Clarifying the System and Authorities to Classify Information–Trump Followed the Law

Source: A Son of the New American Revolution.

I don’t necessarily endorse the writer’s theory, but the piece provides some background that may help those who are unfamiliar with security clearance policies and procedures, especially the applicable Executive Order.

It is common for the unfamiliar to hold all sorts of erroneous notions about classified material. For example, many imagine that classified is synonymous with esoteric or hidden. In fact, classified means exactly what it implies, that the material in question has been judged as belonging to one of three classes of material (confidential, secret, top secret).

Another common mistake is to believe that having, say, a top secret clearance means that you have access to all classes of documents. Not true. In fact, access to any classified document hinges on one’s need to know what it contains. If you have a top secret clearance, you cannot access a confidential document without a need to know. Similarly, even if you have a top secret clearance, you cannot read a top secret document without a need to know what is in it.

Finally, the unfamiliar tend to misunderstand the concept of marking classified material. In particular, marking the material does not in itself make it classified. Classification is performed by a classification authority. The markings merely indicate that a classification authority has reviewed the material and determined the nature of its content. The process here is similar to grading eggs for sale at the supermarket. The eggs themselves are not altered in any way and an ungraded egg may well, on inspection, be found to belong to one of the three graded classifications.

None of these considerations necessarily exonerates Trump from any alleged crimes in holding classified material at Mar A Lago. They do, however, illustrate that the material in question may in fact have been declassified properly, despite any markings the copies bore. As matters currently stand, there is just not enough information available to judge the matter properly. It is not a slam dunk that Trump broke the law.

144 thoughts on “Clarifying the System and Authorities to Classify Information–Trump Followed the Law

  1. “They do, however, illustrate that the material in question may in fact have been declassified properly, despite any markings the copies bore.”

    That is simply false. But it is not relevant. The Espionage Act is not tied to the classifications attached to information improperly removed, stored or shared. From reporting by the NYT…

    “…the Espionage Act makes no reference to whether a document has been deemed classified. Instead, it makes it a crime to retain, without authorization, documents related to the national defense that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.”

    Since the government repeatedly and legally sought to have the documents returned then Trump had no authorization to retain them. And yet he did. Hidden in the basement of a golf club he owns. A simple matter for any jury to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “The Espionage Act is not tied to the classifications attached to information…”

      Finally you get it, or do you?

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      1. Uh, what do I finally get?

        Unless people in the Trump administration have been using the classification system fraudulently, the fact that documents bore these “Top Secret” markings is prima facie evidence that they contain information covered by the Espionage Act. The “conservative” blather about Trump’s declassification powers is a diversion from the essence of the crime being investigated.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “the fact that documents bore these “Top Secret” markings is prima facie evidence that they contain information covered by the Espionage Act.”

          Not true. The markings are prima facie evidence that the copies in hand were given classification markings. Whether the classification status is still active is another matter.

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          1. Nope.

            The President can declassify anything he chooses, on the fly, simply by revealing it. He doesn’t have to write a thing.

            IF DOING SO gives aid to an enemy, then the Espionage Act still applies, but you have to show that revealing the information was harmful to national security.

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          2. “The President can declassify anything he chooses, on the fly, simply by revealing it. He doesn’t have to write a thing.”

            Nothing can stop the President from blurting out sensitive information. Trump proved that over and over again as when he blew the cover of an Israeli operative so he could show off for Lavrov. But don’t get confused between classified information and classified documents. Whatever may be said publicly, does not change the status of ANY document. That is done by the legal and regulatory procedures that you pretend do not need to be followed. And, in this case, Trump did not reveal the contents of the top secret documents he stole. He squirrelled them away in Mar-a-Lago for some unknown purpose.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. You think that Trump personally packed those boxes himself? Or has looked through them since?

            The people from the Archives, of course had access to them so why did they not specify what documents they wanted?

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          4. “You think that Trump personally packed those boxes himself? Or has looked through them since?”

            He might have – some were from his WH residence. And, it has been reported he has shown some of the documents and photos to guests qat Mar-a-Lago.

            The presumption of an innocent mistake was appropriate when the government first asked for their return. But when agents of the Archive were given less than everything, when a subpoena quietly issued months ago was ignored, when a Trump attorney falsely certified that ALL requested material had been returned, and when the materials were in fact there, that presumption is out the window.

