We speak in praise of Devlin Barrett!

MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2023

Front page of the Washington Post: We rise today to speak in praise of the Washington Post's Devlin Barrett.

More specifically, we refer to the analysis piece which tops the front page of this morning's print editions. The piece is a model of clarity and clarification. Headline included, Barrett's report starts like this:

Why Trump was charged on secret documents and Clinton, Pence were not

When Donald Trump was indicted last week on charges of willful retention of classified documents, many Republicans, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, cried foul, arguing that the Justice Department was treating the 45th president differently than it has Democrats who’ve been investigated over possible mishandling of national security secrets.

But the Trump indictment itself helps explain the difference between his case and other high-profile probes, like those of Hillary Clinton, President Biden and former vice president Mike Pence—not for what it charges, but for what it doesn’t.

Trump faces 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, a crime delineated in the Espionage Act that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Each count represents a different highly sensitive document that Trump allegedly kept at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence and private club.

Twenty-one of those documents, including some involving nuclear secrets, were found by FBI agents who searched the estate in August—yielding a total of 102 classified documents, according to the indictment. The other 10 willful-retention charges stem from a batch of 38 classified documents turned over to the FBI last June in response to a grand jury subpoena.

The key point turns out to be this:

Trump hasn't been indicted for taking the classified documents. He's been charged for their "willful retention"—for deliberately refusing to give them back. 

It isn't the taking, it's the willful retention! Later, Barrett fleshes out this point:

“This is not a case about what documents were taken, it’s about what former president Trump did after the government sought to retrieve those documents,” said [former federal prosecutor Robert] Mintz, who noted that willful-retention cases often hinge on how much evidence prosecutors can find that a person deliberately hid material or refused to give it back.

The indictment offers anecdote after alleged anecdote charging that the former president sought to hide and keep some of the classified papers, so much so that Trump and Nauta are accused of conspiring to obstruct the investigation and scheming to conceal the truth not just from the government, but even from Trump’s own lawyer.

Barrett offers clarification from beginning to end. People who get their stories from red tribe media will rarely hear such points.

Along the way, Barrett uses this distinction to help explain why Trump has been charged with federal crimes, while Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence have not. Citizens who get their frameworks from Fox News will rarely be exposed to such points.

There's much more to say about the way the Hillary Clinton email "scandal" was handled—rather, was mishandled (ducked)—by major blue tribe figures in the summer of 2016. 

The Rachel Maddow Show was stunningly AWOL as the themes of this punishing "scandal" took hold. Incredibly, for the first two nights in July of that year, guest host Steve Kornacki actively adopted the James Comey version of what had happened in the matter of Clinton's emails!

Upon her return from her summer vacation, Maddow herself proceeded to duck the topic all through that fateful summer. Today, red tribe forces continue to feed off the incompetence / laziness / cowardice of our blue tribe stars that year.

Getting back to today's major point:

Trump hasn't been charged for taking the documents. He's been charged for willfully refusing to give them back.

This morning, the distinction was spelled out in impressive detail for blue tribe news consumers. In our flailing nation's heavily segregated news environment, red tribe citizens haven't heard that distinction explained, and most of them never will.


  1. That's why taking a look at Robert F. Kennedy make sense.

    1. You really are quite the weirdo. You mean the great election denier of 2004?

    2. He's running right now as a Democrat.

    3. He’s fully aware he can only function as a spoiler.

    4. Wait, Kennedy as in 'the' Kennedys??? That is great!

    5. No, his relatives are appalled by him.

    6. He's an environmental lawyer. It's worth taking a look at him just given how unpopular Biden is.

    7. RFK jr is a neoliberal that engages in right wing conspiracy theories.

      Furthermore, he spouts all kinds of right wing nonsense, like sealing the border, taking Russia’s side on Ukraine, and is against a ban on assault weapons.

      RFK jr is only worth a look if you are a right winger.

    8. Biden or any other candidate's alleged unpopularity has no bearing on the suitability of some other candidate. You wouldn't elect Alfred E. Newman simply because you didn't like Huey Newton. Each person needs to be evaluated on their own merits and RFK is an anti-vaccine nutcase who believes in conspiracy theory. The worst sane candidate would be better than RFK because this world is sorely in need of sanity and doesn't need more of the crazy.

