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Mark Meadows claimed boxes held at Mar-a-Lago contained only ‘news clippings’

With every new revelation out of the Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago scandal, his theft of highly classified documents becomes even more blatant. And the idea that anyone—from a judge to Republicans in Congress—is still engaged in the pretense that what Trump did was no big deal, becomes ever more ridiculous.

On Friday evening, The Washington Post reported a new aspect to the Doc-a-Lago affair. As with most such information, it showed once again that not only did Trump commit multiple crimes in taking and holding these documents, obstruction was apparent at every possible step. It wasn’t simply that he dragged his feet in response to requests, demands, and subpoenas from the National Archives and Department of Justice. Trump and his staff did what Trump always does, they lied.

In this case, the latest revelation is that Trump tried to push the National Archives off by claiming he didn’t even have any documents covered under the Presidential Records Act, much less compartmentalized information on the nuclear defense capabilities of a foreign power. Instead of hundreds of classified documents, and over 11,000 pages of documents that definitely are covered by the PRA, Trump told the National Archives that he had just 12 boxes of “news clippings.” 

Making this even more egregious: This statement reportedly came directly from former chief of staff Mark Meadows.

According to the Post, National Archives attorney Gary Stern spoke with former deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin. Philbin told Stern that he had spoken to Meadows about concerns Trump had left the White House with presidential records. But according to Meadows, Trump didn’t have anything. Just that dozen boxes of clippings. 

According to Meadows and Philbin, “Trump’s team was aware of no other materials.”

This is an enormous lie. First, there was the simply quantity of the documents Trump ferried away. The National Archives got 15 boxes back in January. The FBI took more documents in July. And FBI agents took 12 boxes in the search at Mar-a-Lago. On top of that, we know they didn’t take everything. Donald Trump and Mark Meadows may not be excessively clever, but there should be an assumption they can tell the difference between twelve and more than thirty.

Then comes the actual nature of the documents. Even if Judge Aileen Cannon chooses not to believe the FBI, the National Archives have already stated that they found more than 150 classified documents just in the materials that were handed to them in January. That was before another stack of classified documents was handed over in July. And before the FBI carried out it’s search in August. In all, there were over 300 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. 

And, thanks to that one photo provided in a DOJ filing, we not only know that Trump has atrocious taste in carpet, but that these documents were clearly marked as containing some of the most sensitive information in existence.

It’s hard to mistake these for news clippings.

The blatantly obvious nature of the documents that Trump stole—and the fact that he kept many of the classified documents not among the boxes in storage, but in his office—shows that he absolutely knew what he had. Trump knew what he was taking. He also knew how critical it was to national security. He just didn’t care. Because he knew what it was worth.

A spokesperson for Meadows has responded to the Post story with a statement that Meadows, “did not personally review the boxes at Mar A Lago and did not have a role in examining or verifying what was or wasn’t contained within them.” It’s too bad that’s not what he told Philbin.

If Meadows didn’t personally review the boxes, but he told Philbin they contained only ‘news clippings,’ then where did he get that information? Meadows deserves a chance to explain. Under oath.

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