            There is no bona fide reason for such materials to be in Trump’s possession. None.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. The Archives had access to those boxes. They contained both personal and Presidential papers. Sorting out which was which was ongoing. Other than Obama’s letter, what specific document did they request and not get?

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          6. “The Archives people were there and requested a better lock on June 3. They were not denied access”

            Obviously, they were. Or were mislead about the contents of the storage room.

            Or did they deliberately leave behind classified documents to embarrass Trump down the road? More deep state corruption? Oh, those Archivists! Shifty bunch!

            Liked by 2 people

          7. Do you think Trump had any idea what was in each and every box?

            And note, they found 11 boxes that had one or more documents that at some point were classified.

            They took 45 boxes of documents.

            Have the other 34 been returned?

            Or was this a fishing expedition under the pretense of recovering a few questionable documents?

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          8. Somebody lied.

            A Trump attorney signed a document saying that all classified material was turned over in June.

            So perhaps after finding some more highly classified ones, the FBI did not take any chances and took anything that might be relevant.

            On a lighter note, there appears to be a big escalation of violent chit chat, calls for civil war, and other fun stuff from the right wing fans on line. Lock and load, baby, Bugaloo is a comin’.

            Republicans are so conflicted about whether they really do support the “blue”. In addition, national security being a biggie, Top Secret and highly restricted access floating around a fancy club in Florida is a bit disconcerting to those who care.

            Where is Durham when you really need him? Years and millions he nailed, let’s see…one guilty plea from some low level guy who edited an email. Come on, according to the wingnuts on the right he should have 50 indictments by now.

            If I sound a bit sarcastic, it is because I am. Trump deserves no less, IMO.

            Liked by 1 person

          9. Step back from your partisanship for a moment and look at the repeated attempts to frame Trump and contrast that with Hillary getting off Scott free because Coney didn’t think he could prove criminal intent, and the multiple felonies Hunter Biden is clearly being protected on and ask yourself why do Trump’s supporters think the system is unjust and in need of rejection.

            I would say they have exhibited remarkable restraint.

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          10. Remarkable restraint from doing what?

            Clinton lost the election most likely because of Comey and his inept handling of her case.

            A real favor there, eh?

            Do you really think Trumps supporters are enraged because they believe Clinton was treated favorably?

            Durham found nothing except one hapless bureaucrat who edited an email. Was that it?

            Trying to extort information about Biden from a foreign country, on tape with witnesses. How about that? Is that enraging MAGA.

            Maybe threatening and extorting election officials to falsify election results. Again on tape and plenty of witnesses. That’s got to be it. No?

            We haven’t even broached 1/6 and his watching TV as the Capitol was ravaged by a mob he sent. But that must really upset his base.

            I’m afraid the partisan lens is worn by you.

            Liked by 2 people

          11. A lot of red herrings there, but the central point is that if intent is required for charging Clinton then the same standard must apply to Trump.

            BYW, Durham is not done yet.

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          12. Normally, prosecutors offer deals to low level offender’s to get testimony against the higher ups, but since they know that a DC jury will not convict them they are less likely to cooperate.

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          13. “Normally, prosecutors offer deals to low level offender’s to get testimony against the higher ups, but since they know that a DC jury will not convict them they are less likely to cooperate.”

            For what it is worth, your continuing disrespect for the people of the black-majority city of Washington DC smacks of racism. There is zero reason to believe that a jury of DC residents would be any less capable of rendering fair and impartial justice than people anywhere else. The only Durham case settled by a jury was riddled with reasonable doubt – and that is being generous. But since you cannot admit ANY truth that does not fit your Trump conspiracy theory nonsense, you seek to scapegoat the people of Washington, DC. Ugly and pathetic. IMHO.

            Liked by 1 person

          14. You are the one obsessed with race, I made no mention of it. But I did point out that nearly everyone in DC is in some way dependent on the Deep State’s continued existence. They are virulently opposed to anyone who seeks to shrink the Federal government and it’s powers.

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          15. Whatever garbage is in your mind, your blaming the people of DC for the fact that the Trump narrative of a Russia Collusion hoax is bullshit does smack of racism. Especially coming from someone who minimizes almost every problem we face by blaming “urban” people.

            “They are virulently opposed to anyone who seeks to shrink the Federal government and it’s powers”

            That is complete horseshit. The type of non-factual stereotypical “thinking” that is endemic with you people. And even if it were true, it does not mean that the people of DC are unable to render fair verdicts when serving on a jury.

