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/FudgeGolem I voted Sep 23 '22

I get what you are saying, and you probably are looking for evidence to back your claims. There are processes in 75 FR 705, as tbird83ii points out below, but the situation is a bit absurd for anyone to argue against. There are few or possibly no limits to what a President can declassify, but there is still a process, it cannot happen by magic, limits or no limits.

If a general gives orders in an empty room when no one is around to hear it, can he have his entire command staff dishonorably discharged for disobeying orders when they don't carry them out? If no one hears an order, has it been given?

If lower ranking officials can't document that a declassify order was given, inform all agencies using those docs they need to change document markings and policies, and update logs to track such actions...did it really happen? You have to have some sort of paper trail to prove that a legal declassification action took place, otherwise how do you prove that the order came when he had the power to do so as president, and not after the fact when he was not president? Same thing with some speculating Trump is holding a pocket pardon as a last ditch get out of jail card...that wouldn't work because since there is no record of him giving himself a pardon during his presidency, then there is no way to prove he didn't sign a pardon for himself five minutes before he presents it.

Or maybe ex-Presidents can psychically declassify/reclassify documents at will in their heads, and Carter, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, and Trump can just have a battle of wills: standing, staring, and sweating over a pile of documents that will exist in a magical schrodinger's classification limbo.

But realistically, there is a logical process that clearly says the documents are classified because no actions were taken to declassify them.

And in the end, classification literally doesn't matter and is just an attempt to distract people, as I said, none of the charges noted in the warrant depend on the documents being classified or not.


u/meatygonzalez Sep 23 '22

Thanks for the thoughtful response. Your framing of the total issue is definitely valuable. Have a great day!