Kash Patel, a one-time aide to former President Donald Trump, suggested on Sunday that Trump had the power to declassify documents through social media posts while he was in the White House.
He argued that this level of authority held by Trump meant that the burden of proof fell on the authorities to show that the former president failed to declassify the documents seized in the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid.
However, Patel’s claims about Trump’s powers as president contradict clear court rulings and past sworn statements from Trump’s staff.
“In October of 2020, President Trump put out for the world to see a sweeping declassification order,” Patel told Fox News host Mark Levin on Sunday. “And he did it via social media.”
Trump has claimed that the Mar-a-Lago documents were declassified because he had a “standing order” as president to automatically declassify any files he took out of the White House. However, some of his former top officials said they had never heard of such an order while he was president.
However, federal court rulings during Trump’s own presidency indicate otherwise.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal stated in July 2020 that “declassification, even by the President, must follow established procedures,” after two journalists requested documents they said Trump had declassified on Twitter.
In October 2020, following Trump’s tweet about declassifying documents, the former president’s then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows submitted a sworn declaration stating that Trump had indicated that his declarations on Twitter were “not self-executing declassification orders” and did not “require the declassification or release of any particular documents.”