Typically, when someone gains access to restricted information, it is “read” – a process that involves initially signing documents in which they acknowledge legal requirements not to share information about sensitive software with unauthorized people or to keep confidential documents in an unauthorized form . Places. When they leave these jobs, they are “read” again, acknowledging in writing their legal responsibilities and declaring that they do not have any confidential documents in their possession.
David Price, a former CIA officer who is now the publisher of Lawfare, a national security website and podcast producer, said presidents aren’t read from secret programs when they leave office. This is, he said, “because presidents are not formally read.”
Said Press: There is a myth that presidents have an official security clearance. They don’t do that.”
By virtue of his election as president by the American people, Bryce said, “The Commander-in-Chief has the power to classify or declassify documents.” “The former president may obtain access to limited classified material after leaving office to assist with the writing of memos or at the discretion of the incumbent, but does not include a formal security clearance.”
In previous cases of secret abuse involving persons other than superiors, official papers for reading in and out of confidential matters were an important part of the investigation. When retired general and ex-CIA director David Petraeus pleaded guilty in 2015 on a misdemeanor charge of mishandling confidential information, For example, court papers stated that He had repeatedly signed documents stating that he would not share or improperly keep classified material.
Petraeus has signed at least 14 such non-disclosure agreements during his career in military and intelligence work, including a declaration in 2006 that he would “return all material that I may be in my possession or for which I am responsible because of this access., based on requested by an authorized representative of the United States Government or upon completion of my employment or other relationship with the United States Government.”
That same ad says Petraeus understood that if he did not return such material upon request, it could be a violation of the Espionage Act — the same section of the criminal code mentioned in the FBI search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month. .
In 2012, when Petraeus left the CIA, he signed a document declaring, “I assure me that no classified material is in my possession, custody or control at this time.” This document later became part of the case against him.
But Trump, like his predecessors, does not appear to have signed such papers, which may have legal significance for how prosecutors view his case.
The Trump investigation emerged from a controversy over which the National Archives were repeated pressure The former president to submit materials that were considered government property under the Presidential Records Act. In the end, Trump’s advisers handed over 15 boxes of material, including, the agency said, more than 100 classified documents, some of them top secret.
The return of those boxes from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in January set off alarm bells in the government that the former president or his aides mishandled them and kept large amounts of sensitive national defense information. But Trump’s position as a former president means that the criminal investigation, by necessity, may end up focusing more on what Trump did beginning in May, when he received a grand jury subpoena on any remaining classified material, rather than his actions regarding the delivered items. More in January.
Experts have said that if Trump does not fully comply with the subpoena, he could face legal risk Regardless of whether he was read from secret programs when he left office.
“This is yet another reason why the criminal investigation and prosecution of a former president has complications,” said Brandon Van Grack, a private practice attorney who previously worked on confidentiality abuse cases when he was a federal prosecutor. “What highlights is that the criminal case focuses on what happened after May, not on what happened before that.”
A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on how the apparent lack of reading or reading of Trump might affect prosecutors’ legal analysis of the facts in the Trump case.
Trump’s onetime chief of staff, John F. Kelly, who said he did not like classification rules and did not trust intelligence officials, said government officials should have given the 45th president some kind of debriefing on classified matters and documents when he left the White House.
“It was important that we read it because some hope it might not have violated all of these rules on classified material. The important message would be, ‘Once you become president, all the rules will apply to you,’” Kelly said.
A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on whether the former president had received any kind of briefing about the exit About classified material. Trump has criticized the FBI for searching his home, and his defenders have claimed that he declassified materials he took with him before leaving office — though no evidence has been made public that he went through the process to do so.
On Monday, Trump’s lawyers filed court papers seeking to appoint a special master to review material seized in August’s research — a strange request given that such appointments are generally made to deal with issues of attorney-client privilege, not confidential information, and that request did not come. It was only after two weeks of searching, which means that law enforcement officials had actually reviewed the seized material for an extended period of time.
A federal judge in Florida who received that request asked Trump’s legal team to explain why it was filed, and gave lawyers a deadline Friday to respond.
Abuse of national security materials isn’t the only crime being investigated in the Mar-a-Lago investigation, and Trump’s status as a former president may not reduce his legal risks for the two other potential criminal charges listed in the search warrant: destroying records and concealing or misrepresenting government materials.
still, Ashley Dix, a law professor at the University of Virginia who was until recently the deputy legal counsel for the National Security Council, said laws and practices regarding classified information put the president in a somewhat unique position.
“Since the president himself is the ultimate rating authority, it makes sense that agencies should not formally read presidents in classified programs,” Dix said. “With respect to former presidents, Congress itself has recognized in law that former presidents can still have access to at least some of their records, although Congress has also made clear that former presidents do not personally possess these records.”
. “Proud zombie lover. Evil pop culture buff. Amateur thinker. Total food practitioner. Tv evangelist.”