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Ex-president Trump fires back after National Archives said he took classified documents


Former US president Donald Trump fired back at the National Archives Friday night after the agency said he took classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he left office.  

‘The National Archives did not ‘find’ anything, they were given, upon request, Presidential Records in an ordinary and routine process,’ Trump said in a statement Friday night. 

 ‘If this was anyone but `Trump,´ there would be no story here,’ he said. ‘Instead, Democrats are in search of their next scam.’

Classified information was found in the 15 boxes of White House records that were stored at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, the National Archives and Records Administration said earlier Friday in a letter that confirmed the matter has been sent to the Justice Department.  

Federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it is possible that Trump could try to argue that, as president, he was the ultimate declassification authority.

No matter the legal risk, it exposes him to charges of hypocrisy given his relentless attacks during the 2016 presidential campaign on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state. The FBI investigated but ultimately did not recommend charges. 

Trump recently denied reports about his administration’s tenuous relationship with the National Archives and his lawyers said that ‘they are continuing to search for additional presidential records that belong to the National Archives.’  

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, said in a statement Friday that ‘these new revelations deepen my concern about former President Trump’s flagrant disregard for federal records law and the potential impact on our historical record.’

She added, ‘I am committed to uncovering the full depth of the Presidential Records Act violations by former President Trump and his top advisors and using those findings to advance critical reforms and prevent future abuses.’ 

The National Archives confirmed on Friday that Donald Trump took classified documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he left office. It also confirmed that former President Trump ripped up documents that were later transferred to the archives

On Friday night, Trump fired back at the National Archives saying they did not `find´ anything, they were given, upon request, Presidential Records in an ordinary and routine process'

On Friday night, Trump fired back at the National Archives saying they did not `find´ anything, they were given, upon request, Presidential Records in an ordinary and routine process’

Such record-keeping has flared up repeatedly in recent years, and Hillary Clinton’s use of private email was a driving element of Trump’s 2016 campaign. 

It is the latest in a series of revelations in the past two weeks about Trump’s handling of files when he left office, including claims he stuffed documents down the White House toilet and got the Pentagon to incinerate papers.

The archivist said NARA had contacted the White House counsel in 2018 following a press report about Trump tearing up records.

The counsel’s office responded that the matter was ‘being addressed.’

After the end of the Trump Administration, it learned that ‘additional paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump were included in the records transferred to us.’

‘Although White House staff during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records, a number of other torn-up records that were transferred had not been reconstructed by the White House,’ according to the letter. 

Among the other items the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago is the infamous hurricane map that the president allegedly scrawled on with a Sharpie pen to expand its possible path. 

People wait for a moving van after boxes of papers and materials were moved out of the Eisenhower Executive Office building inside the White House complex on January 14, 2021

People wait for a moving van after boxes of papers and materials were moved out of the Eisenhower Executive Office building inside the White House complex on January 14, 2021

The National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago, where former President Donald Trump has offices and where he resides. Included was an infamous 'sharpie' map with the track of approaching Hurricane Dorian in 2019

The National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago, where former President Donald Trump has offices and where he resides. Included was an infamous ‘sharpie’ map with the track of approaching Hurricane Dorian in 2019

One item that reportedly made its way to Mar-a-Lago is a mini replica of a redesigned Air Force One that Trump used to display in the Oval Office

One item that reportedly made its way to Mar-a-Lago is a mini replica of a redesigned Air Force One that Trump used to display in the Oval Office

The National Archives confirmed that it recovered classified material from Mar-a-Lago

The National Archives confirmed that it recovered classified material from Mar-a-Lago

The letter also confirmed that President Trump had 'torn up' paper records

The letter also confirmed that President Trump had ‘torn up’ paper records

The newly torn up records had not been taped back together

The newly torn up records had not been taped back together

What are classified materials and who can declassify them?  

 The letter from the National Archives and Records Administration to Congress stated that it has identified items ‘marked as classified national security information’ within 15 boxes of information returned by Trump from Mar-a-Lago.

The government maintains various levels of classified information. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, ‘Top Secret’ information applies to information that could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.

One level down is ‘secret’ information, which could ‘reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.’ Below that is information that is merely ‘confidential.’ That applies to information, ‘the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security.’

Notably, the letter from Archivist of the U.S. David Ferriero did not state at what level the information is classified.

The government classifies voluminous material, and there is a longstanding effort by watchdog groups and some lawmakers to reduce the amount of classification.

The Washington Post previously reported that some of the documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago were clearly marked as classified, with some at the ‘top secret’ level.

It reported some were ‘extremely sensitive’ and would be limited to a small group of officials.

It is a crime to mishandle classified information, and the letter from NARA states that it has been ‘in communication’ with the Justice Department.

The president has broad unilateral authority to declassify information. In 2019, Trump tweeted out a high-resolution image of an Iranian rocket launch, leading to questions about whether he had put out classified information. He later tweeted: ‘We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do.’

According to press reports, letters Trump exchanged with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un were among those documents he had with him at Mar-a-lago. The contents have already been publicly released. It is not known if the original letters still bore a classification level, or what information from the trove was ‘top secret.’

 

Another keepsake that a source told the Post had been removed was a mini replica of Air Force One that Trump proudly displayed in the Oval Office, after involving himself in details of a redesign all the way down to its red, white, and blue paint job.

A former aide said Trump displayed at Mar-a-Lago a ‘mini replica of one of the black border-wall slats’ that Trump helped design for his border wall.

There are laws governing the removal of classified material – however the president also has unilateral authority to declassify information, leading to a potentially murky area.   

