What Do New Documents in ‘Plasmic Echo’ Case Reveal About the Feds’ Surveillance of Trump?

News & Politics

“Plasmic Echo” is the latest in the bizarre code names used by the FBI in its surveillance of President Trump. The federal government is trying to prosecute Trump under the Presidential Records Act and is charging him with having a file folder of 100 or so classified documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago. The code name came to light when presiding Federal Judge Aileen Cannon released a trove of redacted documents in the case.

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The government had tried to block the release of the documents in the Miami court. Upon review of what has been released so far, it seems that the Feds believed that secrecy benefited their attempt to muddy the waters of public opinion. What was released is interesting but not earth-shattering. It is a casebook reminder of the federal government’s obsession with classifying anything that might reveal to the American public how the FBI and other federal agencies are spending their taxpayer dollars.

In this case, Judge Cannon applied the common-sense standard that the defendant has a right to see the evidence against him. That the government would think otherwise is one of the more bizarre examples of Washington lawyer-think.

What have we learned? First, there’s the case code name “Plasmic Echo.” According to a consultation with Dr. Google, a Plasmic Score measures the aggregation of platelets in the heart that can lead to thrombosis — in other words, whether you have the big one that lays you out in the silk at the local funeral parlor. Hmmmm. You have to love these FBI guys. They go right to the heart of the matter when they move in for the kill.

Second, the FBI surveilled Trump’s plane. One would think that an ex-president’s plane is his castle, but in what the FBI likes to call its “loose surveillance,” a new state of affairs exists. There doesn’t appear to be anything “loose” in the modern federal domestic surveillance state. Clearly, if Trump picks his nose, the Feds will have a record of it, loose or otherwise.

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The unsealed documents say that the surveillance was designed to determine if “boxes were loaded onto the plane.” It is unclear when the FBI began its surveillance on “Trump Force One,” the former president’s private plane. Trump did not attend Biden’s inaugural and flew Air Force One to Mar-a-Lago, having moved out of the White House and back to Flordia while he was still president. 

As in the surveillance of Trump when he was campaigning for president in 2016, the timeline is important. If nothing else, it might further demonstrate the weird obsession that the FBI, intelligence agencies, and the Department of Justice have in spying on Trump’s every move.  

Third, 28 FBI and DOJ officials were involved in the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Why negotiate a subpoena when you can beat your chest in front of the public with a show of irresistible force as you raid Trump’s home? Perhaps someday, this will be another heroic episode in the TV annals of the FBI. 

Fourth, a person designated as “Person 16” claims that “people” told Trump’s co-defendant Walt Nauta that Trump would pardon him after he was elected. Person 16 also said he righteously told the president to return the documents or he would be indicted. The document does not name the people or explain under what authority they were acting when speaking with Nauta. 

Could it have been the American “people”? Every barroom pundit and TV talking head was saying precisely the same thing at the time. What voter didn’t expect that Trump would hand out pardons like candy to those he considers to be on Joe Biden’s political prisoner list? 

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Classified inside information is hardly necessary for Person 16 to say that “people” were saying that to Nauta or anyone else who would listen. The documents do not name the “people” who Person 16 claims communicated that secret information to the defendant. 

While Judge Cannon seems to be playing this trial down the middle, the prosecution of Joe Biden for also possessing classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and next to his Corvette in his Wilmington, Del., garage is proceeding…. oh wait. Hold the presses on that one. The Corvette exception applied in that case. If only Trump had been cool enough to put on the sunglasses and drive around with the documents in a Corvette.

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