-by Helen Klein
I am an average American citizen, other than my life long progressive bent, which makes me somewhat less than average but not by so much. As a long time friend of Howie's, I often use him as a sounding board for my thoughts and opinions as well as outrage. He suggested I write a blog for DWT about my reactions to recent events so here goes.
I have been horrified by TFG ever since he ran for office and became President. (For those who are not aware of this term, TFG stands for The Former Guy, used to avoid mention of his name, which so many of us are now loathe to do.) It is sickening for TFG to be in the forefront of the news again, 24/7. New Yorkers have known for decades what a piece of scum he is, a corrupt, ignorant blowhard and sexual predator only out for himself. We cannot get rid of him, and I fear he will consume the news for the rest of my life, unless he dies first.
Over the four years of his term, I watched the news with increasing dismay, alarm and horror. Some thought he would rise to the occasion. Hah. From the early firing of Comey and initial observations of Rachel Maddow's chart of the increasingly expanding list of firings and changes in personnel, the extent of TFG's blatant malignant narcissism, lack of morality or ethics, misconduct, criminality and efforts to destroy the institutions of our government and democracy increased on steroids over time, with heightening crescendo.
On January 6, 2021, we finally arrived at TFG's efforts to overturn the election and remain in office. Americans watched in horror as armed belligerent nutcases stormed the Capitol and were literally shitting in the building. Nice patriots they were not.The January 6th Committee hearings were incredible, as the facts kept coming. It turned out that the insurrection against the Capitol and our elected representatives was only one aspect of TFG's efforts to keep himself in power.
While we thought we were near the end of the road regarding TFG's myriad efforts to remain in power and we seemed to be having a brief reprieve from TFG constantly in the news until the January 6th Committee hearings resume this fall, we find out that Sidney Powell, well known as the Kracken lawyer, was behind more illegal shenanigans involving hacking of voting machines in a bunch of states. How many more strands of criminality are there to unwind? It is exhausting to keep track of them all. By the way, Stephen Colbert's game of TFG's “wheel of criminality” was hysterical if it weren't so depressing, rattling off dozens of possibilities.
And yet...even that pales with the newest revelations about TFG committing (should I say “likely committing?”) sedition on the grandest scale ever in world history. Woah. He really will make the history books. Even Benedict Arnold had some morality and patriotism. Even Nixon.
Given TFG's history of abusing the Office of the President for personal gain-- think Emoluments Clause as one tiny tidbit-- and his grift of his own supporters in fund raising shenanigans, it is not at all surprising, although beyond horrifying, that he stole government documents and other materials on his way out the door. Of course he did so for his own personal gratification and use. No other explanation makes the slightest bit of sense, though I am sure his attorneys will come up with some nonsense at his trial. This was a President who could not be bothered to read the Daily Presidential Briefs or give a hoot about intelligence briefings, yet he was determined to hold onto Top Secret documents. What the hell for? For money making, surely, and blackmail and bribery, and Michael Cohen's guess, a Get Out of Jail Free card. It is reported that TFG has said the documents “are mine!” They are certainly not, they are ours. They belong to the American people. Crystal clear, hello, as per The Presidential Records Act. No ifs, ands or buts. Every gift, every paper, every note. Everything. NOT HIS.
It is so interesting and deeply concerning to hear and read about the search of MAR. First of all, it should be emphasized that the alarm bells ringing from the affidavit relate only to the first crop of documents TFG took and had at his disposal and eventually returned in January-- the 15 boxes, with all the top secret documents mixed in there. The stuff he held onto that the FBI very recently obtained from the search warrant-- 25 more boxes?-- must be much much worse, as he likely held onto what he thought was the really lucrative stuff. The FBI is probably going through these documents at this very moment. At least I hope so. Why TFG was able to hold off the FBI from reviewing the first 15 boxes needs to be explained. They were retrieved in January and were not reviewed until May? Who knows what else they will find in the newly obtained boxes. That this is all a nightmare for national security is the understatement of the century.
