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Friday, June 09, 2023

Analysis: Trump Indictment Shows His Actions Were More Blatant Than Known - The New York Times

Indictment Presents Evidence Trump’s Actions Were More Blatant Than Known

"The accounts in the 49-page indictment provide compelling evidence of a shocking indifference toward some of the country’s most sensitive secrets.

Stacks of boxes in a storeroom that also appears to hold garments and a musical instrument in a case. One of the boxes has fallen and spilled its contents of newspapers, photos and various documents.
The indictment described a knocked-over stack of boxes lying in a storage room, their contents — including a secret intelligence document — spilled on the floor.via Department of Justice

The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump that was unsealed on Friday provided compelling evidence that Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents was more cavalier, and his efforts to obstruct the government’s attempts to retrieve them more blatant, than previously known.

On nearly every one of its 49 pages, the indictment revealed yet another example of Mr. Trump’s indifference toward the country’s most sensitive secrets and of his persistent willfulness in having his aides and lawyers stymie government attempts to get the records back.

Mr. Trump will have an opportunity in court to rebut the account presented by the special counsel Jack Smith. But the evidence cited refers to records casually kept in a bathroom and on a ballroom stage at Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Florida. There was also a description of a knocked-over stack of boxes lying in a basement storage room, their contents, including a secret intelligence document, spilled on the floor.

At one point, the indictment included an almost cartoonish image. Quoting notes from one of Mr. Trump’s own lawyers, it relates how the former president made a “plucking motion” as if to suggest that the lawyer should go through a folder full of classified materials and “if there’s anything really bad in there, like, you know, pluck it out.”

A classic example of what is known as a “speaking indictment,” the charging document, which was filed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Miami, did far more than merely lay out seven crimes, among them obstruction of justice and the willful retention of national defense records.

The indictment also showcased the bedrock elements of the former president’s personality: his sense of bombast and vengeance, his belief that everything he touches belongs to him and his admiration of people for their underhanded craftiness and gamesmanship with the authorities.

It recounts, for instance, how Mr. Trump had only praise for an unnamed aide to Hillary Clinton who — at least in his narration of the story — helped Mrs. Clinton destroy tens of thousands of emails from a private server.

“He did a great job,” the indictment quotes Mr. Trump as telling one of his lawyers.

Why? Because, in Mr. Trump’s account, the aide ensured that Mrs. Clinton “didn’t get in any trouble.”

The startling collection of covert material referred to in the indictment included documents about U.S. domestic nuclear programs, potential vulnerabilities to an attack on the homeland and plans for retaliatory strikes on foreign adversaries.

In the bluntest language possible, the indictment explained just how dangerous this was.

“The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collections methods,” the indictment said.

Though the strength of Mr. Smith’s case will ultimately be tested by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the evidence that the special counsel and his team assembled was abundant and varied. The indictment included photographs, a transcript of a recording of Mr. Trump and, of course, the lawyer’s notes, which were obtained through a highly unusual legal tactic of working around attorney-client privilege.

All of this taken together offered an intimate glimpse into Mr. Trump’s world at Mar-a-Lago, a domain where he apparently enforced a sense of personal control.

In one anecdote in the indictment, two employees of Mar-a-Lago are described exchanging text messages about Mr. Trump asking Walt Nauta, one of his close aides, to move boxes of government records out of a business center at the property so that other workers could use it as an office. Mr. Nauta was charged with conspiring with Mr. Trump to obstruct justice in the case.

“Ok,” the indictment quotes one of the employees writing to the other, “so potus specifically asked Walt for those boxes to be in the business center because they are his ‘papers.’”

In a similar fashion, the indictment describes Mr. Trump as seeking to stonewall both the prosecutors who issued a subpoena to him for all of the classified material he had and the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, whom he had hired specifically to help him comply with that subpoena.

“I don’t want anyone looking through my boxes, I really don’t,” it quotes Mr. Trump as telling Mr. Corcoran. “I don’t want you looking through my boxes.”

The indictment did not merely accuse Mr. Trump of holding on to all these files. It also noted that on at least two occasions, he showed — or came close to showing — classified material to others who lacked the proper security clearances to view them.

One of those episodes took place in August or September 2021 when Mr. Trump showed a representative of his political action committee the map of a certain country, commenting that a military operation there “was not going well,” the indictment said.

It went on to describe how Mr. Trump quickly realized that he should not have been displaying the map and told the representative to “not get too close.”

The indictment also related an account of a meeting in July 2021 when Mr. Trump brandished a “plan of attack” against Iran to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

To the apparent discomfort of his aides — one of whom declared, “Now we have a problem” amid laughter — Mr. Trump admitted that he could have declassified the “highly confidential” document when he was president, but now it was too late because he was out of office.

