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Trump reportedly told aide: ‘You don’t know anything about boxes’


By any fair measure, all of the criminal cases against Donald Trump are serious, even if one of them appears to be the easiest to pursue. As Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana recently said, the former president’s classified documents case looks like “child’s play.”

And while that assessment seems more than fair under the circumstances, that doesn’t mean the scandal can’t get worse. ABC News reported that the Republican’s longtime aide, Molly Michael, told federal investigators that he “repeatedly wrote to-do lists for her” on documents marked as classified.

As described to ABC News, the aide, Molly Michael, told investigators that — more than once — she received requests or tasks from Trump that were written on the back of note cards, and she later admitted these cards as sensitive White House documents – with visible elements. Classification Marks – used to brief Trump while he was still in office on phone calls with foreign leaders or other internationally-related matters.

In other words, according to the ABC News report, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, Trump had a history of using classified documents like actual notebooks.

But as remarkable as these allegations are, there is another element in the story that stood out to me:

The sources said Michael also told federal investigators that over the past year she had become increasingly concerned about how Trump had handled recurring requests from the National Archives for the return of all government documents held in boxes at Mar-a-Lago — and she felt that Trump’s claims about it would then be easy to refute, according to the sources. Sources said that after Trump learned the FBI wanted to interview Michael last year, Trump allegedly told him, “You don’t know anything about the boxes.”

Just to be clear, “the boxes” referred to the containers filled with sensitive materials that Trump improperly took to his glorious country club after leaving the White House. His longtime aide was almost certainly familiar with “the boxes,” which makes it all the more remarkable that the former president reportedly told his aide, “You don’t know anything about the boxes” after learning that Michael was on the No point talking to the FBI.

It’s almost as if Trump feared his aide would tell law enforcement the truth, so he took the legally dubious step of subtly encouraging her to play dumb.

Indeed, this is reminiscent of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who was told, “The less you remember, the better,” as part of her January 6 testimony.

Last month, after Trump attempted to publicly discourage Georgia’s former Republican lieutenant governor from testifying before a Fulton County grand jury, New York magazine’s Jon Chait noted: “Which can certainly be assured, without no legal training is that this is not the behavior of an innocent man.” Likewise, innocent people – who have no idea that they are involved in wrongdoing – generally do not feel the need to tell their assistants, “You don’t know anything about the boxes” before talking to the FBI.