The Partisan Bureaucrat Behind the Mar-a-Lago Raid
We need the truth! If something like this can happen without consequences, the future of our nation is in danger.
From The Federalist. Last week’s raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home represented the culmination of a criminal investigation pushed by a partisan bureaucrat who called January 6, 2021, the “absolute worst” day of his life. And while since last Monday, the country has focused on the FBI’s raid of Trump’s personal residence, seeing that as the crossing of the Rubicon, the die was cast this spring when the DOJ went to the grand jury about Trump’s presidential records.
Reporting by the New York Times and Washington Post — some from months ago — when pieced together and considered in tandem with past practices related to presidential and other governmental records, reveals this reality. The relevant reporting started no later than February of this year, when the Washington Post broke the news that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) confirmed in a statement, issued by the then-archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, that in January of 2022 NARA had retrieved from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of presidential records, which according to sources included items such as mementos, gifts, and letters. NARA added that Trump representatives were “continuing to search” for additional records….
During the spring of 2021, NARA reportedly “discovered some high-profile documents missing, such as correspondence with North Korean’s leader Kim Jong Un, that Trump once described as ‘love letters,’” the letter President Barack Obama had left for Trump, and a map of Hurricane Dorian that had been altered with a black marker by Trump. And according to Ferriero’s congressional testimony, NARA “began talking with Trump’s people right after they left office” about “presidential records….”
The Leaks Begin — And So Does the Witch Hunt
As noted above, Ferriero confirmed for the press in February 2022 that the 15 boxes of material had been retrieved by the NARA. Then in a February 10, 2022, article, the Post reported two significant leaks: first, that within the material returned to NARA were documents marked as classified, and second, that “archives officials asked the Justice Department to look into the matter…”
By March 2022, NARA was reportedly in “‘consultation’ with the Justice Department,” and by April 7, 2022, according to leaks to the Post, the DOJ had launched an investigation into Trump related to the 15 boxes of material retrieved by NARA. Another DOJ leaker reportedly told Newsweek that in late April 2022, “a federal grand jury began deliberating whether there was a violation of the Presidential Records Act or whether President Trump unlawfully possessed national security information,” and that “the grand jury concluded that there had been a violation of the law….”
‘Classified’ Is a Red Herring
Shortly after news broke of the raid, and as the public backlash to the apparent political targeting of a former president of the United States began to swell, DOJ leakers took to their PR teams at the New York Times and Washington Post to spin the search as a drastic response to a dire problem: Trump’s supposed possession of documents about nuclear secrets….
Rather than prompt the public’s concern, however, the country, whose memory of the Times and Post’s peddling of the Russia-collusion hoax remained fresh, ridiculed the posited justification — that Trump had stolen nuclear secrets — for the raid. The focus of coverage, nonetheless, remained on the supposed “classified” nature of the materials stored at Mar-a-Lago, especially after the release of the inventory list that documented the seizing of classified documents.
Trump and his defenders countered these claims by stressing that as president, he had declassified all of the documents he had removed from the White House — something within his constitutional authority as the commander-in-chief. However, a close look at the search warrant reveals the “classification” question is a red herring: None of the three criminal statutes relied upon by the DOJ to justify the search required the material sought to be classified.
The Criminal Codes in the Search Warrant Don’t Care About Classification Status
Specifically, the search warrant specified that the “property to be seized” included “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793, 2017, or 1591.” Material need not be classified to fall within any of those criminal code provisions.
Rather, for instance, under Section 793, also called the Espionage Act, it is a crime for a person with “unauthorized possession of” documents or information “relating to the national defense,” that the possessor “has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation,” to “willfully retain the same and fail to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it….”
The second statute cited, Section 2017, criminalizes the removal, destruction, or concealing of government records, which would include presidential papers, and again that provision of the criminal code does not require the documents to be classified. And the third statute, Section 1591, addresses “Obstruction of Justice,” but before moving there, the warrant’s reference to Section 2017, read in light of the leakers’ comments, proves informative to understand the latest targeting of Trump….