    9. What does this guy get paid to come here and shill for Bobby every day? How can one of us get that gig?

    10. I would listen to one of RFK's interviews. He's is not crazy or right wing at all. It's a good chance for all of us to get rid of Joe Biden. If not RFK, who? We can't go with Harris or Butenguiig.

    11. If you think he is not crazy or right wing, prrhas it is you who is crazy or right wing?

    12. I don't think so. Nice gaslighting though.

    13. 9:37 am, congratulations, you have finally convinced everyone here to support RFK Jr. with your thoughtful and convincing arguments.

      It is time now you move on to another liberal blog and keep the momentum going.

      Best of luck to you.


      Anonymous xxx

    14. The Right-wingers i've spoken with say RFK, Jr., is another "in the pocket of big business Democrat", with all the Marxism, Communism, and hatred of Capitalism that comes with being a member of the Democrat Party.

    15. yeah, that sounds about right, 10:36.
      I am a little late for my Marxism/Communism class right now so we'll leave it at that for the moment.

    16. Don't compare RFK jr to the Almighty, compare him to the alternative.

  2. Jumping off a building is fine, the landing is a problem. So what is the distinction Bob is drawing here? Will he be able to forge it into another defense of Trump? He's still working on that. On the face of it it doesn't make much sense. Unless you are arguing he took them by accident or he didn't know it was wrong (Bob will that his best shot) but Trump's own statements make a mockery of that claim.
    To be a little fair to Fox, their audience will hear people trying to show the difference between Trump and other cases. It will be downplayed on their big star's shows, however. We already have Sean laughable attempt to save Trump from himself.

  3. You know who ELSE had learned to be silent about the anything goes attacks on the Clintons by 2016? A fellow named Bob Somerby.

  4. "There's much more to say about the way the Hillary Clinton email "scandal" was handled—rather, was mishandled (ducked)—by major blue tribe figures in the summer of 2016."

    This is garbage. After repeated probes nothing has been found to charge Clinton with. So-called "major blue tribe figures" understood that Clinton was innocent and responded accordingly. There is no reason why they should have "handled" or "mishandled" anything because there was nothing to handle. She was not guilty of anything.

    But Somerby pretends the press or so-called major blue tribe members should have jumped on the red tribe's bandwagon, their rush to jail her or at least tar her indelibly with their made up charges.

    Trump is guilty as hell of major wrongdoing. Clinton was accused of a great deal, none of which panned out because she was innocent of the right's manufactured charges, including the ones about her emails.

    Now Somerby is trying to pretend there was a double standard by the blue tribe. That's pure and utter garbage.

  5. Trump leads Biden in most polls.

    1. How did that work out for Trump in 2020?

  6. "Incredibly, for the first two nights in July of that year, guest host Steve Kornacki actively adopted the James Comey version of what had happened in the matter of Clinton's emails!"

    Kornacki and Maddow are news reporters, analysts and commentators, not partisan defenders of Hillary Clinton. But Somerby himself didn't say a word either. He was busy telling people that Clinton was a spectacularly bad candidate and that Trump was likely to win. Somerby, as usual, keeps asserting that the mainstream media is partisan (liberal) while simultaneously complaining that they didn't actively defend Clinton. Meanwhile Clinton and her surrogates said eveything they could to defend the charges and Somerby piled on along with the Republicans, blaming the Democrats for anointing Comey as a God (there is no evidence that happened, beyond approving of his principled stand against Trump. Democrats were vocally outraged when Comey made his last-minute statement about Huma Abedin's husband's laptop (a revival of the empty charges about Clinton's emails that lost her the election according to Nate Silver at 538 blog).

    Somerby wants to pretend he was a Clinton supporter, but he was not. He spent his time here talking about her flaws, which is not what liberals do when trying to win the presidency. Real Democrats rally around the nominee, no matter who they favored in the primaries. Somerby favored Bernie and Bernie didn't throw enough support behind Clinton, nor did his bros, who repeated the conservative attack points against Clinton, just as Somerby did here.

    As Driftglass says -- No fair remembering things!

  7. "This morning, the distinction was spelled out in impressive detail for blue tribe news consumers. In our flailing nation's heavily segregated news environment, red tribe citizens haven't heard that distinction explained, and most of them never will."