            Liked by 1 person

          16. unable and uninterested are two different things.

            And you are the only one to reference race. I based my opinion on employment.

            Of course, it is far easier to prevail in a debate if you get to state your opponent’s case.

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          17. “unable and uninterested are two different things.”

            So much better. Those pesky DC people are perfectly capable of rendering fair justice, they are just not interested in doing so – not at all like you defenders of the Rule of Law.

            You “European civilization chauvinists” are fooling no one but yourselves.

            Liked by 1 person

          18. I see the Deep State Democrats in DC as every bit as unconcerned with the Rule of Law when party is involved as you are.

            A jury of Paul’s could easily convict or protect anyone based on tribal loyalty alone.

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          19. So suing an oil company in Houston would always have a biased jury?

            Get a grip. Your hatred of our government is blinding you.

            When gangs approved by Trump, the standby thugs, start shooting I know which side I’ll be on.

            You?

            Liked by 2 people

          20. SO now its the jury’s fault again? Durham has gotten his one little low-level attorney who lied on a single document. HTThe are no “higher ups” to be charged. Let it go.

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          21. “. . . if intent is required for charging Clinton then the same standard must apply to Trump.”

            Of course that is true. Who says it is not?

            But intent of what? The Espionage Act make it a crime to obtain and store the covered information illegally. It does not require a transaction with a foreign actor. Did Trump intend to store these materials illegally? There is compelling reason to believe that he did.

            1. The materials were not surrendered when the Archivists came calling in February.
            2. The materials were not surrendered when the DOJ came calling in June.
            3. The materials were not surrendered when subpoenaed.
            4. There was a false certification that all materials had been delivered.

            Liked by 1 person

          22. “It is Trump’s contention that those that remained had been declassified as provided for in Obama’s executive order.”

            Let’s see what a jury thinks of Trump’s magical powers. Documents marked classified are classified until legally marked as unclassified. That is the law.

            With that said, the classification status of any of the stolen documents is not a factor in ANY of the three crimes cited for the warrant.

            Liked by 1 person

          23. And at least 6 boxes of documents clearly protected by attorney/client privilege were taken.

            Trump’s attorneys have asked for the appointment of a special master to sort through the documents before they are reviewed, which DOJ opposes.

            That is very suspicious, and BTW, the Affidavit is still concealed.

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          24. “And at least 6 boxes of documents . . .”

            Blah. Blah. Blah.

            One spurious defense and/or delaying tactic after another. Trump in a nutshell. It is how he has spent a lifetime fending off the victims of his sexual and financial crimes. It is not working anymore.

            Liked by 1 person

          25. “Step back from your partisanship”…

            You first. A TRUMP lawyer signed an affidavit in June saying that all classified documents had been turned over. We now know that to be a LIE. Yet you go into some off-the-wall distraction and whataboutism about partisanship while ignoring FACTS.

            Hillary did not act criminally and Biden has cooperated. Get out of YOUR partisan silo and stop trying to defend the indefensible.

            Liked by 1 person

          26. Your lawyer cannot make you criminally guilty.

            Comey flat out stated Hillary broke the law, but said she should not be prosecuted because intent could not be proven.

            Biden has not cooperated. and has flat out lied when he claimed no knowledge of Hunter’s business affairs. The partisan FBI buried the evidence on the laptop as
            disinformation’ for a year and a half.

            It’s not me ignoring facts.

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          27. Comey flat out wrote that Hillary broke the laws, And then said she couldn’t be prosecuted because he could not prove intent.

            Do you have reading comprehension problems?

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          28. “Biden has not cooperated”

            Which one? Dad hasn’t been asked by prosecutors and Hunter has turned over everything requested.

            Your hateful obsession with Dmes leads you down some ugly rabiit holes.

            Liked by 1 person

          29. “Why hasn’t Dad been asked, under oath, about his meetings with Hunters business associates?”

            What a joke you are! You go on and on about the Rule of Law and how terribly Trump has been treated but you do not know the answer to this question. Amazing.

            Here you go : Before you can haul someone in for questioning you need a warrant based on probable cause that a crime has been committed. And probable cause is based on EVIDENCE. And there is no evidence that a crime was committed. You may imagine all kinds of nefarious possibilities but what you can imagine is not evidence. Simple really.

            BTW, when was Trump questioned under oath about his conversations with Jared’s or Ivanka’s business associates? I must have missed it.

