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Oh, What a Tangled Web They Try to Weave

There is so much that one could write about with regard to the FBI search of Trump’s premises, and its implications. However, I cannot help wanting to focus on the “declassification” issue. Because it is so interesting and intuitively understandable, and because it is so reflective of the kind of twisted logic that Trump and his Republican enablers use on every occasion, in an effort to bluff, confuse, and enervate people.

So the FBI came in with a warrant, they gave the Secret Service at Mar-a-Lago an hour’s notice. Trump’s first reaction, which his backers jumped behind, was that it was an assault on him, it was a crime! Then he figured out that they were taking boxes of materials which he had taken from the White House. So then he and they started saying that they were planted by the FBI!

Then they realized that they could not effectively rely on that contention, after Garland called their bluff, and said he would release the search warrant; and then after the contents of some of these boxes were revealed. So then they went to another argument, that Trump had declassified the formerly classified documents! Um, how did he do that? Oh, he did it, he had that right! But did he go through the process necessary to declassify? Did he inform others? Do the documents show that? Well, he had a standing order that everything he took home from the White House was automatically declassified!

Oh? So let’s think of the implications of that. Everything he took home automatically became declassified. When he ostensibly brought it back “after working on it over the weekend,” it became classified again? Until he brought it home again? Who could keep track of this? How would anyone in any government agency be able to keep track? What if our agents suddenly started being killed, who would know why?

Then he takes fifteen or so boxes to his home after he has to leave the White House, and so they were automatically declassified, and stayed declassified? Did the new president Biden know about any of this? Did any of our intelligence agencies? How would he know, so as to reclassify them? Obviously, according to the logic of the Trumpers, Biden had the same right to classify or declassify documents with a wave of his hand. So were they ever reclassified? Well, probably not, because Biden was never aware of any of this. You don’t think that Trump told him that, “I’ve got some documents I took, and which I am keeping, and they were all declassified by me, by standing order.”

Did anyone else in the government know that Trump had taken the documents, and had somehow automatically declassified them? Anyone in CIA, or FBI, or State Department? No, the Republicans’ argument is that Trump had the power to do whatever he wanted to do: take documents. keep them. Why would he do that? Oh, ours not to reason why; the supreme ruler Trump has decreed it. That is really what they are saying, which should terrify everybody. They do not look at this country as a democracy, or a republic, the term they pretend to prefer, they look at it as a monarchy, or a state religion.

Going on, do they agree that Biden has the right to reclassify everything, once he finds out what it is? Do the intelligence agencies in the field, and in the offices, get to know? What if Trump declassifies them again? Oh, he can’t now, because he is no longer President? Did he have the right to do what he pleased with any of these materials he had at home, because Biden never reclassified them?

Who owns the documents? What would his cadre say? Trump is entitled to them? Well, no, they probably would not say that. So then why was he keeping them? They were not his. If they were , why are they not clamoring to get them back? And if they are now declassified via Trump’s invisible order, does Biden have the right to reclassify them? If he does, when did he obtain that right? Right after he took the oath of office? But how could he, if Trump never told him what they were, nor ever gave them back, even after requested by Biden’s DOJ?

Obviously, none of this makes any coherent sense. Trump and his spineless hyperpartisans just make up whatever they can, and hope that it confuses people, or that the media will both-sides it, and somehow act like it is rational. I keep hearing people saying that a possible defense for Trump is that he declassified all the documents, or he didn’t understand what were the procedures to declassify. This is their attempt to change the subject, to avoid the questions of, why did he take the documents, why did he keep them; did he inform anyone about which ones he declassified? It would be an absolutely pathetic effort, if they had not been able to get away with this obfuscation and lying for so many years.

Debating about Classified, Top Secret, SCI is in some way an obscuring of the obvious, even though of course the security levels are very important, and some of the documents were not subject to being declassified, which is crucial. Even so, Trump did not have the right to any of these documents, except maybe a few photos or menus. Yet he took them, kept them, and lied about giving them all back. And assuming he had his reasons for doing that, what were they, and did he do what he wanted with them?

Blackmail people? Hand information to enemy nations? Compromise assets? Destroy the entire Intelligence apparatus? Sell them? Has he already done most of that since he has had the documents, some apparently in a safe? Have spies from other countries located and copied them? Russia State TV is saying that he gave them information about weapons systems. They are just lying? His friends, the ones he let walk around with him, and showed things to; the ones he would talk to privately, and allow no interpreter’s notes from any summit meeting, he never told them anything? Gave them classified documents that he magically declassified?

While of course we are focusing on the truly unsettling nature of these events and implications, it is impossible not to grasp the absolute contempt for intelligence, the willingness to fervently lie and dissemble, which is the entire nature of the Republican Party. Whatever happens, they immediately react with anything they can think of to defend Trump and themselves. The more worrisome the event is for them, the more infuriated is their response.

And then they just keep coming up with new ways to try to “explain,” and they are confident that their media mouthpieces will run with it. Just like all that totalitarian state propaganda that we would hear about on the radio in past decades, and think how sad it was for their citizens who never got to hear the truth about anything.

Eight-year old kids are better at making up things to try not to get in trouble. I didn’t put that there! Somebody else did! Oh, I thought you told me to put it there! Here, it is, How dare the FBI take Trump’s documents! They planted documents! The ones that they took which they noted as classified, were actually declassified by Trump! Obama! Hillary! Hunter Biden! The Left! If the FBI wanted the documents so much, why did they wait eighteen months to get them! Leave Trump alone! Gas prices! Antifa! IRS! Outrage! If they could take those documents from Trump, what will they do to yours!

There is an episode of the wonderful “Inspector Morse” television series, called “Last Seen Wearing.” I remember the elegant and nice wife of the Dean of the posh young women’s school, played by Fiona Mollison. As we learn near the end ,that he was having affairs, that he relied on his charm and verbal adroitness to wiggle out of things, he keeps changing his story in front of Morse, and his wife. Finally, in frustration, disappointment, and anger, she shouts at him, “Can you please stop lying! Just stop lying!” To which he finally replies, “Okay,” and proceeds to admit things.

We could shout that at Republicans, but they would not stop, because it is both their nature to lie, and because it is their modus vivendi, they cannot function without lying. All they want is to somehow get enough people to vote for them, that they can take power, and then they have control of all information, and can say anything they want. That was Trump’s goal, and he almost got away with it.

We need to hear virtually every detail of what he has been doing with these documents, while in office, and out of it. We don’t need to “get past it,” or “let the country heal,” we need to hear the truth, as much of it as American national security can allow. Letting this become, “oh, well, just one of those things,” would be a terrible mistake.

And how much better off we would be if Hillary had gotten elected, not Trump, in 2016? Of course, he may well not have been validly elected; Russia would have done almost anything to get him in office, and all that yelling by Trump about how the Democrats could only win by stealing the election, could have been more of his endless projection. His people are still saying that everything is a witch hunt, that he never colluded with Russia. And yet Russia says that Trump gave them information which would amount to high treason by him, if that indeed was the case. What have you done, American voters, media mouthpieces, both-sidesers, Hilary haters, “political horse race” devotees? And very few if any of you will admit to any of it. At long last, it is time for you to do much better, no matter how much it might affect your short-term bottom line, or your Washington cocktail party fun.