Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Congressional Research Reports on Protection of Classified Information

In the wake of last week's seizure by the F.B.I. of top secret files at the Florida residence of former U.S. President Donald Trump, the Congressional Research Service in Washington, D.C. has updated a few of its reports on the topic of classified information and presidential powers.

The New York Times also featured an article on August 14 entitled Presidential Power to Declassify Information, Explained (may require password): "Former President Donald Trump’s claim that he had declassified all of the documents that the FBI seized in the search of his Florida home last week — including those marked as top secret — has heightened interest in the scope of a president’s power to declassify information. On Friday, Trump’s office claimed that when he was president, he had a 'standing order' that materials 'removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them,' (...) Apart from whether there is any evidence that such an order actually existed, the notion has been greeted with disdain by national security legal specialists."

And Politico on August 15 published an article entitled Why Donald Trump’s declassification claim might not be that outlandish: "Nearly 20 years ago, Justice Department prosecutors wrestled with the vexing question of whether President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney could unilaterally authorize Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby to leak to select journalists the key findings of a then-highly-classified intelligence community-wide report on Iraq’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction (...) One problem for Trump is that he’s no longer president and his possession of tangible copies of apparently sensitive national security records implicated a host of potential legal concerns. And, as in Libby’s case, there are other charges that could be brought against Trump besides those dealing with classified information. But the episode from the aftermath of the Iraq invasion in 2003 highlights the difficulty in pursuing prosecutions of classified information in cases that have direct links to the Oval Office."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:50 pm


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