The $64,000 Question: What was Donald Trump hiding in his safe?
It’s becoming clear the Department of Justice believes former president Donald Trump had top secret national security documents in a safe in his Florida golf club.
So many questions here flow out from that assumption.
First, how top secret were these documents?
And then, why would he take them with him when he left the White House last year, and why wouldn’t he have given them back when the DOJ reached out to him in January, then again in March, and again in June?
Let’s start with, it’s easy to presume ill intent when it comes to Trump, who was impeached not once, but twice, over improprieties in office – one involving him strong-arming Ukraine’s president, Vladimir Zelensky, to pretend to launch an investigation into Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, so that he could have something to use against the senior Biden in the 2020 election; the second over his effort, after losing to Biden in that election, to stage a coup to keep himself in power.
But to be fair to a guy who doesn’t deserve to be treated fair, it’s possible that there isn’t much to the top secret documents.
Which, OK, sure, he led countless rallies in chants to “lock her up” over much, much less with respect to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, then signed a law in 2018 making unauthorized possession of classified documents a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a law obviously aimed at Clinton and whoever else he could get his DOJ to make a federal case out of.
But, again, being fair, while he might technically be exposed here legally just by being in possession of top secret documents without authorization, if the information in those documents isn’t really all that top secret, it’s not all that big a deal, except to the archivists.
OK, with that out of the way, now, to what really seems to be going on here.
If what he had in the safe wasn’t that big a deal, why did he resist giving it back when requested back in January, then again in the spring, and again in June?
If whatever it is wasn’t all that important, he just gives it back, right?
It would seem to stand to reason that his thinking must have been along the lines of, I’m keeping it, and if they want it, they’ll have to come and get it, and they’ll never do that, because if they do, they know I’ll throw it in their faces.
Basically, in this scenario, he was daring the DOJ to come get whatever he knew that they knew he had, out of certainty that they would blink.
That Merrick Garland didn’t blink says a lot about what he knows and what Trump knows was in that safe.
It wasn’t just run-of-the-mill top secret stuff.
It had to be something either damaging, or worth something, to Trump.
But what, exactly?
“National security” would seem to imply something involving U.S. relations with a foreign country or countries.
In terms of information that would be damaging to Trump, there’s so much we could speculate on – Russia/Ukraine, NATO, Iran, Israel, Germany, Africa, North Korea, South Korea – that it would be hard to pin down.
So much of what Trump did in the foreign-policy sphere seemed to be focused on intentionally undermining decades of bipartisan effort to maintain some semblance of stability in the international order that it could be any combination of the above.
What about, though, the idea that the information would be something that Trump would consider to be of value to him?
And I’m not referring to mementoes. The term “something of value” here implies information that Trump could leverage for financial gain.
I don’t want to assume that this is what is being investigated here, because that would mean that we’d have a former president literally conspiring to trade sensitive information to sell out his country for a quick buck.
Which means, I’m rooting for this to be that he’s hiding information that would make him look bad, which is still a crime, not even accounting for the matter of, what would it be that he doesn’t want us to know because it would make him look bad?
The next few days, weeks, months, sure will be interesting.