Trump, by keeping classified documents, again shows disdain for law and order
The law surrounding documents at Trump’s home is being misstated by MAGA acolytes. Facts are being made up.
If we just look at the container containing “Top Secret/SCI” (Secure Compartmentalized Information) there are laws and regulations that they can only be read in a special intrusion free room called a scif. Moreover when anything is declassified there is a process for it. The classification markings must immediately be stricken from them before they leave the special vaults where they are held.
Saying all he has to do is say something is declassified is nonsense. Trump once tweeted he declassified something only to later argue in Court, when the press wanted to see it, that that is inadequate. There is a formal process and he knows that. MAGA Congressmen know that too.
As to what was taken there are other markings after the “SCI” which we are not allowed to know. I would guess there may things like whose approvals are needed to look at the documents. There could be project identification like “hydrogen bomb plans” or “state department spy information on Russian nuclear warheads.” Who knows. This class has had specialists from affected agencies agree that any release endangers the national safety and its collection technics.
You have read about classification disagreements but it’s always about documents two levels of classification down. Not the “eyes only” stuff.
One of the charges being considered against the target is that they “illegally retained” the documents. (Trump foolishly admitted he had them and we now know he did not turn them over when they were subpoenaed.) The claim they were “planted” fell when one of his attorneys admitted on FOX TV that Trump was watching the whole seizure from New York via CCTV. Plus a receipt was provided and signed by his on-site representative.
“Espionage” is a huge statute so we cannot read much into it other than it is much more serious than the violation Sec. 1924 and mere improper “possession” which was the crux of possible “confidential” material in H. Clinton’s email. The judge in Trump’s case clearly thinks there is evidence of wrongful taking, criminal avoidance, and possible criminal use going on.
Espionage is so serious the “document” in question does not even need to be formally classified before we are protected by this law. Garland at DOJ has always been by the book so I am positive anything he thinks is a stretch will never see the light of day. He brought down the Oklahoma City bombers with dogged detail work to be sure everything stuck. He was that way as a Federal Judge too. All we know now – and all we may ever know – is that “eyes only” material was illegally and dangerously mishandled over an extended period of time.
Consider the other MAGA excuses whipping up frenzy. If these were boxes with no strategic value there was no reason to have worthless stuff at Trump’s home. On the other hand there was no reason to fail to produce worthless documents when subpoenaed. Neither excuse works. Completely contradictory, they are nothing more than people throwing any excuse that might float someone’s boat against the wall in order to misdirect us and feed hatred.
Handling secrets cavalierly drew rebukes from Israel when Trump was in office. Now, possible espionage is not a political issue. It is a safety issue which affects you and me! (Was the Saudi 2 billion consulting fee for a file??? Who knows at this point. But any possibility of leaks had to be stopped.)
We just have to wait to see where this goes. It’s inexcusable, no matter. But the MAGA reaction to hide that once again shows it knows no limits and at heart despises the police and everything else associated with law and order which gets in its way.
Conrad F. Cropsey