By Jack Phillips
President Joe Biden issued a response to assertions made by former President Donald Trump and his team that he declassified materials that were taken to Mar-a-Lago, which were the apparent subject of an FBI raid earlier this month.
Trump’s team and former aide Kash Patel have said that while president, Trump had a standing order to declassify material that was taken from the Oval Office to Mar-a-Lago.
“He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified,” Trump’s office told news outlets in a statement issued in mid-August. “The power to classify and declassify documents rests solely with the President of the United States. The idea that some paper-pushing bureaucrat, with classification authority delegated BY THE PRESIDENT, needs to approve of declassification is absurd.”
On his final day in office on Jan. 19, 2021, Trump issued an order declassifying some material relating to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Neither the Department of Justice nor the FBI has said what the Aug. 8 raid was targeting or whether it was related to those documents.
A reporter asked Biden on Aug. 26 whether Trump could issue such an order as the president was departing for another vacation to his home in Delaware.
“Could he have just declassified them all?” the reporter asked Biden, who declined to comment on the case but appeared to mock Trump’s statements about declassifying materials.
“I’ve declassified everything in the world. I’m president. I can do it all. Come on! Declassified everything,” Biden said sarcastically in response, adding, “I’m not gonna comment because I don’t know the details. I don’t even want to know. Let the Justice Department take care of it.”
Both Biden and White House staff have said the administration had no knowledge of the FBI raid beforehand. Republicans say, however, that it’s unlikely they did not.
It came as the Justice Department on Friday released a heavily redacted version of the affidavit that was submitted to obtain the FBI raid warrant. Around 20 of the 32 pages of the legal document are partially or fully redacted, which drew criticism from Trump and Republicans for revealing few new details about what the FBI was investigating, what the agents took, and the justification used for the raid.
In the affidavit, prosecutors alleged there was “probable cause” to search Trump’s property because of “classified ND and presidential records” that remain on the premises. “Accordingly, this affidavit seeks authorization to search the ’45 Office’ and all storage rooms and any other rooms or locations where boxes or records may be stored within the PREMISES,” the legal document said.