Former President Donald Trump’s legal team is attempting to have it both ways as they insinuate he has the power to declassify documents but not explicitly say he did in the case of the documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago compound.
In a court filing on Monday (September 12), Trump’s lawyers made the first such insinuation that Trump — who has claimed this since the day documents were retrieved — declassified the documents.
Rather than offer Trump’s clear-cut excuse that he had declassified the documents in his residence, his attorney’s used qualifying language, detailing that Trump had the power to do it sans “approval of bureaucratic components of the executive branch.”
Such statements only add to the mystery of whether or not Trump declassified the more than 300 classified materials located in his Florida home. Yet pundits argue that the wording provides little comfort because if Trump declassified the docs in a secretive manner, this scenario is also problematic.
Discussing the assertions by Trump’s lawyers that the former President declassified documents without the knowledge or approval of others, a lecturer at Yale University and former FBI special agent, Asha Rangappa, stated, “If he did, and he did it in the way that he claims he did, that’s actually not really the flex he thinks it is. It actually suggests that he had a nefarious purpose.”
Rangappa explained that Trump’s actions — failing to alert intelligence communities of his decision to declassify documents — points to a desire to want the documents to hold their value. Value the documents would have lost had they gone through the typical declassification process.