- @brianmuddradio Curious choice of words "criminal confederates"
- @brianmuddradio Surprised to get as much disclosure as we received?
- @brianmuddradio What’s your assessment now?
Bottom Line: Those were among the many responses to some of my initial takes to Friday’s redacted affidavit release. As I began to wade into this on social media over the weekend and ended up delving into it with a great deal of detail in today’s takeaways – there’s a lot we’ve learned and a lot that I can explain. But first I’ll answer those three questions. Criminal confederates are more common than you think. I am somewhat surprised by the DOJ’s level of disclosure (that it wasn’t even more restrictive), and my assessment is that this may well have been as much, or even more about other actors as it was with Donald Trump. Saturday’s development regarding a hearing on Thursday for the potential appointment of a Special Master is also a significant development. There are lots of moving parts, pieces and unknowns to this story and speculation is running rampant. As always there are two sides to stories and one side to facts, so let’s stick with the facts. Here’s what we know based on the affidavit release along with additional insight I’m able to provide:
- Trump via alleged obstruction is the focus (which is a legal term) of the investigation however...
- Trump is far from the only actor involved and the feds are attempting to discern who the other actors, or “criminal confederates” happen to be
- The scope of the request was far broader than very specific requests typically required for issuance of federal search warrants
- There’s no clear indication as to if criminal charges will be brought against Trump (as is typical in over 90% of federal searches) or if the intent was to recover materials and identify those who might have improperly packaged, provided and handled them (perhaps pursing those actors as well or instead)
As I pointed out in my takeaways today, page 30 is the key for me based on what was disclosed. It’s the page which offers a potential explanation as to why this investigation which as we all know, had been ongoing, suddenly escalated. The key line for me. The FBI has not yet identified all potential criminal confederates nor located all evidence related to its investigation. What’s important to note in this regard is this. President Trump never prepared any of the boxes of docs himself. He also didn’t move them himself. Let’s say material was packaged and given to Trump that never should have been (which is obviously the case), it could well be reasoned that the actor(s) involved may have also not kept an accurate accounting of what went out the door with the former president and perhaps the feds recently figured some things out. That’s a problem for obvious reasons. Especially if certain actors are still actively handling sensitive material for the federal government. It’s possible that as previously recovered documents were sorted through, the scope of the actors involved created a sense of urgency. And that’s why the biggest takeaway from Friday’s affidavit release for me wasn’t about Trump specifically, it’s about the feds attempting to track down those involved in curating and moving the docs.
To be clear, I view this entire situation through the premise of a DOJ and FBI which colluded with the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign to create the entire Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy, in addition to spying on him while a candidate and eventual president. A criminal conspiracy of the DOJ and FBI’s own doing which is still under federal investigation by John Durham and internally. That said, if we’re looking for non-conspiratorial reasons for the sudden escalation of the investigation resulting in the raid – having rouge actors with access to Top Secret materials which are still active in the federal government - would be one of those reasons. The feds made clear they’re looking for criminal confederates – we just don’t know yet (and perhaps never will), who they happen to be.
And so, my current assessment is this. The sudden sense of urgency seems to point in the direction of attempting to identify people not named Donald Trump. Historically federal search warrants have led to charges being brought against the focus, which is Trump via obstruction as per the affidavit, over 90% of the time. If charges were to be brought the case would be tried in D.C. where only 5% of the residents supported him for president. Thursday’s hearing over the potential appointment of a Special Master to provide oversight of this investigation could be significant. There is a political vs. legal calculus being made by both sides right now. I’d liken it to a high-stakes version of chicken. If Trump is to run for president, and at this point who thinks he isn’t, timing factors in here. We all know the wheels of “justice” move slowly. And if a special master is appointed, they will move even more slowly. We are about two years and two months away from the next presidential election.
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