We are all old enough to remember when, on August 10, Donald Trump suggested that the FBI may have “planted” the sensitive documents agents discovered when executing a legal search warrant of Mar-a-Lago. We can also remember when, on September 8, after trying other flawed arguments such as how he magically declassified everything, Trump returned to his failed claim that the FBI “plant[ed] fake evidence.”
In keeping with Trump’s habit of committing crimes and other indiscretions in plain sight, an empty folder marked “Classified” and a Situation Room brochure have apparently been on display at a Trump Tower bar for at least the better part of this year. Their presence there, as if they were artifacts in an American history museum exhibit, not only began several months ago but remained even after the FBI seized documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Raising some serious questions (starting with “Where are the contents of the folder?”), the display shows Trump’s “really cavalier approach to a serious national security system and issues,” according to Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). As he told HuffPost on Friday, the inclusion of these items is, in part, about Trump reminding us that he “doesn’t have to follow the rules.”
Trump is also flouting special rules regarding the use of these specially marked items. Although the brochure may be unclassified, it’s also marked “for official use only,” which is governed by federal regulations. Plus, the presidential seal, which appears on both the brochure and the folder, must never be used to promote a business. The fact that Trump has done so repeatedly at his golf courses, which is the subject of several CREW complaints, does not change that law.
As Hillary Clinton expressed on The View earlier this month, Trump’s behavior “should concern every American because those documents, and the empty folders they were marked, suggest that there was really important, secret information that is essential to our country’s defense and security.” She then recalled how “a military courier” would deliver documents to her office sealed in “a briefcase locked to his wrist.” But her emails, but her emails.