In his letter “Catnip for a Trump Hater” (Aug. 20), Thomas Oatway licks his chops with eager anticipation of President Donald Trump’s looming convictions and subsequent fitting for an orange jumpsuit after the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Not so fast!
Mr. Oatway’s analysis leaves much to be desired. He is shocked to imagine that Trump could leave the White House with “classified” documents, not to mention “ordinary” White House historical documents. Perhaps he should examine a few facts regarding the Constitution and the law. Regarding classified documents: The president has a plenary constitutional power to declassify documents of any security level for any reason he sees fit.
In fact, if he wishes, he can pick up a top-secret SCI (sensitive compartmented information) document, declare it unclassified, march to the Russian embassy and hand it over. This might be unwise, but it is legal. The president could be impeached for such an action, but he could not be prosecuted for breaking the law. This all may seem far-fetched, but just imagine it being done in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear conflict. And that is why such powers exist.
In addition, the President is not bound by any bureaucratic procedures to effect such declassification. He does not have to fill out forms or ask permission. With respect to the so-called “classified” documents found at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had a standing order that documents he removed from the White House would be declassified. The Department of Justice has no authority to reclassify them after the president left office.
In addition, ex-presidents maintain their security clearances and are allowed to keep classified material in their possession. The DOJ tried to leak that Trump had some kind of nuclear secrets that were a clear and present danger. That, of course, is preposterous. Nuclear codes, for example, are changed often and it is hard to imagine that Trump had any designs of nuclear weapons to peddle. It is much more likely, admittedly unproven, that the classified data had something to do with Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s illegal program hatched to discredit Trump before the 2016 election. Trump publicly declassified that program, but the FBI is still trying to hide the information to avoid embarrassment.
With respect to White House historical documents — the courts have decided that the ex-president alone is the decision authority as to what is or is not an historical document to be surrendered to the archives. And there is no specified time limit within which decisions must be made. It can be many years. The Archives may request but have no authority to demand the return of any document in the ex-president’s possession.
It should be clear that there is little reason to concede that the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago was anything more than a political exercise, most assuredly under direction from the current White House. Democrats will holler and scream and try to hide the truth, but it will come out. So, Mr. Oatway should prepare himself for another disappointment. In the end, like the Robert Mueller investigation, this will be “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The media and Democrats will amplify leak after leak, and Adam Schiff will once again allude to his definite, but never available, proof that Trump is a criminal. It may take several years but Trump will walk away more popular than ever. It is even possible that the DOJ will bring a case to one of their toady Washington, D.C., juries where they never lose with a Republican defendant, but that will be overturned. Hopefully, the obvious corruption, bias and dirty dealing of the DOJ and FBI will be exposed to all.