Friday, September 23, 2022

Literary Corner: Make a Federal Case of It


Matthew Broderick as Professor Harold Hill tries out The Think System.

NY vs. Trump and his spawn and their businesses seems to me to have pretty much everything I could have wanted: over 200 specific acts of fraud committed in the valuations of Trump properties for his annual financial statements between 2011 and 2021 (yes, including during the presidency), generally in order to get better credit terms, some of them just spectacularly off, the demand for $250 million in damages, plus wiping all their New York businesses—should the state win its case, Trumps will be forbidden to operate a business in the state for the next five years—and federal criminal referrals in New York's Southern District and the Internal Revenue Service.

That last especially cheers me, because the publicity over the past year or so has been so dominated by Trump's overvaluing his properties to get loans, and hardly anybody has been talking about how he undervalues them in order to cheat on his taxes. But it turns out AG Letitia James wasn't ignoring it at all; in fact she was making a federal case of it, which is what it's supposed to be. Whether IRS is going to prosecute them or not (he's been fighting them for something like the past 12 years to stop them from collecting a $70-million refund he didn't deserve) I don't know, but the case needs to be out there.

Meanwhile, in another federal case, I'm intrigued by the lyricism and haunting ambiguity of Trump's answer to a a TV question from Sean Hannity ("What was your process to declassify?"):

There Doesn't Have to Be a Process

by Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America

There doesn't have to be a process,
as I understand it. You know, there's --
different people say different things,
but as I understand there doesn't have to be.

If you're the president of the United States,
you can declassify just by saying,
it's declassified. Even by thinking about it,
because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago
or to wherever you're sending it

And there doesn't have to be a process.
There can be a process, but there doesn't
have to be. You're the president,
you make that decision. So when you send it,
it's declassified. We -- I declassified everything.

Now, I declassified things, and we were having a lot
of problems with NARA. You know, NARA
is a radical left group of people running
that thing, and when you send documents over there,
I would say there's a very good chance that a lot
of those documents will never be seen again.

There's also a lot of speculation because of what
they did, the severity of the FBI coming and raiding
Mar-a-Lago. Were they looking for the Hillary Clinton
emails that were deleted, but they are around someplace?

A lot of people said the only thing that would give
the kind of severity that they showed by
actually coming in and raiding with many, many
people, is the Hillary Clinton deal, the Russia,
Russia, Russia stuff or -- I mean, there are a
number of things. They're spying on Trump's
campaign, so they spied on my campaign.
There's also a lot of speculation—a lot of people are saying that this is a sign of rapid decompensation as the law closes in on him from four or five different sides, and his mind is collapsing. In fact practically everybody is saying it, based in the first place on that idea that you can declassify a document through mental powers, like Uri Geller bending a spoon—well, exactly, Uri Geller can't bend spoons, he can make people believe he's bending spoons, and that's what the retired emperor is trying to do by bending the conversation. He's not even trying to convince us that he could declassify documents by telepathy as much as he's trying to confuse us so much as to what classification and declassification are that we won't resist the big thing he's preparing to drop on us. 

And it's not unskilled, in spite of his complete ignorance of how anything  in the word actually happens and his linguistic difficulties; it doesn't have commonplace coherence, but it has a coherence of intent.

"as I understand it"

See, he doesn't even claim to know how he declassifies documents. He's pretty sure he did declassify them—"everything"—but he's only got a theory about what happened, which "different people" might well disagree with, with the concomitant implication that they wouldn't disagree on the main issue, that they really are declassified one way or another. Maybe they just declassified themselves spontaneously when they got on the truck.

"to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you send it"

And wherever would that be? Peter Strzok wondered.

It wouldn't really matter, I guess, since for Trump there isn't any actual reason for classifying or declassifying anything. That is, the conventional reason, that some information needs to be kept secret in the name of national security, doesn't apply; he never tries to argue, as you or I might do, that declassifying something won't be harmful, or that the authorities constantly overclassify stuff. He hardly explains at all why he feels like declassifying things, though security minion-in-chief Kash Patel has suggested that it's a matter of material classified for evil reasons because publishing it might make Trump "look good" as in this May 2022 appearance on the Buck and Clay show:

Part of that transparency comes in the form of, you know, providing the American public with information that should never have been classified or kept from them in the first place. And what he did was on his way out of the White House, he declassified — made available to every American citizen in the world — large volumes of information relating, not just to Russiagate, but to national security matters, to the Ukraine impeachment, to his impeachment one, impeachment two.

All things that deep-staters, as you know, Buck, in government go in there and get their hands on and classify ’cause they don’t want the truth to get out ’cause it’s gonna make Trump look good ’cause he always supported the truth and the facts. And that’s what we have here is a whole slew of documents and information that President Trump wanted to put out.

Which makes me imagine Trump's strenuously serious advisors warning him at some point that publishing some material would endanger national security and Trump replying, "It's not going to harm me!" 

Anyway that "whole slew" sounds as if it must include the documents in a "binder of materials" relating to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of Russian active measures in the 2016 presidential campaign that Trump claimed to have declassified  as he was almost literally on his way out of the White House, on January 19, 2021—

binder of materials related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Portions of the documents in the binder have remained classified and have not been released to the Congress or the public. I requested the documents so that a declassification review could be performed and so I could determine to what extent materials in the binder should be released in unclassified form.... 

I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder. This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy. 

—as well as who knows what other stuff that he did not claim he had declassified.

You know, NARA is a radical left group of people running that thing

The National Archives and Records Administration. Have I told you what Republicans hate and fear most is a librarian? With good reason, because they stand for transparency and making information available and accessible wherever they can. Though that's not how Trump affects to see it:

a lot of those documents will never be seen again

The Deep State came and took them away to prevent him from publishing them, as he has been planning to do ever since he stole them and sent them home to Florida 21 months ago, I guess as soon as he found out what they were, since he doesn't seem to have a very clear idea.

Were they looking for the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted, but they are around someplace?

Those emails he asked Russia ("if you're listening") to find for him could have been right there in his basement! How would he know? But the radical left archivists would have known and sent the violent FBI to spirit them away. 

the only thing that would give the kind of severity that they showed

Or maybe, you know, it wasn't that—

the Hillary Clinton deal, the Russia, Russia, Russia stuff or -- I mean, there are a number of things

—that is, the only thing that could have driven the FBI to such "severity" could be practically anything, but it was definitely a matter of spying on him, discovering his most closely held secrets that he's been planning to publish for the last two years, ever since he declassified them in what may or may not have been a process, There doesn't have to be a process, although there could be.

Or putting it a different way, I think this is the big confession, which happens to coincide fairly precisely with the scenario I've been arguing for, that these are the documents stolen for him by Patel and the other minions, in the first place in that crazy hope of exculpating him from the Russia, Russia, Russia charges by inculpating the FBI chiefs, and in the second place, when that turned out to be a really poor idea, to exculpate himself by hiding them from prying FBI eyes. 

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