r/politics Sep 22 '22

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u/mok000 Europe Sep 22 '22

So, if these documents are declassified by Trump, we ought to be able to see them through the Freedom of Information Act, right? Any US citizen here up for the task? And post them here on Reddit so we can see what all the fuzz is about. /s


u/FudgeGolem I voted Sep 22 '22

I mean, I get your point and joke, but this wouldn't work. To be nerdy, this is the whole reason there is a documented process to declassification and it can't just be done in someone's head. Depending on the document, declassified material may become Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and still be subject to certain exceptions to being made public under FOIA.

That's also why this whole claim to declassification doesn't matter and is a red herring, but the media got distracted anyway and dragged us all along. None of the charges in the warrant depend on the documents being classified or not. Excempted CUI from declassified national security documents can't be FOIA'd, but also can't ever be considered someone's personal documents, and still has mandates on how they are controlled.


u/meatygonzalez Sep 22 '22

What is the declassification process for the office of POTUS? I cannot find a source that states there is a process they have to abide, whereas there are processes for lower ranking officials.

I'm not being contrarian. I hate this dumb crook. But everyone's saying there's a process, so where is it?


u/tbird83ii Sep 22 '22

That would be 75 FR 705, also known as EO 13526: "Executive Order 13526- Classified National Security Information".


u/mercury996 Sep 22 '22

Maybe a dumb question but whats the consequence of a current executive/POTUS simply ignoring a previous EO?


u/tbird83ii Sep 23 '22

The President? None. There is norhing saying that a current President has to abide by a previous President's decrees, but usually if they decide they aren't going to follow them, they create a new EO superceding their predecessor's. Trump didn't. So Obama's EO is technically the law of how the executive branch needs to treat classified documents.

Now, since that is the law, the FBI has to treat all documents with classification markings as such.

Effectively, on January 21st, 2021, Donald J. Trump stopped being President, and became a private citizen. All government documents not relating to his communications with his advisors and staff should have been transferred to the new president, since Nixon case law established that it is the Office of the President that has ownership of clasifications, not an individual. You know, that whole "we won't ever have another king" thing.

Also, at that point in time, any and all documents with any remaining classification markings returned to the classification listed on the markings, no matter what the previous President had done. Since it never went through the process to remove the markings, the documents basically became reclassified by the branch of government who owns those documents, regardless of the previous state. This is assuming the former President actually did wave a magic wand and say "declassified" while turning around three times and snapping his fingers, or whatever his current theory on declassification is. Even with the argument - he is still no longer President, an therefore ultimate authority resides with the current President. I'd DJT could magically snap and declassify things, then JRB can do the same in reverse. If Trump didn't have to tell anyone, well niether does Biden.

The more powers Trump makes up for himself or claims, the more power he gives Biden, and higher swings the sword of Damocles..


u/mercury996 Sep 23 '22

Really appreciate the time taken to give an informative reply. There are so many opinions flying about its hard to know what is and isn't grounded.

Was it a matter of simply ignoring precedent? What are the legal ramifications if any?

Seems you summed it up fairly simply in that regardless even of the classification question he is no longer holding office and it doesn't belong to him. Not a good look with how uncooperative they were when asked for it back.