Wednesday, August 31, 2022


Donald Trump's theft of classified documents seems like a national security disaster, but in The Washington Post, David Von Drehle tells us it's just Trump being the wacky guy he's always been.
... former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham ... noted that Trump simply has a thing for paper — heaps of it, the more jumbled, the better. He even hauled boxes of assorted materials with him when he traveled on Air Force One. “There was no rhyme or reason — it was classified documents on top of newspapers on top of papers people printed out of things they wanted him to read. The boxes were never organized,” Grisham told The Post....

Anyone who has flown in Trump’s company can confirm Grisham’s account. When I interviewed candidate Trump in early 2016 aboard his private 757, the pile of disorganized paper on his desk made a striking contrast to the pristine white leather seats and gold-colored hardware. An even larger mess rode in the seat next to him — thousands of pages in all....

Trump did not read anything from the paper piles. Several times during the flight he plucked a news clipping or report seemingly at random from the stack and peered at it with a puzzled look. Then he tossed it back onto the pile. The sequence repeated every five or 10 minutes until I understood completely why many in Trump’s orbit believe he is dyslexic.

But if the mass of material was not to be read, what purpose did it serve?

It was a prop.... The mountain of paper showed how very busy and important its owner was.

This became clear as the candidate began rummaging through the pile for various proofs of his own fame and lovability. He dug down about three inches to unearth an 8-by-10-inch photograph of the late pop superstar Michael Jackson. “Do you know who this is?” he asked improbably. “A very good friend of mine,” he answered himself.

Later, he reenacted the same performance with a photograph of Muhammad Ali. Still later, a picture of boxing promoter Don King. The uproar of the day had to do with Trump’s endorsement from Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke — and whaddaya know: So many very good Black friends of The Donald just happened to surface from the pile.
So Von Drehle thinks Trump kept top secret documents so he can wave them around in the presence of people he wants to impress (a group that consists of literally everyone he meets). And this is supposed to make us less worried about the document theft?

If Von Drehle said that Trump kept them so he could gaze on them privately, in a Mar-a-Lago inner sanctum far removed from anyone else's view, like a billionaire who's commissioned an art thief to steal him a Renaissance masterwork, I'd be somewhat mollified. It would still be reckless, appalling, and illegal, but I could imagine that the danger might be contained.

But Von Drehle is talking about classified documents, many of them extraordinarily sensitive, and is saying, "Hey, don't worry -- Trump just likes to show people stuff to impress them." This is not stuff we want him to show people -- not Russian or Saudi officials and not blue-haired Mar-a-Lago members (or shady people who want you to believe they're Mar-a-Lago members).

If you tell me that the primary reason Trump took the documents was to show them to people who shouldn't see them, that's not reassuring.

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