Former DoJ official who probed Hillary emails throws cold water on accusation Trump declassified docs

A former Department of Justice official asserted that if former President Trump had indeed declassified all documents held at his Mar-a-Lago home then there would be evidence of that fact.

David Laufman, a DOJ official who investigated Hillary Clinton’s emails (for whatever that’s worth) said he rejects the notion that Trump could broadly declassify documents or have a standing order to do so.

“It can’t just be an idea in his head,” he told CNN. “Programs and officials would have been notified. There is no evidence they were.”

“As a practical matter, you have to prove it,” an unnamed source said. “If he says, ‘I declassified something,’ the obvious question is, ‘Did you tell anybody about it?’ The obvious concern is that this is all after the fact.”

U.S. presidents have plenary authority to declassify documents, but arguments from both sides have arisen as to the process involved in such declassification.

Former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton called the notion of a standing declassification order “a complete fiction.”

“I was not briefed on anything like that when I started as national security adviser,” Bolton said on CNN’s “New Day” earlier in the week. “I never heard of it, never saw it in operation, never knew anything about it.”

“If this existed, there had to be some way to memorialize it. The White House counsel had to write it down. Otherwise, how would people throughout the government know what to declassify?” Bolton added.

Former and short-time chief of staff for Trump, John Kelly, pushed back on any claims of a standing order as well.

“Nothing approaching an order that foolish was ever given,” Kelly said. “And I can’t imagine anyone that worked at the White House after me that would have simply shrugged their shoulders and allowed that order to go forward without dying in the ditch trying to stop it.”

“There is a process to declassify, the president can’t just wave a magic wand,” one former senior Trump White House official argued.

“Total nonsense,” said another, supposedly senior White House official. “If that’s true, where is the order with his signature on it? If that were the case, there would have been tremendous pushback from the Intel Community and DoD, which would almost certainly have become known to Intel and Armed Services Committees on the Hill.”

Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy argued that a document cannot be declassified just because its location has changed.

“A document that is classified in Washington, DC, is unclassified in Florida — one could say such a thing, but it is nonsensical,” he explained. “And it calls into question the good faith of anyone who would make such a claim.”

Olivia Troye, the Homeland Security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, said, “there would be a paper trail of this blanket authority being the case, and in two and a half years of working in national security in the White House, not once did I ever hear this discussed.”

CNN claims to have spoken with 18 former Trump administration officials, many of whom remain unnamed (go figure) and are alleged to have laughed at the idea of a standing order or said they thought the former president simply made it up.

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