Leakers Gave Away the Game
Putting aside for a moment the DOJ’s reliance on “Obstruction of Justice,” this leak reveals the raid of Mar-a-Lago resulted from the criminal investigation into Trump’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act, prompted by NARA under the leadership of then-Archivist Ferriero. And for three reasons, Americans can safely conclude the DOJ’s launching of a criminal investigation — and its use of a grand jury — to target former president Trump was a political witch hunt….
Numerous public statements by Ferriero, who at the time of the referral to the DOJ served as the country’s archivist, suggest a partisan goal underlying the referral. First was Ferriero’s bizarre overreaction to “watching the Trumps leaving the White House and getting off in the helicopter” while someone was “carrying a white banker box….”
Then there was Ferriero’s admission that he decided to retire at the end of April 2022 “because he is worried about the political future.” “It’s important to me, that this administration replace me,” Ferriero said, adding, “I’m concerned about what’s going to happen in 2024. I don’t want it left to … the unknowns of the presidential election.”
That’s quite a strange statement for an archivist to make, suggesting as it does that politics matter in the performance of his role.
Third, Ferriero’s comments during a post-retirement interview discussing Jan. 6, suggest he holds an anti-Trump bias. … The former archivist called January 6, 2021, “the worst day of his tenure as the keeper of the nation’s collective memory,” and “the worst day of my life” — “the absolute worst.”
It is not merely … Ferriero’s apparent bias that suggests a political motive, however: It is the reality that even if the documents were classified, Trump has the right to access them and NARA could have worked with the former president to set up a secure location for his presidential papers, which is precisely what Ferriero and the NARA did with Barack Obama….
So if upon receiving the 15 boxes of documents back from Trump, NARA had legitimate concerns about the security of Mar-a-Lago — a strange worry to hold given that the Secret Service must safeguard the location to protect Trump and his family — a bureaucracy committed to the country and safeguarding her artifacts would have worked to arrange for the documents to be preserved under the auspices of NARA control in a location chosen by Trump, as it had done with Obama.
It’s the Grand Jury, Stupid
But the presidential records were never the concern; nor were the documents with classified markings, which remained secured along with the Trump family. The goal was always to get Trump, which is why NARA referred the matter to the DOJ, which then used a grand jury to investigate the former president of the United States. And once the grand jury began the case, under the apparent auspices of a violation of the Presidential Records Act — if the sources are believed — the DOJ teed up the possibility of an “Obstruction of Justice” charge for anything less than full cooperation in the mind of the FBI.
Whether Trump’s lawyer signed a declaration that inaccurately claimed Trump had no documents marked as classified is unknown. If so, it would appear an obstruction charge will be forthcoming, but then so will a fight over whether Trump’s lawyer meant Trump had not retained any “classified” documents since they had all been declassified and the marking just not fixed….
An Espionage Act charge would likewise face a high hurdle given the DOJ would need to establish that Trump had “reason to believe” the national defense information “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” Further, to the extent the Biden administration would seek to charge Trump with mishandling classified material, that theory would fail given Trump’s absolute declassification authority.
That leaves (at least at this point — the creativity of the deep state remains untapped) Section 2017, which criminalizes the removal, destruction, or concealing of government records. But Trump did not remove the records and likely did not designate the records for shipment by GSA. And even if he did, Section 2017 seeks to protect government property, and if what Trump possessed consisted of mere copies of government records, there should be no violation of this criminal provision.
Given these problems with the underlying legal theories, targeting a political enemy and former president of the United States with a search warrant represents an unforgivable lapse in judgment. And as for the claim that the DOJ needed to recover these vital national security documents, the shifting stories spread by leakers suggest this rationale is simply a pretext….
What do you think? How are you praying for Trump? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Excerpt from The Federalist. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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