Mar-a-Lago

12 Dec , 2022

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On August 8, 2022, a new chapter was written in the history of American law enforcement when the FBI executed a search warrant at the Florida residence of the 45th President of the United States in an effort to recover classified national security documents with which Donald Trump had absconded when he left office in January 2021.

This unprecedented law enforcement action has dominated the headlines and the former president has not been reticent about joining the debate. Among the statements, claims and complaints he has issued since the search was executed is his insistence that the documents found at Mar-a-Lago all had been declassified because he had “a standing order” during his presidency that “documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.” Later, he insisted that he could “declassify” information without adhering to any established protocols simply by “thinking about it.”

This course will examine the legal framework applicable to the protection of national security information, the basics of the classification process currently used to safeguard that information, the specific criteria applicable to the classified materials seized at Mar-a-Lago, and the impact on national security, and more particularly on intelligence sources and methods, if national security information could be declassified by ad hoc, undocumented action – even by a president.

 

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