Former President Donald Trump has a new excuse for the highly sensitive government documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago.
In a statement published by Just the News, which is run by right-wing figure John Solomon, who’s representing Trump in dealings with the National Archives and who wrote the article on that site containing the statement, a representative for the former president claims Donald issued a “standing order” for the declassification of government documents taken to his residence. Nowhere in the report is there any tangible evidence that such an order existed. “The very fact that these documents were present at Mar-a-Lago means they couldn’t have been classified,” the Trump team’s statement claimed. “As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different. President Trump, in order to prepare for work the next day, often took documents including classified documents from the Oval Office to the residence.”
“He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified,” the dubious statement continued. “The power to classify and declassify documents rests solely with the President of the United States. The idea that some paper-pushing bureaucrat, with classification authority delegated BY THE PRESIDENT, needs to approve of declassification is absurd.”
This notion — that a standing order for the declassification of federal documents existed — barely tracks with a previous attempt at a defense from Trump, who suggested in the time since FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago on Monday in search of those sensitive government materials that federal personnel might have planted evidence. There was never any real-world evidence that anything was planted. If a standing order for the declassification of government records really existed, did Trump simply forget about it? Why was he so concerned about what might get recovered from his residence if any records at Mar-a-Lago were supposedly automatically declassified?
Notably, the statement from Trump’s team published by Just the News seems to hinge on documents showing up at “the residence,” which sounds like the presidential residence at the White House — which isn’t Mar-a-Lago. What if some of the records were taken from the White House directly to Mar-a-Lago? Would the supposed declassification apply to any Trump residence? Why did it take this long for the former president’s team to publicly mention the supposed standing order if it really existed? At present, the warrant for the Mar-a-Lago search and an official listing of recovered items — including information regarding the French president and nearly a dozen sets of government documents with various restriction levels — are publicly available after Trump’s lawyers declined to oppose the release of the warrant and accompanying property receipt.