Politics - News Analysis
NARA Proves That Trump KNEW the Proper Way to Declassify Documents and is Turning Over the Evidence to Jack Smith
As everyone knows, Trump claims that he can declassify files and folders by simply looking at them and deciding whether they are declassified. As everyone also knows, that is not the way things work. Though, as noted by The New Yorker “Borowitz Report,” perhaps Melania wishes that she could divorce Trump by simply looking at him and making a decision.
It is true that a president can choose to declassify material. But there is a process by which it happens. After all, improper disclosure of material can prove U.S. intelligence capabilities or get a spy killed. There is a reason that processes are followed.
Now the National Archives claims to have 16 documents proving that Trump knew that there was a special process required to declassify documents. According to CNN:
In a May 16 letter obtained by CNN, acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall writes to Trump, “The 16 records in question all reflect communications involving close presidential advisers, some of them directed to you personally, concerning whether, why, and how you should declassify certain classified records.”
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The 16 presidential records, which were subpoenaed earlier this year, may provide critical evidence establishing the former president’s awareness of the declassification process, a key part of the criminal investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents.
Now, most people know that ignorance of the law is no excuse. But in prosecuting a crime, all prosecutors know that they have to prove intent, and if the DOJ can prove that Trump knew the law required him to initiate a process, that is strong proof that he intended to break the law. CNN comes to the same conclusion:
The records may also provide insight into Trump’s intent and whether he willfully disregarded what he knew to be clearly established protocols, according to a source familiar with recent testimony provided to the grand jury by former top Trump officials.
One can bet that Jack Smith has known this for a long time. It is up in the air as to whether Trump’s lawyers have known this for a long time because the prosecution isn’t under any obligation to turn its materials over to the target until charges are filed.
But it might be why Trump’s lawyers have argued that the move out of the White House was so chaotic that aides may have inserted files marked in red with “TOP SECRET SCIF” in with Trump’s personal materials. I’m sure everyone has had that happen at least once in their life.