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Could Donald Trump Really Be This Stupid?

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

What is Donald Trump doing now? Donald Trump’s attorneys in the classified documents case gave a doozy of an excuse for the president’s alleged misconduct with the secret papers back in February.

On February 10, Trump’s lawyers handed over one empty folder to the Department of Justice that had “Classified Evening Summary” written on it.

The explanation for this submission is that Donald Trump used the folder to cover the light on a telephone landline in his bedroom that kept him up at night.

Yes, you read that correctly. 

Did Donald Trump Really Do That? 

This explanation is doubtful and even comical. It shows that Trump may not be taking the situation seriously.

Even one of Trump’s attorneys, Timothy Parlatore, said this discovery was “one of the more humorous aspects of this whole thing” and that “there is nothing illegal about it.”

The Documents Are “Cool” to Keep  

Trump called similar materials in the past a “cool keepsake” and said that their presence around Mar-a-Lago was inadvertent with no criminal intention. 

Laptop Is Given to Investigators

Another submission was noteworthy. The Associated Press reported months back that the Trump legal team also handed over a laptop that was owned by a presidential staffer. It is not clear what types of material are stored on this computer.

The Guardian said that the aide for one of Trump’s political action committees may have scanned in the hard copies of classified documents to make them electronic PDF copies.

These files are believed to be presidential schedules that might have been itineraries for trips to sensitive areas of the world such as Afghanistan.

The Folder Is Not Really Classified

Trump’s lawyers had also stated that the “Classified Evening Summary” folder was not stamped “Secret” or “Top Secret” and was without the formal classified designation. The folders were inadvertently mixed in with unclassified material, they said. Both sides of the legal issue are becoming more contentious as investigators believe Trump is stonewalling on the documents and his legal team thinks they are being cooperative.

This Has Lasted Almost Two Years

The saga has been going on since May 2021 when the National Archives and Records Administration first requested that Trump turn in missing classified documents. Twelve months later Trump was issued a subpoena. Then in June, the Trump camp said it was not in possession of any secret papers.

On August 8, using a search warrant from the Attorney General Merrick Garland, the FBI searched Trump’s residence Mar-a-Lago. Investigators found 103 classified documents during that search.

In December, a separate company hired by Trump to conduct a search looked into a storage center in West Palm Beach. This firm found at least two documents that they handed over to the FBI.

What Is Really Going On Here? 

It is difficult to decipher this classified document scandal. Does Trump have any more secret material? His main attorney finds the situation humorous. They may have used a computer to scan documents. Why would a staffer do that? Especially if they were schedules?

The only thing I can think of is that Trump’s staff wants to help the former president write his memoirs in the future and having some classified material would help Trump remember what he did from day to day. 

It’s Not a Way to Endear Himself to the DOJ

The special counsel and the Department of Justice are likely becoming increasingly frustrated with Trump. This whole saga is dragging on. One of the folders was used as a lampshade? This is hard to believe and it shows that Trump’s attorneys are likely toying with investigators.

This will only make things more adversarial. On the other hand, President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence have allowed the FBI to search their homes.

Perhaps the entire Trump legal strategy is to lengthen the process and disclose documents slowly, so the matter stays out of the public eye.

But you are going to see dogged reporting on this scandal as journalists, especially those on the left, smell a weakness that could result in criminal charges being brought against Trump.

They won’t buy excuses that classified folders were used to cover lights on phones.

BONUS: The Fall of Joe Biden Has Started  

BONUS: Donald Trump Looks At His End 

Author Expertise and Experience

Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations. 

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.