On the eve of Donald Trump’s last day in office as President, Trump sent a memo to his attorney general, and also the directors of National Intelligence and the CIA, directing them to declassify thousands of pages of highly classified government papers pertaining to the FBI’s investigation into the Russian Federation’s covert intervention into the 2016 US presidential election to help elect Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton.
But Trump was stymied in his efforts to make the records public, leading the outgoing president to rage to aides that the documents would never see the light of day.
Now, sources close to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation tell me that prosecutors have questioned at least three people about whether Trump’s frustrations may have been a motive in Trump taking thousands of pages of classified papers from the White House to Mar-A-Largo, in potential violation of federal law. One of those people was compelled to testify before a federal grand jury, the sources say.
The sources say that prosecutors appear to believe the episode may be central to determining Trump’s intent for his unauthorized removal from the White House of the papers. Insight into the president’s frame of mind—his intent and motivation, are likely to be the foundational building blocks of any case that the special counsel considers seeking against Trump.
Towards that end, the Special Counsel has zeroed in on conversations and communications between the Justice Department, the White House counsel, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, other then-senior White House aides, and Trump, in the final days—and even the final hours of his presidency. [Continue reading…]