A new report from The Washington Post reveals potential criminal activity by former Trump administration chief of staff Mark Meadows in the context of the ongoing criminal investigation into the handling of classified materials from Trump’s tenure.
Federal law states that anyone who “knowingly and willfully” makes “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” against the backdrop of any issue under the jurisdiction of any of the three branches of the federal government could face penalties including jail, and according to the Post, Pat Philbin, who worked in the White House Counsel’s office in the Trump era, told National Archives lawyer Gary Stern on a September 2021 call that, per Meadows, the former president was harboring a dozen boxes of news clippings — and that was it. Obviously, that assertion proved to be flatly incorrect. The Archives discovered materials marked classified in 15 boxes handed over from Trump in January of the following year (meaning earlier this year), which led to the Justice Department investigation that drove the recent FBI raid of Trump’s southern Florida property Mar-a-Lago, where agents found even more classified material.
It was previously publicly known that the Archives and Trump’s team were in communications across a months-long period before the federal record-keeping agency finally retrieved the more than a dozen boxes from the former president back in January, and this info about false claims apparently originating with Meadows about the documents Trump still had shows the kind of obstruction — intentional or otherwise — that Archives personnel were dealing with in that time frame. Relying on remarks from Meadows, Philbin told Stern on the late 2021 call that the former president’s team wasn’t aware of anything else, government records-wise, that Trump was still harboring. Philbin also claimed to Stern that, per Meadows, no documents were destroyed, although the pace of misrepresentations from Trump’s corner calls even that into question. According to the Post, Stern pursued the call because of concerns regarding both the retention of digital files and physical records he believed Trump was still harboring.
“Mr. Meadows did not personally review the boxes at Mar A Lago and did not have a role in examining or verifying what was or wasn’t contained within them,” Ben Williamson, a Meadows spokesperson, said. Assuming that line of argument is accurate, it means somebody else — Trump perhaps? — is responsible for the misrepresentation and could face criminal exposure for lying to a federal official. The same sorts of questions apply to misrepresentations from Trump lawyers Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb about what remained at Mar-a-Lago — and what was getting returned to authorities — further down the line. Corcoran claimed all remaining federal records were in a certain Mar-a-Lago storage area, and a signed statement from Bobb asserted everything covered by a federal subpoena for documents marked classified was getting returned. Neither were accurate. Who was the source for those lies?
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