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David French: I Cannot Support Such a Thuggish Cad as Ron DeSantis. I'm a Mike Pence Man, Through and Through! | Main | Quick Hits
August 18, 2022

In 2012, Hyperpartisan Liberal Judge Amy Jackson Brennan Ruled That President Clinton Had Far-Reaching Discretion to Decide Which of His Documents Were Personal Records, and Which Were Official Records

If this sounds as if it is potent precedent which will avail Trump greatly, stop dreaming; this is a Democrat-Only Rule. Judge Brennan will have no problem at all deciding that this doesn't apply to Trump, citing the case of BecuzISedSo vs. Nunya Business.

The main thrust of the ruling is not relevant to Trump's case. But...

But Jackson's ruling -- along with the Justice Department's arguments that preceded it -- made some other sweeping declarations that have more direct relevance to the FBI's decision to seize handwritten notes and files Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago. The most relevant is that a president's discretion on what are personal vs. official records is far-reaching and solely his, as is his ability to declassify or destroy records at will.

"Under the statutory scheme established by the PRA, the decision to segregate personal materials from Presidential records is made by the President, during the President's term and in his sole discretion," Jackson wrote in her March 2012 decision, which was never appealed.

"Since the President is completely entrusted with the management and even the disposal of Presidential records during his time in office, it would be difficult for this Court to conclude that Congress intended that he would have less authority to do what he pleases with what he considers to be his personal records," she added.

Many of the documents seized by the government are things like Trump making a note on a napkin or making note on a copy of the page of a briefing book, which the government is claiming is an "official record."

But obviously these can also be seen as personal records.

And Amy Brennan Jackson ruled, when a Democrat she voted for was being sued, that the president had the "sole discretion" to categorize the two.

And she went further still.

The judge noted a president could destroy any record he wanted during his tenure and his only responsibility was to inform the Archives.

More:

...

Jackson also concluded that a decision to challenge a president's decision lies solely with the National Archives and can't be reviewed by a court. If the Archives wants to challenge a decision, that agency and the attorney general can initiate an enforcement mechanism under the law, but it is a civil procedure and has no criminal penalty, she noted.

I've heard it explained that this is a civil action -- they're just using the criminal remedy of a criminal search warrant as a remedy.

Which is... odd.

And, of course:

On the classification issue, both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama signed executive orders -- which remain in force to this day -- declaring that presidents have sweeping authority to declassify secrets and do not have to follow the mandatory declassification procedures all other government officials do.



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posted by Ace at 05:07 PM

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