The Biden Department of Justice lobbed a pre-election grenade at the presumptive 2024 presidential nominee Donald Trump in a midnight filing on Tuesday by attaching a photo of alleged ‘top secret’ documents the FBI seized at Mar-a-Lago.
The now-infamous photo is undoubtedly circulating throughout Americans’ email inboxes this morning, flooding social media channels, and is being heralded on the morning television shows. It would not be surprising if Attorney General Merrick Garland already has the photo framed and mounted and hung proudly in his office.
The ‘top secrets’ document photo, labeled ‘Attachment F’ (you can guess what the ‘F’ stands for) is indisputably provocative. The ‘top secret’ documents are splayed across the ornate blue carpet with white cover sheets neatly layed on top.
The obvious first question many people are asking about this photo: Why are ‘top secret’ documents that are arguably so sensitive to national security that a court-appointed, independent “special master” should not be privy to them, being spread out for a publicity style photo? The attachment is not sealed, although the Department of Justice has asked for numerous redactions for the search warrant affidavit that purportedly justified the unprecedented raid on the former president.
So, why this photo? Why now? This is precisely the question that legal analyst Jonathan Turley is asking about this Attachment F.
“Notably, this filing includes this picture which is being widely distributed,” Turley notes on Twitter. “It can, however, leave an obviously misleading impression that secret documents were strewn over the floor when this appears to be the work of the FBI agents. The picture is Attachment F and the textual reference on page 13 simply says ‘Certain of the documents had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status’. It is curious that the DOJ would release this particular picture. The point is to state a fact that hardly needs an optical confirmation: the possession of documents with classified cover sheets.”
Thus arises the second question: If this is indeed a staged photo, then why the need for the box on the right-hand side? If you take a closer look, it shows a Time magazine cover that one might interpret as a veiled, sarcastic threat.
Let’s take a look at the actual Time magazine cover, which is from March 4, 2019.
It’s none other than Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential challengers spying on him while he is in the Oval Office. The cover story headline is “Knock, Knock…”
The Time magazine cover being not-so-subtly displayed in the FBI’s staged photo is yet another sign that the bureau is unable to do its job in a professional and apolitical fashion. This compounds the problem of the ostensibly political timing of the FBI raid on August 8, which came over eighteen months into the Biden presidency, despite the documents allegedly being an ‘urgent’ matter of national security.
The Time cover has also provoked a politicized response from whom we can only assume is the target audience. Business Insider didn’t miss the message.
“A photo released by the Department of Justice showing the documents found during the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid has also unveiled a curious discovery — a framed image of an unflattering TIME magazine cover featuring former President Donald Trump,” BI reports.
“The cover, which appeared to be placed in a gold frame, was from a March 4, 2019 edition of the publication,” the report noted. “It showed 15 of Trump’s Democratic challengers at the time — including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris — peering into the Oval Office at a nervous-looking Trump who is seated in his chair.”
It may also be the case that the FBI was merely using the photo to leak information to the press.
“The TIME magazine cover, along with Trump’s other personal items commingled with the classified, demonstrates that he was personally handling them,” CNN commentator Asha Rangappa remarked. “Thanks for highlighting key evidence of his guilt!”
New York Times correspondent and CNN analyst Maggie Haberman highlighted the Time magazine cover.
A Bloomberg reporter went further and provided a passage that he thought was relevant.
In a very inconsequential aside, the photo shows Trump also kept a framed photo of a 2019 Time magazine cover on the Democratic primary race to oust him, and that “many Democrats argue Donald Trump is a threat to American democracy.”https://t.co/5ZRk9EnNTopic.twitter.com/ZcwtpLIGvf
It is unclear why the DOJ felt it was necessary to attach a staged photograph that is not sealed showing “top secret” documents so sensitive that a “special master” should arguably not be privy to them.
Then the Biden DOJ shows in the staged photograph a particular Time magazine cover with a political message about the 2020 election. Trump’s 2020 rival and potential 2024 rival is peering into the window. Kamala Harris is peering in through the window. This is a message being sent by the same FBI that weaponized Clinton opposition research to spy on the Trump campaign.
It is the same FBI that let Clinton escape without criminal charges or a damage assessment, despite being a Secretary of State without ultimate declassification authority. Clinton carried out official government business on an illicit server during her tenure as Secretary of State. ODNI declined performing an intelligence damage assessment, despite her possession and transmission of classified documents.
However, the Department of Justice is openly seeking both criminal charges and an intelligence damage assessment against the former President. The Biden DOJ is obviously seeking to put an end to any potential of a Trump return to the White House after the 2024 presidential election, even if it has to carry out FBI raids and stage photos to do it.