MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — Three weeks ago, the FBI recovered hundreds of pages of top secret documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, some from U.S. intelligence human sources. If you or I or David Petraeus or Sandy Berger had hoarded these documents, we would be facing federal felony charges, and, with a law signed by President Trump in 2018 — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a sentence of up to five years.
“By signing this Act today … I am ensuring that this lawful and essential intelligence program will continue to protect Americans for at least the next six years,” President Trump said of the law that updated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The revised law includes Section 1924 that makes it a felony crime to wrongfully possess top secret documents. “We cannot let our guard down in the face of foreign threats to our safety, our freedom, and our way of life,” Trump said.
At an Aug. 18, 2016 campaign rally in Charlotte where supporters chanted “Lock her up!”, candidate Trump said, “In my administration, I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”
Mar-A-Lago is a resort that doubles as Trump’s home. It has not been designated as a secure place to review top secret documents and it has almost certainly attracted the attention of adversarial foreign intelligence spies.
NBC News reported that in a late-night Wednesday filing responding to Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review documents, the Justice Department:
• Revealed that it seized more than 100 unique classified documents — beyond what Trump’s team initially turned over in January 2022 and then later in June;
• Argued that Trump’s legal team intentionally misled investigators — by signing a letter stating that the documents turned over in June were part of a “diligent” effort to locate and produce “any and all documents” in question;
• And alleged that after further investigation, the government discovered new evidence that “records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
What could possibly be at stake? Why should we be concerned about the careless handling of human intelligence by any U.S. official?
This was reported by the New York Times on Oct. 5, 2021: “Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said. The message, in an unusual top secret cable, said that the C.I.A.’s counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised. In recent years, adversarial intelligence services in countries such as Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan have been hunting down the C.I.A.’s sources and in some cases turning them into double agents.”
On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News: “Most Republicans, including me, believe when it comes to Trump, there is no law. It’s all about getting him. And I’ll say this: If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle … there’ll be riots in the streets.”
All about “getting him?” How about the Russian FSB out to get American spies in the Kremlin?
Graham is the senator that has maintained the closest relationship with the former president, so this was a warning. Trump then posted the Fox News clip on his social media site. The last time Trump summoned his mob — on Jan. 6, 2021 (“Will be wild”) — insurrectionists assaulted the U.S. Capitol. According to Insider.com, at least 896 people are now facing federal charges.
Also on Sunday, Trump sought to undermine FBI: “When are the great Agents, and others, in the FBI going to say ‘We aren’t going to take it anymore?’”
And at 1:46 a.m. Tuesday, an unhinged Trump made this bizarre post: “The Presidential Election was BADLY & IRREPARABLY TAINTED by the FBI’s FAKE description of the ‘Laptop from Hell’ to Facebook & the LameStream Media — & for MANY other reasons as well. Declare the rightful winner, or hold a new Election, NOW!”
We know from former attorney general Bill Barr and a group of eight conservative jurists — including former Sens. John Danforth and Gordon Smith, Republican lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg; former federal judges Thomas Griffith and J. Michael Luttig and former solicitor general Theodore Olson — that there was no widespread election fraud.
“We conclude that Donald Trump and his supporters had their day in court and failed to produce substantive evidence to make their case,” the group wrote in a 72-page report that analyzed 64 court cases pursued by the 2020 Trump campaign.
All of this prompted Los Angeles Times reporter David Lazarus to tweet: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but Trump is now under investigation for tax fraud, election fraud, insurrection and violating the Espionage Act. And he’s the Republican frontrunner for 2024.”
Through the din of scandal are Trump’s own words ... “No one will be above the law.”
The columnist is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana at www.howeypolitics.com. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.
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