The huge news story right now is all about Trump taking those top-secret documents home to Mar a Lago.
But the discussion seems to be about some pretty minor issues, relating to the pages of paper.
(for example : The documents apparently not stored in a secure enough room, with only a cheap lock.)
Sure, that’s a critical issue for national security…But it is also irrelevant, because it seems to me that there is a much bigger issue: a simple desktop copier…
Surely Trump has a copier in his home office.
This story has been running for almost a year. There have been conflicting news reports that Trump is, or is not, cooperating with the National Archives.
But what difference does it make if he cooperates in returning the original paper documents, but keeps copies for himself anyway?
My question is simple (and remember, folks, this is FQ):
Is there any way to know if top-secret documents have been copied?
Trump has 700 pages in cardboard boxes, all of which could fit on one CD or thumb drive, if he scanned them at home…
We all know that Trump ain’t no genius…but surely he realized over the course of the past year that somebody was very,very interested in taking those documents away from him.
So copying them seems like the obvious thing to do.
But there has been zero discussion of this possibility.
Why would he bother to copy them? In his mind, they are his and don’t belong to the government. If you don’t think there is anything wrong with having them, even though a federal agency has asked you to return them, I don’t see any reason to copy them. It’s the originals he wants for his own innocent or nefarious purposes.
Scanning is mentioned in the OP. The question is whether one can tell a document has been photocopied. I could see (perhaps) there being a way if you use a photocopier or scanner that involves running a bright light across the document, and that somehow discolors it or gives some other tell-tell evidence of copying (like an inconspicuous mark on the page.) But I don’t see how photographing (in ambient light) them could trigger anything like this.
I suppose something like that is possible (Photoshop won’t let you open images of US currency, for example, but that’s a somewhat different thing) – but then you can just find an older camera that doesn’t have that technology on it. It wouldn’t be too hard. Or film.
And it really doesn’t tell us whether the original document had been photocopied or not. There’s nothing on the original document marking the attempt.
The only fool proof method I can think of is to find a copy of the document.
I’ve seen poorly adjusted or dirty autofeeders on copy machines that leave marks on the originals. I can imagine some sort of forensic document expert (or randos on the Internet) arguing over smudges on the paper that show “they went through a Konica 650 autofeeder, just like they have in the office there!”
I saw a thread that suggested the problem was, a lot of what he had were his copies of dirt on assorted other politicians and business people. (Hence “they even opened my safe” was an alleged warning to his victims that “hey, Biden has the dirt now.” that the good stuff was in the safe) It makes sense, to request a pardon, the person would have to write a letter explicitly saying what a pardon was needed for, essentially confessing their crime.
If this were true, then it would be surprising if there was only one copy. Also, letter to the president asking for a pardon is presidential material that belongs to the archives, not the person.
The copy-proof paper is meant to glow when scanned with the high intensity scanner light. Not sure what it does with less intense light of home equipment. Certainly, it is not immune to photography perhaps unless it is done with a flash, in which case the problem could be noted and corrected quickly - turn off flash.
Also, modern photocopiers would have digital counters. Where the copier is, who has access would be a clue; is it connected to a network (so could produce PDF scans)? I don’t know what level of job tracking copiers do nowadays, some can be very sophisticated and need password to allow certain access. (Which if one’s business dealing are “sensitive” would be a good thing to do) Many are scan-to-hard-disk then print systems, not sure if the most recent 10,000 documents might still be recoverable from the hard drive. It’s instructive that they did not seize any computers or copiers along with the documents. Nor, apparently, any cellphones that might have photos. Plus, in the documents seized, there’s no suggestion they seized additional copies.
But then, such electronic shenanigans may be beyond a certain person’s technical know-how, if they rely on minions for the techie grunt work - and those minions are probably susceptible to incentives to talk which involve 10-to-life.
The machine identification code was tiny yellow dots scattered around a colour copy - intended to identify the copier used if a colour laser printer/copier were used to make fake money. It has the additional option, like fingerprints, of establishing that X and Y document came from the same machine. Considering that colour laser printers are a dime a dozen (or only a few hundred dollars, I have one at home) I suspect this tech is less useful unless someone uses their amateur hour to counterfeit on the company copier. A low end copier could be purpose-bought through back channels, used only for its nefarious purpose, and thoroughly destroyed when no longer useful.
Almost every device now will scan to PDF, email, USB stick, network, etc. etc. as well as copying.
After an exchange of cash, any copies may already be in the hands of foreign adversaries. Another possibility involves Trump keeping copies as a possible defense against future indictments. Trump may be thinking he can use these documents as blackmail and threaten to release them if proceedings against him continue. Just a wild theory.