The Republican spin machine seems to have encountered a jam.
Following the release late Tuesday night of a 54-page document outlining the Justice Department’s findings in the Aug. 8 raid on Donald Trump’s Palm Beach residence, the former president and his supporters are struggling to make their stories make sense.
The court filing was a response to Trump’s attempt to claim that the more than 100 classified documents seized during the raid were subject to executive privilege, and thus could not be reviewed by the DOJ. The filing included a photo attachment depicting some of the material found during the search, including a litany of documents with “secret” or “top secret” classification markings on their cover pages.
Trump himself has seized on a ludicrous analysis, pushed by Fox contributor Byron York and legal analyst Jonathan Turley, that the FBI has somehow misled the public into believing that documents photographed at Mar-A-Lago were found scattered all over the floor, instead of placed there for an evidentiary photo.
Truth Social is a great platform for ex-presidents to admit to crimes in a very public way. pic.twitter.com/Od9bpOO6J5— Jason Selvig (@jasonselvig) August 31, 2022
In an absurd display of the lengths the former president’s defenders are willing to go to follow his lead and muddy the waters around the investigation, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem argued on Fox News that the documents may have been planted in Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, and that the contents of the highly classified documents should be made public.
It may be news to the former president but the documents have not been declassified, at least not according to the agencies to which they pertain and investigators examining them, and they have not been released to the public. This has not stopped Noem and other prominent Trump supporters from twisting themselves into pretzels to dismiss the former president’s dubious retention and handling of highly classified materials after leaving the presidency.
Trump’s daughter-in law and Fox News contributor Lara Trump appeared on her father-in-laws go-to network in what could only be described as an attempt to reassure the Trump patriarch that he was the real victim here.
Fox News host Dan Bongino argued that the FBI lacked credibility to the point that viewers should doubt if the items depicted in the filing were even really classified. “I’m not telling you those documents aren’t classified because I’m not a leftist media loser who jumps to conclusions,” Bongino said of the documents clearly marked as classified. “I’m simply telling you jumping to the conclusion and assuming the FBI’s story that it is classified is equally dumb.”
The claim that the FBI had planted or manipulated the documents in Trump’s home, despite Trump admitting that they were there and openly discussing his communications with investigators regarding the documents, already has a foothold amongst right wing commentators.
Others, including the House Judiciary GOP Twitter account, fixated on the fact that a box in the image contained a partial view of a Time magazine cover as evidence of a nefarious plot.
“Notice the FBI even staged the Time Mag cover here – they made sure of it,” added right-wing commentator Jack Posobiec. “You are watching a movie.”
Some are going even further, arguing that the fact that the FBI photographed the documents is evidence in itself that their contents are not actually that secret or sensitive. It should be noted here that the cover sheets of documents are not classified material, and are placed on the documents to help prevent unauthorized individuals (including FBI agents) from viewing their contents.
“Trump’s presidential records were so sensitive and in need of protection that FBI agents seized them from storage, dumped them all over the floor, and took pictures of them so BlueAnons could post pics of them on Twitter,” added Sean Davis of The Federalist. “Merrick Garland is as incompetent as he is corrupt.”
Others, despite having degrees from Harvard Law School, are happy to call a public court filing a “leak” in the interest of making things seem more sinister.
Trump’s legal council must submit their response to the DOJ’s filing by 8 p.m. Wednesday. The DOJ is expected to present its arguments against the appointment of a “special master” on Thursday in a hearing before Judge Aileen Cannon. Trump’s army of talking heads can be expected to present a new batch of absurd talking points shortly thereafter.