Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to Donald Trump, has reportedly told investigators from special counsel Jack Smith’s office that the former president did not give an order or even discuss the declassification of classified materials before his departure from the White House.
These statements appear to contradict one of Trump’s primary public defenses in the case of classified documents from the Oval Office which were taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Meadows reportedly told the investigators that he was not aware of a “standing order” from the former president authorizing the declassification of materials taken from the White House. This does not bode well for the former president as this case has been touted as one of the strongest against him.
The former chief of staff also divulged that he did not pack the boxes which ended up at Mar-a-Lago, instead offering to go through them and remove any classified materials before they were sent back to Washington- an offer which Trump did not take up.
Trump’s legal defense has long rested upon claims of a standing order to declassify materials taken to Mar-a-Lago, a notion which Meadows seems to categorically deny. Furthermore, some have argued that the former president never needed to order declassification at all, and that the documents he took simply became unclassified upon being removed from the White House. However, this argument lacks precedent and may be difficult for a jury to accept.
The revelations reportedly from Meadows have caused discord among Trump’s GOP supporters. As the former president continues to cruise towards the 2024 nomination, many Republicans are being asked to come to terms with the fact that the crimes Trump may have committed may not be as easily defended as the former president’s ardent followers first thought.
The news that Meadows reportedly told investigators that the former president did not order the declassification of materials taken from the White House has sent shockwaves through Washington. It remains to be seen whether this will be the final nail in the coffin for Donald Trump’s legal battles, or whether the former president still has more defenses up his sleeve.
Meadows told special counsel he could not recall Trump ever declassifying Mar-a-Lago docs https://t.co/dex8xxKk9a
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) August 21, 2023