    Most blue tribe members already understand this distinction. The red tribe members don't need to hear it because they (1) won't care whether Trump did anything wrong, (2) think he should be allowed to keep whatever he wants, (3) believe Trump declassified all those documents with his mind, (4) think Trump is being persecuted because Clinton and Pence and Biden were all let go, (5) will repeat whatever their party tells them to, regardless of what they read of hear anywhere else. Fox is no longer the source for the mandatory talking points. Red tribers are shifting their allegiance to other media sources. Expecting red tribers to have open minds free of Russian influence is a joke that Somerby is trying to put over on his.

  8. "In our flailing nation's heavily segregated news environment"

    Who has segregated the news? Not the government. No the news stations themselves. People are self-segregating, but also the right wing tells its followers who and what to watch or listen to or read. The left does a lot less of that.

    I remember when Somerby tried to tell his readers to watch Fox and Tucker and Hannity, because they have the best facts over there and the left doesn't hear what the right does. Now it seems pretty clear that the left is better off not hearing the lies told on the right.

    Any moron knows the difference between what Trump has done and what others did (Pence, Clinton, Biden). Most of us news junkies on the left have read the actual indictment online. I wonder how many on the right done that. If they did, why would they need the Washington Post to spoonfeed it to them?

  9. No fair! Somerby didn't even tell us which elite college Barrett attended, and when, or do elite schools only get disparagement and not a share of the praise when one of theirs does good?

    1. Driftglass says it's no fair so now you are saying it?

    2. So fair and foul a day I have not seen.

    3. Just shows a lack of originality.

    4. 11:23, no you misunderstand Driftglass.

      See below.

      And yet there are no subjects more aggressively avoided by the Very Serious men and women who dominate media and politics than The Past. Specifically the Republican Party's past: how it came to be the racist shitpile it is now, and how the media enabled it by coddling the GOP when it was in power, and memory-holing its atrocities when it was out of power.

      Well, No Fair Remembering Stuff (tm) will change all of that.

      Ha, ha, ha. No it won't. But we hope it will be another step in the right direction.

      Because Blue Gal and I have been writing about politics and the media since the earliest days of the Liberal blogosphere, so we have vast and detailed archives.

      So to be clear, Driftglass is very much in favor of remembering stuff.

    5. I meant the phrase in the same way Driftglass meant it. If you think otherwise, you are the one misunderstanding me.

    6. 10:44, OK, sorry. I guess I did misunderstand.

  10. "Why Trump was charged on secret documents and Clinton, Pence were not"

    Clinton had no secret documents. She had three instances where an email was retroactively made confidential but that was not marked secret or any other classification at the time it was sent and received. Aside from the fact that she surrendered everything upon request, she did not have hundreds of highly classified documents the way Pence, Biden and Trump did.

  11. The indictment is damning - ask Barr, ask Turley, etc - so Somerby pretends he only recently discovered the details.

    Ok, Somerby.

  12. Fort Bragg has been renamed. It’s now Fort Liberty.

    Rob DeSantis and Mike Pence say it should revert to Fort Bragg.

  13. Otherwise known as being hoisted on your own petard.

    Florida Republicans Admit They Made a Big Mistake With Anti-Immigrant Law
    Republicans are trying to convince immigrants that the law was just to “scare” people, nothing more.

    Florida Republicans passed a bill criminalizing the transport of undocumented people into Florida, requiring hospitals to ask about immigration status on intake forms, invalidating out of state driver’s licenses or other forms of government ID issued to undocumented people, and preventing local governments from issuing identification cards to undocumented people.

    Now, after sparking backlash among thousands of immigrants (who make up a great deal of Florida’s economy), some Florida Republicans are trying to backpedal and do damage control.

    On Monday, Representatives Alina Garcia, Rick Roth, and Juan Fernandez Barquin appeared at an event sponsored by Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo, also a Republican. The trio, all of whom voted to pass the anti-immigrant bill, clumsily attempted to appeal to the thousands of people their party has alienated.

    “This bill is 100 percent supposed to scare you,” said Roth. “I’m a farmer, and the farmers are mad as hell. We are losing employees. They’re already starting to move to Georgia and other states. It’s urgent that you talk to all your people and convince them that you have resources, state representatives, and other people that can explain the bill to you,” he added, essentially begging Florida’s labor force to not leave the state that cares little for them.

    Bwahahaha! Meatball Ron is a joke.

  14. This confirms it -- Somerby is being paid by the word.