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          30. the laptop provide more than adequate probable cause for a forensic examination of the Biden family finances, the Partisan DOJ has just chosen not to act.

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          31. “. . .the laptop provide more than adequate probable cause for a forensic examination of the Biden family finances.”

            Laughable. The contents of that laptop were in the hands of Biden’s political opponents for MANY months. They could not find any evidence of a crime and they were not held to the standard of probable cause.

            Your self-avowed respect for the Rule of Law is a joke.

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          32. “Nope, The laptop has been examined and the documents are rime stamped prior to his taking it to the repair shop.”

            I assume rime should be time.

            But, I have no idea what “Nope” means. I stated a fact. The laptop was in the hands of the Trump campaign for months before the 2020 election. They have had it for years now. They have perused for damaging materials. They released what they found as an October surprise – some distasteful pictures and emails suggesting that Joe Biden had done a meet and greet with one of Hunter’s business contacts. That’s it. No crime. No probable cause of a crime. Not even an improbable cause of a crime. Just speculation. DOJ does not take speculation as evidence.

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          33. They WERE denied access. That is why they asked for stronger protection measures becasue they did not know exaclty what was in those boxes at the time.

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          34. “No, they were in the room and had access to the documents.”

            Uh, try to keep up. The government also subpoenaed CCTV security footage. It shows boxes going in and out of that particular storage room with some frequency. Which boxes/documents were in that room at any time is impossible to tell and how they were described by their custodians is highly relevant.

            Liked by 1 person

          35. What is it with you guys and spyware sites? Do you not have any security software on your computers at all?

            Salon was OK, but Raw Story has more spyware than article. I hope you don’t have your financial information on the same computer as you’re visiting the sites with.

            The Raw Story article was crap too. “reportedly” “sources said” but no actual sources.

            I’m glad the lawyers refused to shut down the cameras, but they should have experts review it too. At most that means there was nothing planted during the raid.

            Anyway, give your computers a good enema, because if you weren’t running good spyware protection, you might as well have your personal information in Chinese and Russian.

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          36. If they had access they would have removed them at the time.

            Your logic pretzel grows more twisted bythte minute. Kind of like the various and sundry excuses TFG has offered up.

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          37. Whataboutism on full display. We do not know if there was criminal intent yet. You are giving him the benefit of the doubt without looking at all of the facts. Trump believes he is ABOVE the LAW; you defend that daily.

            Liked by 1 person

          38. And the archives did in TWO seperate subpoenas, which were ignored or being “negotiated”. Nice try, but two pretty pleases should be more than sufficient.

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          39. Sure, those boxes contained a mixture of entirely personal papers, government records, and documents that could be seen either way. It is that third group that was under negotiation.

            Remember that Obama took 33 million pages with him.

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          40. Stop with the BS. The Obama story has been corrected and verified by those who care and are wiling to understand. Do you ever get out of the bubble?

            Liked by 1 person

          41. What Obama story? He is mentioned in multiple threads.

            He wrote the executive order Trump followed regarding classification

            And he wrote a personal, hand written letter to Trump which Trump wished to keep, while providing the Archives with a copy.

            Which are you speaking of?

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          42. You know exactly what I meant. Obama was and is working with the Archive in handling his papers as he should do.

            Those papers were not stored in the closet and denied access for almost 2 years.

            Not hard, Don. If you care about truth. IMO

            Liked by 2 people

          43. Really? What has Obama done? There is no Presidential Library, the documents have not been digitized and put online, nor have they been returned.

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          44. Here, I did you a favor so you at least don’t embarrass yourself with conspiracy news on this.

            “…these records were given to NARA in 2017, upon the end of Obama’s term, and they remain in NARA’s sole custody, in accordance with federal law. Some 30 million documents were moved to a NARA-operated facility in the Chicago area, as the agency explained in a statement Friday, but none were classified. The administration’s classified documents are stored in a separate NARA facility in the Washington, D.C., area.”

            https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-obama-million-documents-929954890662

            See any difference between that and Trump storing top secret documents in his closet and ignoring the Archives’ 20 month effort, including subpoenas, to secure them?

            Liked by 1 person

          45. “There is no Presidential Library,”…

            YET! And TFG won’t even try to build one as most former POTUS’s have. Because a libray full of crap is just an outhose.

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          46. “Remember that Obama took 33 million pages with him.”

