Donald Trump said on Thursday that Americans would not ‘support’ indictments against him over top secret documents he took from the White House – and ominously warned that criminal charges could spark ‘big problems” never seen before.
Trump also said he issued a standing order to declassify anything he took from the White House. It’s a resurrected claim that even his lawyers haven’t presented in court filings — and contradicted by several Trump administration officials.
Asked about possible indictments related to several boxes of White House documents, including classified and even top secret files, hidden at Mar-a-Lago, Trump repeatedly told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on his show that Americans won’t “put up with it”. and that any accusation would trigger “problems in this country like we may never have seen before.”
When Hewitt asked him to detail what kind of problems, Trump replied, “I think they would have big problems, big problems. I just don’t think they would put up with it,” he added, referring to the audience. “They won’t stand still and put up with this ultimate prank.”
When Hewitt pointed out that the comments could be construed as incitement to violence, Trump replied, “It’s not incitement. I’m just saying my opinion. I don’t think the people of this country would accept that.
In any case, even if he’s indicted, Trump stressed that it wouldn’t stop him from running for president in 2024, saying he’s going to run.
Hewitt also noted that Trump ally and former Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel said he saw Trump “give verbal orders to declassify documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago.”
“Do you remember placing these orders? Hewitt asked Trump.
“That’s right,” replied the former president. “Not only that, I think other people were there as well.” Trump also insisted he had “the absolute right to declassify, absolute.”
Although Patel supported Trump’s claim to issue a ‘standing order’ to declassify documents the former president took from the White House, this was not affirmed in court documents by Trump’s attorneys. . Patel appears to be the only one other than Trump to have insisted such an order exists.
CNN spoke to 18 Trump administration White House officials last month, all of whom said they had never heard of such an order.
Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton and his former White House chief of staff John Kelly also said they had never heard of a standing order regarding declassification, even if they should have known if he existed.
“Nothing approaching such a senseless order has ever been given,” Kelly told CNN.
Bolton told The New York Times last month that Trump’s claim about declassifying the documents was “almost certainly a lie.”
“If he [Trump] if you said something like that, you should commemorate it, so people know it exists,” and it would then be subject to requests for public recording, he noted.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that presidents have the power to declassify documents and that some files confiscated by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago may no longer be classified. But they did not argue that Trump ordered the documents declassified. The former president ‘seeks to raise questions about the classification status of the files’ but did not assert in court – or provide ‘any evidence’ – that they were declassified, department lawyers argued Justice in a court case this week.
Chairs have the power to declassify information but must follow a process. Two years ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit stated categorically that “declassification, even by the President, must follow established procedures.”
Declassification cannot be done in secret. Former Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called such a concept “laughable” because “an integral part of any act of declassification is communicating that act to everyone who has the same information.” .
Declassified documents are treated very differently. On the one hand, as Bolton pointed out, they are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and can be viewed by the public. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti on Thursday called Trump’s statement that he declassified documents a “big mistake” that could land him in legal trouble.
“Establishing the position that he ‘declassified’ everything he brought to Mar-a-Lago may seem to help him, but in fact it locks him into a story and makes it harder to pivot later on. ‘He’s been charged,’ he tweeted on Thursday. .
The Huffington Gt