The National Archives said it had ‘ongoing conversations’ with Trump before retrieving the 15 boxes of material.

It said it expects to complete an inventory by Feb. 25th.   

On Thursday, President Biden rejected another executive privilege claim by Trump to withhold the White House visitor logs from the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.

In a letter sent to the National Archives on Tuesday, Biden’s White House Counsel Dana Remus told the archivist of the U.S. David Ferriero the agency should provide the material to the panel within 15 days. 

Former President Trump is attempting to invoke executive privilege to keep the panel from obtaining the logs, just as he did with other White House documents that were turned over to the committee earlier this month.

Ferriero wrote a letter to Trump Wednesday informing him that he would be cooperating with the White House’s request that the logs be released to the panel within 15 days.

‘After consultation with the Counsel to the President and the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, and as instructed by President Biden, I have determined to disclose to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (‘Select Committee’) the Presidential records from our January 14, 2022, Notification that you identified as privileged in your letter of January 31, 2022,’ he wrote.

He added: ‘[T]o ensure that personal privacy information is not inadvertently disclosed, the Select Committee has agreed to accept production of these records with birthdates and social security numbers removed.’

Trump could try to block or slow the release of the logs like he did with other White House documents and materials.

Remus requested the logs be turned over in 15 days ‘in light of the urgency’ of the committee’s probe and insisted ‘Congress has a compelling need’ for the National Archives to disclose the documents.

‘Constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself,’ Remus wrote to the Archives.

Trump’s ‘just a bad guy’ prosecutors should ‘go after’: New York Supreme Court judge’s scathing response to ex-president’s lawyer’s claim he is being unfairly targeted by Democratic Attorney General Tish James 

A judge delivered a withering put down to Donald Trump’s lawyer’s claim that the former president was being unfairly targeted by New York Attorney General Tish James on Thursday, saying she had every right to go after him if ‘he’s just a bad guy.’

At the end of the hearing, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump and two of his adult children to testify as part of a probe into the family’s business dealings.

But his language, delivered during a testy back and forth, will be seized on by Trump supporters as evidence that the investigation is a ‘witch hunt.’

Critics lauded the judge for telling truth.

Trump’s attorney Alina Habba argued that the former president was the victim of discrimination.

James has ‘such disdain for this person because he was president, because he is Donald Trump and he could probably win again in ’24,’ she said, according to Newsweek.

‘He has First Amendment rights. He’s allowed to be a Republican.’

Engoron responded: ‘There’s no viewpoint discrimination. I’m just saying there is none.’

Habba then contended that Trump was part of a ‘protected class.’

‘The traditional protected classes are race, religion, etcetera,’ Engoron responded.

‘Donald Trump doesn’t fit that kind of mold or model. He’s not being discriminated against based on race, is he? Or religion, is he?

‘He’s not a protected class.

‘If Ms. James has a thing against him, OK, that’s not in my understanding unlawful discrimination.

‘He’s just a bad guy she should go after as the chief law enforcement officer of the state.’

Trump has claimed the investigation is ‘racist.’

During the hearing Trump and his family attorneys asked for New York’s civil investigation to be put on hold until a separate criminal probe in completed.

They argued that James was using the dual tracks to skirt protections on individuals under criminal investigation.

At times the hearing was so bad tempered that Engoron and his law clerk had to call for timeouts.

But in denying their motion, Engoron said it would be ‘dereliction of duty’ for the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) not to continue its investigation.

‘Indeed this court’s in camera review of thousands of documents responsive to OAG’s prior subpoenas demonstrates that OAG has a sufficient basis for continuing its investigation, which undercuts the notion that this ongoing investigation is based on personal animus, not facts and law,’ he said.

 

 

Take the 5th? The choice could soon be Trump’s in NY probe after judge orders him to testify within 21 days

By Associated Press 

To plead the Fifth, or not to plead the Fifth?

That is the question Donald Trump may face after a New York judge ordered the former president to testify in a long-running state civil investigation into his business practices.

Trump’s lawyers are almost certain to appeal the Thursday ruling.

Barring a successful legal challenge, Trump would face a decision between answering questions under oath or remaining silent and invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination – a tactic he has equated with evidence of guilt.

‘The mob takes the Fifth,’ Trump told a campaign crowd in Iowa when running for president.

‘If you are innocent, do not remain silent,’ Trump tweeted in 2014, offering free advice as Bill Cosby faced a flurry of sexual assault accusations. ‘You look guilty as hell!’

Aside from any legal considerations, refusing to answer James’ questions carries political risks.

‘For a former president and potential candidate for the office to take the Fifth would really be remarkable,’ said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University. ‘The problem with appearing – at least as his lawyers will see it – is that Trump can´t be controlled and he´s likely to say things that will cause more trouble for him and his family.’

Trump’s own lawyers acknowledged during a court hearing Thursday that the former president faces risks by sitting down with attorneys heading up an investigation he long has derided as a ‘witch hunt.’

But even remaining silent could hurt a potential criminal defense, Trump’s attorneys said.

‘If he goes in and follows my advice, which will be you cannot answer these questions without … immunity because that´s what the law provides, and take the Fifth Amendment, that´ll be on every front page in the newspaper in the world. And how can I possibly pick a jury in that case?’ attorney Ronald Fischetti said during Thursday’s hearing.

Trump would not be afforded ‘a blanket assertion’ of his Fifth Amendment right but be required to invoke it ‘individually for each question that’s being asked,’ said David S. Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor. ‘It’s a very long and drawn-out process,’ he said.



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