            That is an out right lie that was immediately debunked by the National Archives. The Lie was told by Trump and now repeated by you.

            “Not true. Wrong. Deceitful. Garbage.”

            https://tinyurl.com/4mkrfp3u

            Read the masthead. – “A place for civil discussion of the events of the day…” Spreading known falsehoods and slanders generated by criminal racist pigs is not “civil discussion.”

            Liked by 1 person

          1. “Clueless strikes again. Get a job…”

            Another very poor substitute for any actual defense of our scofflaw former President. But, bless your heart, it is clearly the best you can do.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. You can pretend to know something about classified material and insult other people but I know for a fact you are full of shit. Sorry to burst your bubble but eat another donut and pick a different subject.

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    2. Refer again to section 1.7

      A lot of information is classified simply to hide the lawlessness or ineptitude of the bureaucracy.

      So, let’s see just what Trump chose to declassify. Did the FBI seek to re-bury its part in the Russia Collusion Hoax or the fraud on the FISA court?

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      1. Misuse of the classification system to conceal bureaucratic rather than state secrets is an entirely separate subject not relevant to this discussion.

        “So, let’s see just what Trump chose to declassify.”
        Sorry, but that would be nothing. Some blanket tweet or utterance as he walks out the door does not apply to ANY specific document or bit of information. There are laws and procedures to be followed.

        The “Russia Collusion Hoax?”
        Hopelessly childish. It really is time to grow up and face reality.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You are off the deep end tonight.

          The point there is that there is a mot classified for the purpose of concealing inefficiency and incompetence.

          Documents classified for the purpose of covering asses can be declassified at will.

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          1. Well you have questioned whether Trump even knew he had top secret documents. So how can he declassify what he didn’t even know he had after he left Washington on inauguration day?

            The archive had been asking, demanding, subpoenaing for 20 months. If Trump did not care enough for his country to check for the highly classified, restricted access papers, then I think he deserves to be indicted.

            I think he already sold some copies to foreign actors for money and future security for him and his family. Though I might not believe he gives a squat about family either.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Ass covering documents are not a problem. However, sensitive nuclear information is. Not to mention classified information about leaders of foreign countries, allies and foes alike.

            You made statements that EVERYBODY else on the planet is responsible for Trump’s activities. WHen will you FINALLY realize that he is responsible for actions taken on his behalf and by himself. You blame everyone but the one who is TRULY responsible.

            It is YOU who has fallen off the deep end. As I have stated before, YOU believe that the Rule of Law only applies to those you HATE. WHen YOUR TRIBE does it, and are caught, it is because of some BS deep state that is out to get you. Your paranoia and outright hatred has blinded you to any semblance of rationality.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. The Hill article is at best inaccurate. There is no shifting.

            The possibility that documents may have been planted is real, either at the time of the raid, or previously by the “mole.” Because no one was allowed to witness the search we can never know.

            The charge that some of the documents are privileged is not a change in position, it is a new development.

            It is also uncertain when the documents arrived at MAL. Trump worked from there often so it is very possible they were there while he was in office.

            And again, no one has pointed out any document specifically requested, other than the original of the Obama letter, that was not turned over

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          4. “There is no shifting.”

            Who to believe? You, Trump or my lying eyes? In this forum how many days did we waste discussing lies about excessive force, “gestapo tactics” and machinegun-sprouting gunboats? I remember you backing up that bullshit with a file photo of the offshore security boat from a year earlier. In fact, the FBI went out of its way to be unobtrusive. It was Trump who decided to politicize it.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. I am referring to Trump’s statements.

            There have been additions to his statements, but no backtracking.

            For example. today we learned that the FBI took Trump’s passports. There is no indictment or court order to support that, it is pure theft.

            But that only came out today, reporting it today is not shifting.

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          6. “today we learned that the FBI took Trump’s passports. ”

            No Toaday Trump CLAIMED they took his passports. Just like he CLAIMED they did not have a copy of the warrant or receit for material removed.

            DO you even pay attention to anyone but Trump? Trump, who you claim to not like, don’t defend? But if he SAYS ANYTHING it just has to be true. Even when proven to be UNTRUE.

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          7. ” There is no shifting.”

            Maybe SHITTINBG would be more accurate.

            You are just so blinded by YOUR partisanship, you REFUSE to see truth when it slaps you in the face like a small mouth bassa tail.