And yet, as the indictment described in painful detail, he almost seemed unable to control himself.

“This is secret information,” it quoted him as saying. “Look, look at this.”

Alan Feuer covers extremism and political violence. He joined The Times in 1999. @alanfeuer

Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT"

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Newsom threatens DeSantis with kidnapping charges after migrants dumped twice in four days

Newsom threatens DeSantis with kidnapping charges after migrants dumped twice in four days

“After 16 South Americans were abandoned outside a church on Friday, another flight of 20 migrants arrived on Monday morning

Exterior of church in California
Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, said that 16 South Americans were abandoned outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday. Photograph: Tran Nguyen/AP

For the second time in four days, Florida picked up people seeking asylum and took them by private jet to Sacramento at taxpayer expense, California officials said on Monday after another flight arrived at a local airport.

California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, on Monday branded his rightwing Republican Florida counterpart, Ron DeSantis, a “small, pathetic man”, and appeared to threaten kidnapping charges after the first incident in which a group of migrants was dumped at a Sacramento church.

Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, said in a statement that 16 South Americans abandoned outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday were “in possession of documentation purporting to be from the state of Florida”, and may have been duped into boarding charter flights via New Mexico after entering the US in Texas. On Monday morning, a second flight of 20 migrants arrived in the state’s capital.

The newest arrivals remained at the airport for a couple of hours and were fed before being transported to a “religious institution”, said Kim Nava, a Sacramento county spokesperson.

“Our county social workers are en route and are going to assess all those folks, make sure they have the services and support that they need,” Nava said.

The episode has parallels to what critics called a similar “soulless” stunt orchestrated by DeSantis last year in which his administration abandoned several dozen mostly Venezuelan migrants in Martha’s Vineyard.

Newsom, in a tweet posted Monday lunchtime directed at DeSantis, said: “You small, pathetic man. This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?” and linked to a section of California’s penal code stating anybody who “abducts or takes by force or fraud” a person found within the state “is guilty of kidnapping”.

Bonta, meanwhile, also said Florida was guilty of “state-sanctioned kidnapping” if it was found to be behind the flights. He told the New York Times the migrants showed documents to California authorities that indicated their travel had been administered by the Florida division of emergency management and its contractor, Vertol Systems Company. Vertol Systems is the same contractor hired last year by Florida’s department of emergency management to move migrants from Texas to Massachusetts for $1.6m.

“While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: state-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting,” Bonta said in the statement.

The flight was operated by Berry Aviation, an active US defense contractor, according to flight tracking data on FlightRadar24. When reached on the phone, the company declined to comment. Acorn Growth Companies, an aerospace investment firm, which owns Berry Aviation, did not answer calls.

Acorn’s managing partner, Rick Nagel of Oklahoma, is a major Republican fundraiser. He was the campaign treasurer for congressman Tom Cole, who chairs the House rules committee. Cole is a former head of the Republican National Congressional Committee and a fervent backer of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies.

Lawyers for the migrants caught up in DeSantis’s stunt last September were on the ground in Sacramento on Monday, and say the circumstances are nearly identical, with the group having been promised accommodation, jobs and clothing that never materialized, and with no advance notice to social services.

“We’re trying to establish what exactly they were told when they boarded the flights,” said Oren Sellstrom, litigation director of Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights.

“This kind of conduct is reprehensible, morally repugnant and also illegal. To the extent the individuals flown to California had the same kind of fraud and misrepresentation visited upon them that we saw with our Martha’s Vineyard clients, we fully intend to hold Governor DeSantis and his co-conspirators accountable in a court of law.”

The community group Sacramento area congregations together (ACT) has been assisting the migrants, who are mostly Colombian and Venezuelan, with immediate needs. Cecilia Flores, spokesperson for ACT, said the group was taken to the church by bus and dumped there.

“They started out, ‘What city is this? What state are we in?’” Flores told CNN.

“According to them, they they got off of the bus, the person who was driving rang the doorbell of the building and told them they would be right back, and the bus pulled away and never came back.

“One of the migrants attempted to reach them because they did have a contact number. They said that the person told them they’ll be right there to get you, never specifying who was coming to get them. They continued to try to reach this person [but] their cellphone no longer was working.”

The allegation of deceit mirrors that of the Martha’s Vineyard episode, in which a former US army medic, Perla Huerta, was allegedly hired to lure migrants onto planes in Texas chartered by the DeSantis administration to protest Joe Biden’s immigration policies.

According to several of the migrants, Huerta showed up at a McDonald’s in San Antonio, offering gift cards and promising shelter and jobs in Boston, before the group was dumped without notice in the affluent community.

