Before we get to the clip from the Hannity interview, let’s take a moment and back up. The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago in August because the former President kept numerous documents with material so sensitive that only those with the very highest clearance could even read the documents and even then only in a secured room. This is important, under the Espionage Act, which was the basis for the search warrant: It did not matter whether the documents were classified or not. That is not an element of the crime. It only mattered that the documents pertained to national security.
TFG and his team, however, are desperately trying to make this about something it’s not. After initially saying that the documents were planted by the FBI, TFG now argues that he declassified the documents. How? He doesn’t say, and TFG’s lawyers have refused to assert to the “special master” that the documents were declassified because TFG’s lawyers do not want to be disbarred, a fate that has befallen too many former TFG lawyers. The special master, Judge Dearie, basically told TFG’s lawyers that they couldn’t argue that TFG had the power to declassify docs without actually saying that the docs were declassified. “I guess my view of it is, you can’t have your cake and eat it,” he said, before concluding that the documents were classified.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough: The classification status does not matter. And yet, in order to obfuscate what is the real crime here, TFG continues to argue (but not under oath) that he declassified the documents. As he told Sean Hannity last night, the President has the power to declassify anything he wants, and that there doesn’t have to be a process. “There doesn’t have to be a process,” Trump told Hannity. “You can declassify by just thinking about it.”
He actually said that. Out loud. On television. He doesn’t have to sign anything. He doesn’t have to assert anything out loud. He doesn’t even have to wave a magic wand. All he has to do is “think about it.” Do you think his lawyers threw their hands in the air or threw themselves on the floor?
Under the Espionage Act, he’s hanging himself here because he concedes that he took the documents while making a deranged argument about declassification under a law that doesn’t care about classification status.
The focus is understandably on Trump's claim of mental declassifications from his Hannity interview. But he appeared to indicate he intentionally sent the documents to Mar-a-Lago, which cuts against the "it was an accident" claims— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 22, 2022
If that’s not bizarre enough, I shit you not, TFG then argues that maybe the real reason the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago is that they were … searching for Hillary’s emails. Yes, that is a real thing he said on television.
Trump: There’s a lot of speculation because of the severity of the FBI raiding Mar-a-Lago, were they looking for the Hillary Clinton emails…— Acyn (@Acyn) September 22, 2022
Hannity: Wait, you’re not saying you had it
Trump: No, they may have thought that it was in there pic.twitter.com/O8t12teiGB
Why would the FBI believe that TFG was secretly hiding Hillary’s emails? Who is that deranged? In either case, last night, a three-judge panel — including two judges nominated by TFG — threw out Judge Cannon’s ruling about the special master and said that the Justice Department could continue reviewing the classified/telekinetically declassified documents. It was a unanimous rebuke of Judge Cannon’s order.
“Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified,” the judges write. “And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents.”
They add: “In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal. So even if we assumed that Plaintiff did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them.”
It’s an opinion that brings home virtually all of the criticism of Cannon’s ruling and even of the significance of the underlying dispute over the classification status of the documents. It’s saying both that she got it wrong — and that it’s beside the point.
Nationally, TFG continues to hold a 52-19 lead over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2024 GOP nomination.
Header Image Source: Fox