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  2. “… the material in question may in fact have been declassified properly, despite any markings the copies bore.”

    So, how would a person who has a clearance for secrets, even in his purview, know what he can take home, sell to media, give to Russians, if they are not marked declassified?

    You seem to saying that marked declassified or not makes no difference to anyone? Why not just say that we can divulge anything to anyone by just saying “ I thought my president declassified it”?

    No proof required. Especially if the ex-president is incapacitated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “You seem to saying that marked declassified or not makes no difference to anyone?”

      I am saying that classification markings are not inherently reliable 100% of the time. I have personally witnessed incidents in which unmarked material was discovered to require classification markings and in which old documents held in storage for a long time still retained classification markings even after formal declassification. These things can happen in a variety of ways — as, for example, when someone familiar with classified information inadvertently reproduces it in some form when creating a new work; or, when clerical procedures at a secure facility fall behind or make mistakes.

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        1. Probably by describing the circumstances under which he came into possession of the TS documents. Remember, the prosecutor must be able to show criminal intent in addition to a criminal act.

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          1. If willful, unauthorized possession of top secret material is a crime, why do we need intent?

            The records and documents are not his to keep. He ignored multiple attempts to retrieve them. He has a bevy of lawyers. So ignorance or desires for souvenirs are not enough.

            If you had similar documents, do you think you would be able to ignore requests, demands and subpoenas for 20 months? Even if you worked at the White House and then say the president said they were declassified, but not marked as such?

            In your case you better have more than “I thought…” in your defense.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “If willful, unauthorized possession of top secret material is a crime, why do we need intent?”

            Willfulness IS intent.

            RE: “The records and documents are not his to keep.”

            That remains to be established.

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          3. Remains to be established?

            It is against the law for a president to withhold presidential records from the National Archive.

            Or to destroy them. Or flush them. (Is that a Trump dump instead of dump Trump?😇)

            Been that way for decades.

            Liked by 2 people

          4. RE: “It is against the law for a president to withhold presidential records from the National Archive.”

            It remains to be established that Trump did so.

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          5. The Archive has been trying for 20 months. Then Trump lied about turning over all the documents marked classified.

            You really think the Archive and the courts issueing the supboenas lied?

            Liked by 2 people

          6. Not every piece of paper handled by the President is a Presidential Record,

            Do Trump’s birthday cards to Melania belong to the National Archives?

            How about Obama’s letter to Trump?

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          7. “It remains to be established that Trump did so.”

            Uh, no. That has been established. In case you missed it, federal agents went to his house and there they were in the basement.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. RE: “In case you missed it, federal agents went to his house and there they were in the basement.”

            Yes. Federal agents had been to the exact same spot in June, apparently at their request, and subsequently demanded a bigger lock on the door. Hard to see how Trump was “witholding” anything from anyone. Quite the opposite, in fact. So yes, it remains to be established that Trump broke the law.

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          9. Perhaps ignoring requests, demands, subpoenas and then signing a false document saying you turned over all the records when you didn’t might not be in your best interest then.

            That is the case here.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. I recently read an article about a man whose Jewish grandfather went to the West Wall every day to pray for over 50 years. The man asked his grandfather, “what do you pray for.” The grandfather replied, “I pray for world peace, that people everywhere would stop the killing and live in harmony.” The man asked, “Do you feel your prayers are being answered?” The grandfather replied, “I feel like I’ve been talking to a wall.”

    That’s me. I feel like I’ve been talking to a wall, so this is the last time I will speak.

    There is one classification system that can be controlled by Presidents.

    There is also another system of law, established by the Atomic Energy Act, that gives the Department of Energy the SOLE authority to restrict and un-restrict access to documents pertaining to all things nuclear. Presidents can not do that.

    THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING! THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES!

    Trump could have declassified everything in the US government but he could not remove the restrictions on documents pertaining to nuclear weapons. By law, only the Department of Energy could do that.

    And even if Trump could remove ALL restrictions on nuclear documents (which he can’t), why would he? And if he did (which he didn’t), that means information on how to build nuclear weapons has been made available to everybody in the world… including Iran, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and, most scary of all, Cliven Bundy.

    You seem very worried that Trump may be in trouble, but not at all concerned that foreign enemies may have gained access to information on nuclear weapons. So let me spare you the trouble of commenting on this. I’ll do it for you: WHO CARES?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Trump could have declassified everything in the US government but he could not remove the restrictions on documents pertaining to nuclear weapons.”

