This morning White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows filed a statement in federal court confirming that his boss, President Trump, is a lying liar who should never be trusted. Sure, he's like "the leader of the free world" or whatever, but the court should definitely ignore anything that comes out of this man's mouth. And when it comes to Twitter … PFFFFFT.
Last year, CNN and BuzzFeed, along with reporter Jason Leopold, filed a FOIA lawsuit to gain access to underlying documents and edited information from the Mueller investigation. The Justice Department has steadfastly argued the need to withhold these documents and protect editorial offices under a variety of FOIA exceptions, including national security, individual privacy interests, and grand jury secrecy.
US District Judge Reggie Walton has largely endorsed the government's position. But the DOJ got a catch last week when the president included those two tweets during an angry bender (possibly fueled by the steroids being pumped into him to treat the covid infection) after leaving the hospital.
I have fully approved the full release of all documents relating to the greatest political crime in American history, the Russia Hoax. Likewise the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No editorial offices! https://t.co/GgnHh9GOiq
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
All information about the Russia joke scandal was released by me a long time ago. Unfortunately for our country, people have acted very slowly, especially as it is perhaps the greatest political crime in our country's history. Action!!!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
At first glance, these statements seem contradictory – how can the president empower his henchmen to do something that happened a long time ago? But four years after that nightmare, logical inconsistencies are barely visible.
In any event, plaintiffs immediately filed an urgency motion for COUGH IT UP, claiming that the president had just cleared the entire lot. The government replied that "(d) the President's recent statements on Twitter referring to the" release "of information were not an instruction to the Justice Department" and that nonsensical words of the President on Twitter "do not represent a self – Execution of the declassification order. "
In the DOJ's testimony, the President wanted to say that he was reiterating an earlier order that gave Bill Barr the right to publish Mueller documents, a right the Attorney General has not exercised in the case.
That argument that the President is just BS-ing and no one should take his Twitter feed seriously has been largely in effect previously. But last Friday, Judge Walton seemed very skeptical.
"How do I know what the White House attorney is saying is actually the position of the president?" He urged DOJ attorney Courtney Enlow, and later added, "When a president makes a direct statement that he is taking certain action. I don't think the White House attorney can undermine this by changing his position, unless it is the President himself who said, "I don't mean what I said."
In doing so, Mark Meadows vowed that he had managed to rip Trump off his milkshake and "spoke to the president about his intentions regarding two statements he made on Twitter on October 6, 2020 regarding the release".
The President pointed out to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and did not require classification or clearance of certain documents, including the FD-302 reports of witness interviews conducted by the Federal Investigation Bureau in connection with the investigation conducted by Special Adviser Robert Mueller III. Instead, the President's statements referred to the authorization he had given the Attorney General to release documents as part of his ongoing review of intelligence activities related to the 2016 presidential election and certain related matters. The President's statements do not require any change in the cuts to the records in question in this or any other instance, including, but not limited to, edits made in accordance with the FOIA discretionary exceptions.
Oh yeah, that sounds just like President Trump. He would never arm the power of the federal government to interfere in an election.
Well, there was that time two weeks ago when he complained to Rush Limbaugh that it was "a shame" that Bill Barr hadn't forced John Durham to come up with his account of the origins of the pre-election inquiry into Russia. And the other time he said to his therapist Maria Bartiromo, “Bill Barr can go down as the greatest attorney general in our country's history, or he can go down as the average man. We'll see what happens. “Regarding LOCK HER UPS, to the entire Obama administration for tapping his wires to do RUSSIA HOAXES to him.
"I hope he does a great job and I hope that they are politically incorrect," wailed Trump. “Obama knew everything. Vice President Biden, stupid as he was, knew everything, and everyone else knew it. "
Even so, Trump doesn't know any FD-302 from a magical, invisible plane. You bet!
Judge Orders Trump To Be Asked For Clearance Tweets In Mueller Info Fight (Law.com)
Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore, where she writes on law and politics.