By The Big Picture

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr., and former President Donald Trump, are seen on a monitor as Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, testified during the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hearing to present previously unseen material and hear witness testimony in Cannon Building. Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr., and former President Donald Trump, are seen on a monitor as Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, testified during the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hearing to present previously unseen material and hear witness testimony in Cannon Building. Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

 

CNN reported last week that a top-secret binder relating to Operation “Crossfire Hurricane” went missing in the final days of the Trump presidency. It was not a new story, but it sure felt like one with so many new details added. The fact of the missing binder was already known to some extent and reported originally in Raw Story, based on accounts in the book Enough by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. In it, Hutchinson provided details of the 10-inch thick “Binder” about Russian election interference in the 2016 election, and about the mad scramble in the final days of the Trump presidency to declassify it and make and distribute copies of it to Trump loyalists. She even recounted how she had seen her boss Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, walk out with the original tucked under his arm.

The CNN story fleshed out the roles of two other figures central to the trail of the Binder: Trump loyalist Kash Patel and right-wing journalist, John Solomon. As details of their involvement in Bindergate emerged from the reporting, I was struck immediately by this fact: Trump had personally appointed both of these men as his representatives to the National Archives in June of 2022.

That’s when something clicked into place for me. Trump’s long quest to retrieve “presidential records” from the National Archives after leaving office, with Patel and Solomon later leading the charge, was almost entirely related to his obsessive desire to put classified details of the Crossfire Hurricane report before the public. 

“Mr. Meadows was keenly aware and adhered to the requirements for the proper handling of classified material, any such material that he handled or was in his possession has been treated accordingly and any suggestion that he is responsible for any missing binder or other classified information is flat wrong.”

And the whole “Trump declassified everything” line we kept hearing from Patel after the Mar-a-Lago search and recovery of classified documents? It likely has much to do with the Russian Binder.

To understand why that is, we need to take a bit of a dive into the facts. These include CNN’s and the New York Times’ reporting on the Binder, Cassidy Hutchinson’s account in her book, Kash Patel’s interviews and statements, and a lawsuit on behalf of John Solomon against the National Archives to demand the release of the Binder.

This will shed light on some of the following questions still lingering around the material:

  • What was Trump trying to accomplish by declassifying the Binder and the GOP House Intelligence Committee report relating to it?

  • Why was Trump so adamant in defying the demands of the National Archives to return documents he took to Mar-a-Lago, and did the Binder have anything to do with it?

  • Why did Trump appoint Patel and Solomon as his “representatives” with the National Archives?

  • What might have happened to the Binder, and has the trail gone cold?

Today we’ll pull on some threads and see where they lead. We may not emerge with full answers, but something tells me we are on the right trail here:

 

Binders Full Of Russians