Trump's tweets on declassifying Russia probe documents haven't declassified those documents, DOJ says
Posted October 13, 2020 6:38 p.m. EDT
CNN — Recent tweets from President Donald Trump pledging to "fully authorize" the declassification of Russia investigation records won't declassify records from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the Justice Department said on Tuesday, undercutting the President's public announcement.
"The Twitter statements do not constitute a self-executing declassification order," lawyers for the Justice Department wrote in a court document filed on Tuesday. "The President's Twitter statements do not require the declassification of any particular documents and have not resulted in the declassification" of FBI memos from the Mueller investigation.
The Justice Department calls the President's tweets "ambiguous Twitter statements," according to the filing.
In a spate of tweets on the night of October 6, the President said, "I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!"
He later added, "All Russia Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our Country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our Country. Act!!!"
The issue of whether Trump's recent tweets declassified Russia investigation documents arose in lawsuits -- including from CNN and BuzzFeed News -- that seek public records related to the investigation.
The department further stated that it never received an order from the President to declassify documents sought in the lawsuits. Attorney General William Barr also hasn't ordered the declassification of records that CNN and BuzzFeed are seeking because of the President's tweets, he added.
The Justice Department even checked with the White House about what to do following Trump's tweets.
"After the President issued his statements on Twitter, I and other Department officials consulted with the White House Counsel's Office about the matters discussed in those statements, including potential declassification of documents related to the Russia Investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails," Bradley Weinsheimer of the Justice Department wrote in a sworn affidavit on Tuesday.
"The White House Counsel's Office informed the Department that there is no order requiring wholesale declassification or disclosure of documents at issue in this matter. The Department was further information that the President's statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification of any particular documents."