      I have seen this speculation debunked in a number of ways. One is that nuclear materials are covered by Executive Order 13526. Consequently, the “restricted” status DOE applies is merely a formality to place the materials under the security requirements elaborated in 13526. There are documents pertaining to nuclear technology that pose no threat to national security, so requiring DOE to apply restricted status to those that do is a way of keeping benign information from being suppressed.

      More generally, Congress has no power to constrain the powers the Constitution gives to the Executive. The Executive powers are “plenary” in this sense, meaning that they are absolute. So, under the “plenary theory,” it can be said that the president remains a king of sorts over the Executive agencies such as the DOE.

      I’m not sure whether either of these theories ever has been litigated. It will be interesting to see what happens if they are.

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      1. What you are suggesting is that Congress can pass any law it wants, but the president can ignore them.

        His job is to execute the laws the people pass in Congress.

        His powers are not absolute. He can’t appoint a cabinet without congressional oversight. He has to replace his fired Secretaries within a specific period of time. (Trump tried with some unfortunate success to fill his cabinet with “acting Secretaries that did his bidding without oversight.)

        Executive orders can be challenged in court, and have been, often successfully. Many presidents have been through that wringer. If his powers are absolute, that couldn’t happen.

        The AEA is pretty firm about our nuclear secrets and declassifying them. The people say so through Congress.

        So far, the best protection Trump has is the threat of political violence, even some kind of civil war, by his most loyal followers. Otherwise, in my opinion, he would have been arraigned a long time ago. Unfortunately for Trump, and many possible innocent victims, he has pushed his lifelong hubris too far. The strength of our system is being tested, and we’ll see if it holds.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “What you are suggesting is that Congress can pass any law it wants, but the president can ignore them.”

          Yes, that’s basically the theory of the “unitary executive,” which I support. The counterbalancing power in the legislative branch is impeachment.

          RE: “The AEA is pretty firm about our nuclear secrets and declassifying them.”

          So what? The DEA is not an intelligence agency and therefore is unqualified to judge the national security implications of materials it restricts.

          RE: “The strength of our system is being tested, and we’ll see if it holds.”

          Maybe so. If it turns out DOJ and the FBI are corrupt, there will be lots of work to do to reform them.

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          1. Calling the DOJ and FBI corrupt at this point is simply a dodge to PREVENT YOU and YOUR TRIBE from admitting that it is TRUMP who is THE MOST CORRUPT PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY. Nixon and haring are relieved to give up their co-crowns to one with Orange hair and no morals or scruples.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. It is not the DEA, it is the AEA, Atomic Energy Act, a law passed by Congress.

            Regarding the DOJ, it was never as corrupt as it was under Trump who was looking at the AG as his personal lawyer. His attempt to appoint Jeff Clark so he could send phony letters to state legislatures about the DOJ finding substantial fraud, which it never did at all, is pretty indicative of the ex-president’s thinking.

            Durham spend untold millions and many years trying to find corruption in the FBI and came up with zilch.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. RE: “It is not the DEA, it is the AEA, Atomic Energy Act, a law passed by Congress.”

            Sorry. Still, the DOE is the enforcement agency, no? Again, the DOE is not an intelligence agency. Hence the need to bring “restricted” nuclear information under the protections of EO 13526 and, specifically, the president.

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        2. The Constitution requires the President to execute the laws passed by Congress, but not when those laws violate the Constitution.

          Congress cannot tell the President how to carry out his duties. That would violate the powers of the Executive Branch. Congress could not, for example, require that the Sect of Education have green eyes to limit the President’s choices.

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          1. “…but not when those laws violate the Constitution.”

            And then we go to court. That is what checks and balances are all about. Saying that the president has plenary powers across the board is not correct.

            But we have both agreed in the past that Congressional policy has been to issue broad policies and left the details, no matter how sweeping, up to the Executive.

            Using your example, Congress cannot pass a bill, and the president decides that green eyes disqualify the affected. But that is what happens.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Not the way it works.

            Congress passes a law saying the President must choose a Sect of Education with green eyes.

            The President ignores it because it infringes on his authority.

            Congress must now decide if it wants to go to court to compel a green eyed appointee. If they don’t, the matter is settled without anyone going to court.

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          3. Don, that is using the court. If they mull it over and decide they may not have a case, so be it. But the court is the “decider”, (thank Bush the Junior) if there is still a controversy.

