat’s latest proprietary subscription list.
They planted the documents! No, wait. They were magically declassified! Uh, no. He was just bringing work home—because his regular house has a toilet, too, you know! Wait, no one will ever believe that one. Barack Obama did it first! Yeah, that’s it. And, look! He’s Black! Case closed!
None of these explanations held up to even the barest whiff of scrutiny, of course, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from continuing to fling al dente dinosaur pasta against the rattletrap walls of his M.C. Escher-inspired mind palace.
Of course, now that President Joe Biden has his own, far less serious, issue with classified documents, Trump is doing his best to twist reality into a doughy, five-dimensional pretzel. And he’s doing a really bad job of it, naturally.
Former President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that the government documents the FBI recovered from Mar-a-Lago last summer were just empty folders marked "classified" or "confidential."
"When I was in the Oval Office, or elsewhere, 'papers' were distributed to groups of people & me, they would often be in a striped paper folder with 'Classified' or 'Confidential' or another word on them," he wrote on his Twitter-esque social media site Truth Social. "When the session was over, they would collect the paper(s), but not the folders, & I saved hundreds of them.
Well, that’s pretty bizarre behavior, but okay. I remember when I was a kid and The Empire Strikes Back was playing in theaters. It was such a cool movie, I kept the ticket stub for a while. I don’t know where it is anymore, of course, because I’m not 15 fucking years old. Not sure why I brought that up. Seems relevant somehow.
He added: "Remember, these were just ordinary, inexpensive folders with various words printed on them, but they were a 'cool' keepsake." Trump also referred to the FBI as the "Gestapo" and "Trump Hating Marxist Thugs," saying that perhaps they "took some of these empty folders when they Raided Mar-a-Lago, & counted them as a document, which they are not." And he reiterated the false claim that the FBI "planted" evidence at Mar-a-Lago when it executed a search warrant at the property in August — a claim his lawyers have stopped short of repeating in court filings.
Really? That’s why the government subpoenaed Trump for these materials, raided his Florida home, and assigned a special counsel to investigate further? Because they were nothing but “cool” folders with words on them?
Trump, of course, has a penchant for collecting “keepsakes” (and selling cheap ones to his gullible followers). Remember, there were more than just folders in that seized stash of stuff he wasn’t supposed to have.
The Post and The Times reported that some of the items in the boxes included letters to Trump from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — which Trump described as beautiful "love letters," a note from former President Barack Obama, a map on which Trump drew with a Sharpie to mark a possible hurricane path to Alabama, and at least one piece of clothing.
Gifts that made their way from the White House to Mar-a-Lago include a plaque and replica of a piece of the US-Mexico border wall, a signature Trump 2016 campaign pledge, which was previously displayed in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, the Post said. A miniature replica of Air Force One, decorated the way Trump wanted to repaint and redesign it, went from being displayed in the Oval Office to a prominent spot in Mar-a-Lago's lobby.
Of course, it’s fair to point out that we may have never heard a peep about Trump’s docs constipation if he hadn’t brought it up himself! After wasting months trying to convince our erstwhile boy-king to return the materials, the Department of Justice finally forced the issue. Had Trump simply handled the situation as Biden has (by fully cooperating and immediately returning the documents as soon as they were discovered), we’d have likely heard about neither of these cases. And Trump took it upon himself to announce the FBI’s raid—apparently thinking it would rile up his base for the next flying monkey foray.
Meanwhile, it’s particularly sad that Trump is trotting out the “planted evidence” excuse again. There’s never been a scintilla of proof to support this conspiracy theory, and even Trump’s lawyers haven’t dared float it as a possible explanation for Trump’s egregiously weird behavior. In fact, Judge Raymond Dearie, who briefly served as a “special master” in this case after a Trump-friendly judge took it upon herself to assiduously research case law and precedent in the “Help Timmy Find His Grandma’s House” maze on her Denny’s kids’ placemat, demanded that Trump’s legal team put up or shut up when it came to Trump’s wildly irresponsible claim—and they opted to shut up.
Of course, the main reason Trump’s case touched off such a media firestorm is that he handled the matter more like a Russian asset than an ex-U.S. president. In a Jan. 11 story, Business Insider noted that such oversights actually happen fairly frequently; what’s rare is a former government official hanging onto documents after being repeatedly ordered to return them.
"This kind of inadvertent spillage of classified information happens fairly frequently, and it is typically handled administratively — the individual self-reports, the relevant agency conducts a damage assessment, and the employee responsible might get some sort of reprimand or flag for their clearance," Matt Miller, a former Obama administration DOJ spokesperson, told Business Insider. “This kind of thing unfortunately happens a lot, and I'm struggling to think of previous examples where the government agency informed the public, absent some sort of egregious spill, major disciplinary action, etc.”
Ty Cobb, who served as White House special counsel under Trump, also noted that Biden’s situation is fairly typical:
“You could go into any presidency, years after their service, and probably in every presidential library there's a handful of things that were classified at the time that they were taken.”
The main difference between Trump’s and Biden’s cases? Biden cooperated, and Trump didn’t. There’s really not much more to it than that, and the facts are the facts—no matter how many fatty brain pellets DJT drops for his hungry horde.
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