Lawyers for the migrants subsequently filed a lawsuit.

Rightwinger DeSantis, the leading challenger to Trump for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, has ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent months, and earlier this year persuaded the Florida legislature to approve an expansion to his “unauthorized alien transport program” to Democrat-led cities and states.

DeSantis’s media team did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

Newsom’s tweet on Monday is not the first time the Democratic governor has attacked DeSantis. Last July, while running for re-election, Newsom aired television ads in Florida urging residents to stand up to DeSantis’s attacks on freedom or consider moving to California.

Their feud reignited in April when Newson decried efforts to reshape Florida’s higher education system into a more conservative model, accusing DeSantis during a visit to his state of “weakness masquerading as strength across the board”.

Erin McCormick and agencies contributed to this report

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Thursday, June 08, 2023

Trump Indicted In Documents Case


(1) Trump Indicted in Classified Documents Case: Live Updates - The New York Times

Justice Department Charges Trump in Documents Case

"The indictment, filed Thursday in Federal District Court in Miami, is the first time in U.S. history a former president has faced federal charges.

Former President Donald J. Trump is seen between two airplane seats wearing a suit and red tie.
The indictment followed criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump in a hush-money case brought by local prosecutors in New York.Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Justice Department took the legally and politically momentous step of lodging federal criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump, multiple people familiar with the matter said on Thursday, following a lengthy investigation of his handling of classified documents that he took with him upon leaving office and then obstructing the government’s efforts to reclaim them.

The indictment, filed in Federal District Court in Miami, is the first time in American history a former president has faced federal charges. It puts the nation in an extraordinary position, given Mr. Trump’s status not only as a onetime chief executive but also as the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to face President Biden, whose administration will now be seeking to convict his potential rival.

It was not immediately known what specific charges Mr. Trump is facing. One person briefed on the matter said there were seven counts.

Mr. Trump is expected to surrender himself to authorities in Miami on Tuesday, according to a person close to him and his own post on Truth Social.

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The indictment, filed by the office of the special counsel Jack Smith, came about two months after local prosecutors in New York filed more than 30 felony charges against Mr. Trump in a case connected to a hush money payment to a porn star in advance of the 2016 election.

Mr. Smith is also investigating Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging efforts to retain power after his election loss in 2020, and how those efforts led to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Public filings  in the documents case have painted a picture of Mr. Trump repeatedly stonewalling efforts by both the National Archives and Records Administration and the Justice Department to retrieve the trove of hundreds of sensitive government records that the former president took with him from the White House and kept mostly at his private club and residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.

While the nature of a few of the documents found in Mr. Trump’s possession is known — he had held onto letters from the North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un, for example — it remains unclear what other classified materials were found at Mar-a-Lago and what national security damage his possession of them caused, if any.


Mr. Trump has repeatedly characterized the investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, and in recent weeks his lawyers have sought to raise what they say are issues of prosecutorial misconduct.

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Here’s what to know:

  • The indictment reaches back to the end of Mr. Trump’s term in January 2021, when the documents — many of which were said to be in the White House residence — were packed in boxes along with clothes, gifts, photos and other material, and shipped by the General Services Administration to Mar–a-Lago.

  • After lengthy efforts by the National Archives throughout much of 2021 to get Mr. Trump to turn over the material he had taken with him — considered government property under the Presidential Records Act — Mr. Trump turned over 15 boxes of material in January 2022. The boxes turned out to contain highly sensitive material with classified markings, prompting a Justice Department investigation.

  • Last August, federal agents descended on Mar-a-Lago to conduct an extraordinary search that turned up material that Mr. Trump had failed to turn over in response to a subpoena months earlier demanding the return of any classified documents still in his possession.

  • The Justice Department has repeatedly questioned Mr. Trump’s level of cooperation with the efforts to recover the documents, saying that it had recovered more than 100 documents containing classified markings even after an attestation by one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers that a “diligent search” by his legal team had not turned up any further materials.

  • Mr. Trump still faces other ongoing criminal investigations. They include Mr. Smith’s inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to hold onto power following his election loss — and how they led to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol — and an investigation by a prosecutor in Georgia into his attempts to reverse his 2020 election loss in that vital swing state. Mr. Trump is scheduled to go on trial in the Manhattan criminal case next March.

Alan Feuer covers extremism and political violence. He joined The Times in 1999. @alanfeuer

Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. @maggieNYT

William K. Rashbaum is a senior writer on the Metro desk, where he covers political and municipal corruption, courts, terrorism and law enforcement. He was a part of the team awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. @WRashbaum Facebook"

 Trump Indicted in Classified Documents Case: Live Updates - The New York Times