            If I sued you, you’d get an attorney to see if I have a case or not. Or to settle. But none of this means squat unless there is the threat of litigation and a courtroom.

            (In my view, BTW, that is the part of our jurisprudence that is both unfair and abused. Not so much by Congress and the president as among the rest of us. Big money always wins. If not in court, then by driving costs through the roof for the average litigant. The scales of justice stacks cash on both sides. He who has the most, wins.)

            Liked by 2 people

          4. Not the point.

            If Congress passes the green eyes law, the President does not have to sue to ignore it. He just does, and they have to decide if they want to sue to force him.

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          5. And that is using the court. If Congress feels they have a case, they sue. If the president disagrees, he defends. If he feels he has a weak case, he capitulates. Or, the other option is to defend, appeal, defend some more, appeal some more and so on. Run out the clock or a change in regime and/or Congress. Not justice by any stretch.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. RE: “Saying that the president has plenary powers across the board is not correct.”

            No one said that. The president has plenary powers and they are absolute, but they are not “across the board.”

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  4. Simply put, your source is a Trump Loving Drooling Jackass.

    Starting off with I don’t support his… Tells me that you use people you don’t even truly believe to advance WHAT you believe, factual, counterfactual, outright lies, or 100% BUKKSHIT!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “you use people you don’t even truly believe”

      Is that a fact? As I wrote, EO 13526, which is quoted and linked in the article, is especially important for understanding classification policies and procedures.

      Besides, the writer’s theory that Trump broke no laws may be proved correct. I just think it is too soon to know.

      Like

      1. You can quote all you want. But you also have an interesting habit of misinterpreting what you read. Or read it through the lens of proving your point, even when it is WRONG.

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  5. Interesting side note is that the Freedom Caucus was supposed to hold a press conference yesterday to rail against the “Gestapo tactics” against their man.

    It was scrubbed. More than a few Republicans, mostly the sane ones, are keeping quiet after the FBI has been attacked and threatened and that Top Secret/SCI documents were in Trump’s home.

    This may be just a temporary retreat, but a significant one since the GOP has not missed an opportunity to worship the ex-president as the Second Coming.

    I am willing to bet that there are a lot of Republicans that would just as soon Trump go away so they can run on policy rather than the 2020 election lies. This might be the opportunity. National security and the men in blue are big talking points for the right.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. From Executive Order 13526:

    “Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations. (a) In no case shall
    information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail
    to be declassified in order to:

    “(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
    (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
    (3) restrain competition; or
    (4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.”

    If you parse this language carefully you’ll see that a classified document automatically becomes declassified when it meets any of the four requirements. No action is required.

    Like it or not, this may be the basis for Trump and his lawyers claiming that none of the materials at Mar a Largo were classified. In no case could they fail to be declassified if any of the four criteria are true.

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    1. “If you parse this language carefully you’ll see that a classified document automatically becomes declassified when it meets any of the four requirements. No action is required.”

      Uh, just about backwards.

      This language is in an active voice. “In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to:…” There is implied someone doing the classification, deciding to maintain it, or deciding not to declassify it.

      The declassification of such materials requires ACTION. There is nothing about it that is automatic. In fact, if you apply a little common sense, the very idea that classifications are changed automatically would be impossible to administer. Some accountable person has to apply those criteria and ACT on them.

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    2. RE: “The declassification of such materials requires ACTION. There is nothing about it that is automatic.”

      As I wrote in the original post that started this thread: “marking the material does not in itself make it classified. Classification is performed by a classification authority. The markings merely indicate that a classification authority has reviewed the material and determined the nature of its content. The process here is similar to grading eggs for sale at the supermarket. The eggs themselves are not altered in any way and an ungraded egg may well, on inspection, be found to belong to one of the three graded classifications.”

      Information does not require classification markings to be considered “classified” or sensitive for national security reasons. Similarly, information that bears classification markings is not necessarily classified.

      Information that loses its classification due to Section 1.7 of EO 13526 may be reclassified, but until that happens it remains unclassified. That’s what it means to say, “In no case could they fail to be declassified if any of the four criteria are true.”

      Like

    3. If any of those documents that Trump refused to turn over to the Archive had incriminating information about his various cases, like the Mueller Report, he would have put them on FOX as quickly as he could. So chances are very good none of them fit the 4 causes for declassification.

      Liked by 2 people

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