Seeking to explain why he kept classified documents after leaving the White House, Morning Joe put on its collective shrink hat today, and offered its clinical diagnosis of Donald Trump.
The team laughed its way through a New York Times article by Maggie Haberman and others that Trump was "unusually attached to those boxes and their contents."
Mika Brzezinski recounted that staffers -- including personal aide Molly Michael -- "reportedly referred to the boxes as Trump's, quote, 'Beautiful Mind material' -- in reference to the book and movie about Nobel prize-winning mathematician John Nash," who was schizophrenic. Joe said "I don't think they meant that as a compliment."
Elise Jordan claimed that it was "bizarre" that Trump didn't have some assistant handling all of the classified material -- as if Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton demonstrated careful management of classified documents. She suggested Trump was not only bizarre, but a "hoarder," and "You hear these horrible stories about hoarding of animals. He was doing the same thing with these classified documents."
Oh, and for good measure, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson claimed Trump also brings to mind the hideous and pitiful creature Gollum from Lord of the Rings, who prized the Ring as "my precious." The documents, he claimed, were "some sort of weird security blanket, some sort of -- it boosts his ego and reminds him that he actually somehow became President of the United States. I don't know what it, what it is about it. But it's pathological, in addition to being criminal."
Once again, Joe Scarborough managed to work into the conversation his past role as a congressman, mentioning how the FBI would have been all over him in minutes had he removed classified documents from a briefing room. But that never happened to Senator Joe Biden.
There's an interesting irony here. If it is indeed demonstrated that Trump was, as Mika and Joe described it, "obsessed" with the documents, and hoarded them, that might not provide a defense to the charges against him. But it could put his actions in a much less culpable light than the alternative theory the liberal media has been peddling: that Trump took the documents in order to sell them to foreign actors.
For example, in 2022, we caught Katty Kay on Morning Joe musing that Trump might have "intended to do something nefarious with [the documents] for his own benefit." Also in 2022, MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner put his suspicions in stark terms:
"The most reasonable inference is that Donald Trump disposed of those classified documents after unlawfully taking them from the White House. To what purpose did he put them? Did he sell them to America's adversaries? Did he use them to blackmail people? Did he use them to leverage a favorable business deal in some country or another?"
This is the same Kirschner we noted earlier this week arguing that Trump should be jailed pending his trial on the documents charges.
If Jack Smith had evidence that Trump did indeed sell the documents, or use them for other nefarious purposes, it's fair to assume that would have been the centerpiece of his indictment. But at least so far, no suggestion of that.
Here's the transcript.
6:07 am EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Like, why? Why did he hold onto these classified documents? And one week after the latest indictment of Donald Trump, there is new reporting that would poke holes in one of the former president's defenses.
Despite claiming earlier in the week he, quote, hadn't had achance to go through all the boxes he took with him to Mar-a-Lago, former White House aides tell the New York Times that Trump was unusually attached to those boxes and their contents. Throughout his presidency --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Can you read that line again?
MIKA: -- and after leaving office.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you saying he was unusually attached to those boxes?
MIKA: Unusually attached to the boxes, and their contents.
SCARBOROUGH: It's so interesting. So many people get unusually attached to other human beings --
SCARBOROUGH: -- you know, faiths, or what. But he's unusually attached to those boxes.
MIKA: He loved these boxes.
SCARBOROUGH: He loved them.
MIKA: And he was obsessed with them. The staffers reportedly referred to the boxes as Trump's, quote, Beautiful Mind material --
MIKA: -- in reference to the book and movie about Nobel prize-winning mathematician John Nash.
SCARBOROUGH: So you're saying, Willie, I don't think they meant that as a compliment!
WILLIE GEIST: Yeah, no.
SCARBOROUGH: [Laughing, as clip from movie played] There's John Nash's Beautiful Mind on the wall. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, he was diagnosed, Willie, of course, with schizophrenia as an adult. And he covered his walls in the office with newspaper clippings and documents.
GEIST: Again, this is coming from people close to Donald Trump. People have witnessed this behavior, and that was the running joke, I guess it was, inside the White House, that this guy is like John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. Traveling with his documents, keepin his boxes, taking them upstairs.
And as Maggie Haberman and the Times team points out, he was warned by members of his own staff: hey, don't take that stuff with you. That stuff is classified. That stuff stays here.
. . .
ELISE JORDAN: This is so bizarre. Just the handling of the classified documents, even from the president. You have been around highly sensitive documents. The idea that he could just take something from the Oval Office to the White House, and it wouldn't be handled by, you know, the proper confidential assistant. It is so bizarre that so many holes just were let go and that he was essentially hoarding.
JORDAN: I mean, he's a hoarder. You hear these horrible stories about hoarding of animals.
JORDAN: He was doing the same thing with these classified documents.
SCARBOROUGH: The magnitude of these crimes, when you start thinking about the fact -- I've talked about what would happen if I went to a briefing, as a member of the Armed Services committee, took a classified document back to my office? The FBI would be calling me in 15 minutes.
. . .
EUGENE ROBINSON: In addition to being a bad person, Donald Trump is a deeply weird person. [Scarborough laughs] And you remember that point, that point in the indictment where he's talking to, to Evan Corcoran, his lawyer, you know, right, about the pluck-'em-out conversation. And, andd he's saying, I don't want anybody going through my boxes. I don't want you going through my boxes.
It's almost a kind of Gollum in Lord of the Rings moment --
ROBINSON: You know, my precious.
ROBINSON: It's, it's like a hoarding instinct about, about these documents. Some sort of weird security blanket, some sort of -- it boosts his ego and reminds him that he actually somehow became President of the United States. I don't know what it, what it is about it. But it's pathological, in addition to being criminal.