The Art of the Steal

As the news of the boxes of documents Trump took with him to Mar-A-Lago began to unfold, we realized that these were more than souvenirs and mementos, because we know that Donald J. Trump is motivated by profit. In those many months before the FBI collected what was hoped to be the final batch of documents, how might Trump have been practicing his famous “Art of the Deal?” There are reports that during his time in office, Trump took “boxes of documents” with him on trips to foreign countries, that were stored in hotel rooms. Were those documents compromised? How many of those secret documents were compromised while they are at Trump’s Florida estate for more than a year, with little regard for security? As President, Trump had little interest in intelligence briefings and stopped scheduling those briefings after the January 6th Capitol riots. In a CBS interview in February, President Biden was asked if Trump should continue to receive security briefings, and answered “I think not.” But the worst-case scenario is that the damage has already been done.

Keith Olbermann on his Countdown podcast noted (#21, August 29), the following sequence of events:

  • July 31, 2019: Donald Trump spoke to Putin in private.
  • August 3, 2019: Trump requested a list of our top spies from Daniel Ray Coats, the director of National Intelligence.
  • August 12, 2019: the Washington Post reports that Trump’s “Interaction with a foreign leader” had prompted someone in the US Intelligence community to file an official whistleblower complaint
  • September 10, 2019: A Russian newspaper reported the name and location of a former Putin official, living in suburban Washington, D.C. “may have been an American agent, spirited out of Russia after providing information linking Putin to interference in the 2016 U.S. election (reference: “Russia Hoax” and Reality Winner earlier in this chapter)
  • January 21, 2021: Trump leaves office with boxes of secret documents, including one marked “HCS” (Human intelligence sources, likely including double agents)
  • October 6, 2021: the New York Times reported that the CIA sent out a top-secret cable warning agents were dying or being compromised. Dozens of informants have stopped informing.

    I will add a few more items to the timeline…
  • Friday, May 6, 2022: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration emailed Trump to say materials are missing and may be at Mar-a-Lago
  • The following Monday, May 9, 2022: Videos reported by the Daily Mail reveal document boxes being loaded onto Trump’s plane as he heads to his New Jersey golf club at Bedminster.
  • August 8, 2022: The FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida golf resort.
    Let’s add a couple more events to the timeline…
  • Friday, September 9, 2022: Ex-FBI official, Peter Strzok, floated a theory that Trump transferred documents to his Bedminster golf course prior to the FBI search.
  • The following Monday, September 12, 2022: Trump flew from Florida to New Jersey to hold meetings with his Bedminster staff… out on the greens.

A suspicious person might think Trump was instructing employees, at a location where the only bugs are insects, on what to do if the FBI shows up. The resort does advertise meeting rooms, after all.

Another possible piece of the puzzle is provided by national talk show host Thom Hartmann who questions whether the investment Kushner received was a cover for a deal between Trump and the Saudis for stolen secret payroll information on American spies. Are the pieces starting to reveal a picture?

Here is another piece: Politico reports that Mar-A-Lago is a haven for foreign spies.

There was clearly a break in the chain of custody of documents, and the public revelation of the potential for compromise of secret documents will damage the effectiveness of our intelligence agencies. Unless there are decisive convictions, unless it can be shown that procedures are established to preclude such events, the United States can no longer be trusted to keep secrets secure.

If it can be shown that Donald J. Trump, either knowingly or through negligence, shared any of those secret documents with our adversaries, that could rise to the level of treason.