Much to my husband's chagrin, I have been obsessing about how TFG got possession of these documents to begin with. Since Top Secret documents are held in SCIFs (Secure Confidential Information Facilities) how were they removed and never returned without anyone noticing? Did TFG personally check them out? I have trouble imagining him waddling over to a SCIF on his own. If not, then who removed them for him? What instructions did he give? Who decided which ones to remove? Clearly, someone or someones with extremely high clearance had to do so. Kash Patel, perhaps? How come, with all the BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars the government spends of our tax dollars on defense and national security, apparently no one knew documents were missing from the SCIFs? Really? Experts have described the extensive security and procedures involved for the SCIFs. Only people with high security clearance are allowed in and some who have access have said that they must read the materials in the SCIFs and are not allowed to remove them. If this is the case, does the President have special privileges to remove them? If yes, and this is done above board as surely it should be, wouldn't there be an official record of the removal? And a record of their return? Since the material was never returned, why weren't alarm bells going off immediately yet alone months and months? Is there no record of any of this? Were the materials removed surreptitiously without following the security procedures? It seems that no one guarding the SCIFs knew what was going on, with so many documents removed and missing. I hope that facts about all of this are revealed to the public. The audacity of it all! How the hell was this accomplished? The illegality of removing so many national security documents is astounding.
Some of the talking heads who are commenting on this piss me off no end. That guy Brandon Von Brack Rachel Maddow was so thrilled to scoop an interview with really raised my hackles, as he kept focusing on the classification issue and whether Trump had declassified stuff. His opinion was that this distinction was important and could affect indictment despite the fact that this issue is irrelevant to the charges since none mention it, and that this wand of total declassification was thrown into the wind by TFG to serve as a huge excuse and distraction. Von Brack, a former espionage prosecutor, spent most of his time on the show discussing what it would mean if TFG did declassify them, exploring this seriously although there is zero evidence that this was the case. First of all, the assertion that everything was declassified was not known by at least 18 of the critical people who were in the White House with TFG. For example, several chiefs of staff, e.g., Mick Muvaney and John Kelly, have said they never heard such a thing. John Bolton laughed and described it as ridiculous. Second, why focus on what a known liar has said to cover his ass after the fact. So I do not understand why Von Brack went down this route and took up much of Rachel’s time with it when he could have been talking about other aspects. I think Rachel was a little taken aback. I was not enamored with him.
The other ones I don’t quite get lately are two lawyers, Chuck Rosenberg and Dan Goldberg. Both are brilliant and I admire their expertise and most of the time think they are great, but I do not grasp why they both have made similar points: that to move towards indicting TFG, it must be also shown that TFG himself was responsible. They asserted it is possible others may be responsible, either involved with TFG or on their own (!!!) - the latter suggesting or implying that TFG might not be responsible. Really? Only TFG could have directed and gotten the highly classified stuff out, only TFG resisted giving it back, only TFG had it at his own freaking residence!!! To anyone with a shred of common sense, there is no way in hell TFG was not only directly involved but was actually the head of the whole thing. Of course others undoubtedly assisted him and should be held accountable as well but so what. Nothing else makes the slightest bit of sense. So why do these two lawyers make sure to add this point to making indictment questionable? Surely it would be TFG's defense lawyers trying to get him off the hook by crying, “Oh, someone else was responsible for taking and having all these documents stored in TFG’s basement and residence. TFG knew nothing about it.”
I do love Neal Katyal, Lawrence Tribe, Glenn Kirschner, Andrew Weissmann and a few others, who do not go sideways and attempt to throw bath water on indictment. The national security experts are also great, showing horror and extreme concern about why TFG had the documents and what he planned to do or has already done with them. The unsecured nature of the storage is unbelievable. Way too many random people had easy access to the documents, guests as well as the chefs, bartenders and maids at MAR. Not that this is a route to be taken, the latter are surely underpaid and could have potential motives of their own. Are they even in the country legally? I dislike bringing this up but most of the workers on his estates and golf courses were illegal and underpaid so this would be nothing new in TFG's world. One security expert noted that any country with a decent intelligence apparatus would be delinquent if it did not have at least one spy at MAR. Furthermore, apparently TFG's lawyer, Evan Corcoran, went through the boxes himself in June to check whether there was anymore top secret stuff present and wrote a memo testifying that there was not. Of course this was proven to be a big lie. He and Christina Bobb, the lawyer who signed off on this, are in deep trouble. They either lied up the wazoo or were lied to by TFG and thus could be witnesses at his trial. Did Corcoran have security clearance to search for top secret documents? Uh, no. He was just hired by TFG in April. Surely the FBI never scrutinized him for clearance. It is extremely unlikely that anyone at MAR has high level security clearance. Even TFG no longer had it!
Republicans who have supported TFG hook, line and sinker may well have their comeuppance in November. My fingers are crossed! They seem to be running out of excuses for TFG's behavior. Frankly, there aren't any. Even Karl Rove has spoken out. Really. Our very own war criminal has his limits.
All in all, it is a fiasco for the country. And hopefully for TFG. Can't wait to watch it all unfold. Politics have become a much watched reality show for me.