ABC News is reporting that among the classified documents found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and resort after FBI agents searched the premises on Aug. 8, 2022, was a set of classified “notecards” found and reported by one of Trump’s personal assistants.
The details, however, are so bizarre as to be inexplicable.
As described to ABC News, the aide, Molly Michael, told investigators that — more than once — she received requests or taskings from Trump that were written on the back of notecards, and she later recognized those notecards as sensitive White House materials — with visible classification markings — used to brief Trump while he was still in office about phone calls with foreign leaders or other international-related matters.
Got that? So this was apparently a set of notecards with “classified” markings that were created to prepare Trump for important calls with international leaders. And somehow these classified notecards were, once Trump left office, being used by him as scratch paper and being handed off to his assistant.
The next day, after the FBI search, Michael returned to work at Mar-a-Lago and found her desk in a bit of a mess, with drawers turned over, sources said. Buried underneath a drawer organizer were the to-do lists Trump had written for her on the backs of briefing notes with classification markings, Michael later recalled to investigators, according to sources.
When Michael discovered that the FBI hadn’t taken those documents in their search of Mar-a-Lago, she helped make sure they were given to the FBI that same day, the sources told ABC News.
ABC’s story also reveals that Michaels was one of the aides who Trump allegedly encouraged to lie about the presence of the boxes containing classified documents, but the pending courtroom trial will get to that evidence in due time. It’s the detail of Trump using classified “notecards” as an impromptu scratchpad that manages to be baffling, even in the midst of an unending stream of baffling Trump behaviors.
The implication here is that Trump was getting classified information printed out on notecards to act as cheat sheets during his phone calls—no doubt a standard White House practice. But these classified cards then were somehow not collected after the phone calls, and instead kept by Trump.
Not just kept, but apparently collected. So that by the time he left office, he had a neat little bundle of them that he then brought to Mar-a-Lago.
And not as “keepsakes” or “mementos,” as he has previously insisted, but as scratch paper so he wouldn’t have to buy a $1 pack of notecards from Staples?
He then used them as spare scraps to write notes to his assistant, presumably things like, “buy more cheese” or, “shoes too slippery, buy me a new pair.” And he did this with such regularity that his assistant collected enough classified notecards to keep in a stack, “underneath a drawer organizer.”
And she allegedly did this without realizing they were classified documents (despite having classified markings), and somehow only realized they were classified documents the day after the FBI searched her office and didn’t find them?
How the hell does this sequence of events even work? Someone explain it to me like I’m 5 years old: How is it that Trump was able, just logistically, to hoard a whole set of classified cards about, apparently, different classified phone calls, such that he had enough to “repeatedly” hand them out to others? Where was he keeping them, that he had a pile of these things at his desk ready to be doled out? How is it that this guy was collecting classified notecards not because he wanted to keep them as memories of his administration, but because he didn’t want to have to buy new notecards?
How many people have notecards from this classified stack? Were they just for one assistant, or for general doodling and scratch work?
How does any of this make sense? Are we missing something? Is there some clarification that will make even half of this make sense? ABC News is reporting that Donald Trump was quite literally using classified national security documents as scratch paper, and this is just something we’re all supposed to nod our heads at and say, Ah, classic Trump!
What. The. F-ck?