Looking For A Motive

We’re talking about crime here — and the age old question. Why? Why did they do it? Every two-bit crime show asks the question. It plays a starring role. It’s all about the motive. Especially when the underlying crime seems… Vague. Inexplicable. Or just plain stupid.

I mention this by way of taking on recent questions about a former President. As in, why did TFG take — and so assiduously try to hide — all those Top Secret documents? Because… it seems just plain stupid.

First things first. The American criminal justice system does not depend on the answer to that question. A jury can get to guilty or not guilty with nary a glance at motive. The mind, after all, is a tricky thing to pierce. Even on a good day, it’s difficult to determine what a suspect was thinking. Or if he thinks at all.

So, the lack of motive is not an obstacle to reaching a verdict. For that, we need opportunity and evidence. Still, the motive question persists.

Indictment: United States of America v. Donald J. Trump

I know, I know. Many have asked the motive question. Many have given up. Probably a good idea. After all, the alternative is to indulge in rampant speculation. Which is mostly useless. But still… why not go for it anyway? The U.S. public represents a very large jury pool. We want to know why. Some of us even need to know why. Welcome to a very wide ocean (notice I did not say deep).

More Questions Than Answers

Among the speculative answers floating in the data verse is the idea that those carelessly stacked boxes represent a man’s insecurities. To quote a prominent NYT opinion writer:

He must worry: Without pieces of paper to prove I am important, am I important?

Maureen Dowd, To Jail or Not to Jail, NYT, June 17, 2023

That takes us, almost immediately, to the specter of childish impulses. Think “security blanket,” or “stuffed animal.” Here’s one of TFG’s rivals commenting in that vein:

“He flew the boxes up to New Jersey for summer vacation. What is this? Like, they’re a family member?”

Chris Christie


I have a different take. Because, perhaps, I’ve spent (too) much time delving into the idiosyncrasies of serial murderers. I’m not suggesting that TFG is anything of the sort. [Although he did say, at one time, that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”]

That said, there is one characteristic of serial killers that seems applicable here. Mementoes. As in, serial killers often grab keepsakes from their victims. Hide them. Bring them out at night. Drool over them. It’s a way for them to re-live the kill and re-experience the surge of their emotions.

Robert Hansen’s Mementoes (courtesy AST)

Motive, Simplified

Stay with me. It is not speculation to suggest that TFG has failed to banish the idea that he won the 2020 Presidential Election. And, with that, he clings to the trappings of the office. He refers to the purloined documents as “mine.” Is quoted as saying he doesn’t want anyone going through “my boxes.” He’s been called a packrat. Ok, fine.

What I take from this is far simpler. With the physical (paper) trappings of his Presidency close at hand, TFG can pretend-play that he’s still The President. Indeed, it’s as if he never lost the Presidency.

During an audio-recorded meeting with a writer, a publisher, and two members of his staff, TRUMP showed and described a “plan of attack” that TRUMP said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense and a senior military official.

Indictment: United States of America v. Donald J. Trump

Remember, the man treats Mar-A-Loco as a surrogate White House. One where all his sycophants are within arm’s reach. It’s old home week whenever he’s in the building. Still has the Secret Service cats there to remind him of his station. And then there are the boxes themselves. The mementos.

Here’s a quote from Sgt. Glenn Flothe’s 1983 Search Warrant for Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen’s residence: “FBI Special Agent Douglas stated that the suspect in this case is not inconsistent with the profile of a serial killer. Douglas also stated to affiant that such a person would commonly keep a ‘stash’ of mementos… It is Special Agent Douglas’ experience that such a ‘stash’ would be kept somewhere near to hand with easy access to the perpetrator.”

If you’re TFG, you can even get your minions to move the mementos at will. Play Hide ‘n Seek. Is a Bedminster search in the offing? An exhumation? I’m hoping that’s a bridge too far. And then I remember 5th Avenue.

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2023). All rights reserved.

Leland E. Hale

Purchase Butcher, Baker

Order my latest book, “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE. True crime from Epicenter Press about Alaska’s Worst Unsolved Mass Murder.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *