Justice Department responds to Trump team motion, says they’ve already finished ‘filter team’ work

Justice Department responds to Trump team motion, says they’ve already finished ‘filter team’ work

The weekend saw some extremely bizarre action in Donald Trump’s attempts to claw back government records seized by federal agents at Mar-a-Lago, with a friendly judge indicating on Saturday a potential willingness to appoint a “special master” to review the documents for that purpose. The judge’s order that the Department of Justice begin preparing for that possibility caused an uproar among legal analysts observing the case, as the notion seemed ridiculous on its face.

Campaign Action

The Trump legal team’s filings asked for a special master to review whether the government should return documents based on Trump’s “executive privilege,” but that’s simply … not a thing. At all. Trump is no longer president and has no such privileges in the first place, and an assertion that “executive” documents are the property of a former president in the face of the post-Nixon laws that clearly define them as government property is a theory so comical that only grifters attached to Donald Trump could even land on such a thing.

Would it mean appointing a special master to review above-top-secret classified documents and decide whether that there might be any Donald Trump should be allowed to keep? To review White House documents from the Trump administration that, by law, are to be kept by the National Archives and not be given away as party favors to Mar-a-Lago guests? The judge indicated a willingness to move forward on a special master-based plan before even waiting for a Department of Justice response to the Trump “legal” team’s motion, and relying on a Trump legal team to not fundamentally misrepresent the facts of a legal case is a level of gullibility that judges should at this point have left behind.

The Trump filing was prolific in misrepresenting the facts at hand, and that’s even without Trump legal vulture Evan Corcoran failing to disclose his own status as a key player in Trump’s attempt to hide the classified-and-not documents. Now the Justice Department gets to respond, and the odds are good the judge is going to be peeved when she learns for the first time, for example, that the warrant was based in part on suspected violations of the Espionage Act.

The Department of Justice has now offered a brief preliminary response to the judge, and it’s full of new news. As reported by The Washington Post, today’s filing indicates that the FBI has already finished its own “filter team” review weeding out seized documents that may fall under attorney-client privilege. A “limited set” of documents that “potentially” contain such information were found. Those documents won’t necessarily just be handed back; a court will have to decide that on a document-by-document basis.

That the “filter team” has already completed its work, however, makes the notion of a special master even less plausible. The documents were filtered as the government said they would be, they will not be turned over to the government teams conducting investigations of the potential criminal acts outlined in the initial Mar-a-Lago affidavit and warrant, and it’s done. Unless the Trump team really does intend to pursue the theory that Trump’s nonexistent “executive” powers trump the powers of the actual Executive Branch, there’s nothing more to do here.

The other tidbit of news is that the classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago appear to already be in the hands of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Along with the Department of Justice, they are “currently facilitating a classification review” of those documents. That makes it even more unlikely that any judge is going to take the already absurdly implausible step of demanding intelligence officials give those documents back.

More importantly, it means that the damage assessment from Trump’s mishandling of the documents has already begun. Any documents that left government control may have been seen by unknown third parties; we’ve already been told that among the documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago were highly classified documents that could potentially identify U.S. espionage assets abroad.

So now the process of potentially pulling back at-risk spies, warning foreign collaborators, and taking other precautions based on the potential “burning” of all those sources has begun, and we’ll likely know the results only long, long after it has been completed. If at all.

Donald Trump and his associates have, once again, potentially done long-term damage to U.S. national security. The Republican Party continues to back him even now that we are in a worst-case scenario, because of course they do—the party does not give a flying damn about national security, if harming it promotes their own interests.

News outlets that let Fascists say stuff like Hillary’s emails were “worse” than Trump stealing classified documents are endorsing the validity of that lie by inviting them on a legitimate platform to say it the same way they allow the same Fascists to lie about the 2020 election https://t.co/LtaM6Zdm8z

— Matt Negrin, HOST OF HARDBALL AT 7PM ON MSNBC (@MattNegrin) August 29, 2022

What Trump’s actually done here is one of two things. He either brought above-top-secret documents potentially outing U.S. espionage assets to Mar-a-Lago because he and his entire staff are made up of blundering incompetents. Or, and this becomes the far more likely scenario after we’ve learned that Trump’s team lied to government officials in asserting to them that all the classified documents had been handed over, pre-warrant, Trump took those most sensitive of documents on purpose.

There’s only one reason a money-obsessed grifter with a known history of corrupt acts would so such a thing, and we all know what it is.

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: