Donald Trump Might Have a Problem: The former White House chief of staff appears to have provided vital information about Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, for which he has been indicted in Florida.
Donald Trump Dramashow: Act 1231,343,423
Mark Meadows, who at the end of the Trump presidency was the White House chief of staff, was among those indicted in Georgia as part of the case involving the ex-president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election result in that state. But before that, Meadows had testified in another criminal probe of his former boss.
According to ABC News, when he testified in the case involving Trump’s handling of classified documents, Meadows stated that he could not recall Trump ever de-classifying the documents in question in the case. Part of Trump’s defense in the case is that he de-classifying all of them before leaving office, but that defense has always been dubious.
“Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has told special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators that he could not recall Trump ever ordering, or even discussing, declassifying broad sets of classified materials before leaving the White House, nor was he aware of any ‘standing order’ from Trump authorizing the automatic declassification of materials taken out of the Oval Office,” ABC News said citing sources familiar with the matter.
Vice President Mike Pence has made similar comments recently, about not remembering Trump de-classifying documents.
“I was never made aware of any broad-based effort to declassify documents,” Pence said on ABC News over the weekend.
In addition, the outlet obtained an early draft of Meadows’ 2021 memoir, “The Chief’s Chief,” which stated that Trump kept classified war plans “on the couch” at his club in Bedminster, N.J., although the reference was removed from the finished book. A recording in which Trump boasted of such documents to Meadows’ ghostwriters is expected to serve as a key piece of evidence against the former president in that case.
ABC also reported that Meadows offered to help Trump sift through his boxes to “retrieve the official records,” but that the former president did not accept his offer.
While it had been known that Meadows testified in the documents case, it remains unclear whether he has reached a formal cooperation agreement with prosecutors. That likely would not have prevented Meadows’ indictment in Georgia, in a separate case in a separate jurisdiction.
Per CNN, Meadows has asked a federal court to dismiss his charges in Georgia, since they apply to work he did while an employee of the federal government. Meadows had earlier asked to move the Georgia case to federal court.
Meadows “argues he should have immunity from the state’s 2020 election interference criminal case because he was carrying out his duties as a federal official working for then-President Donald Trump. The filing argues that his actions arose only because he was serving Trump as a close White House adviser,” according to CNN.
The story also said that Meadows’ attorneys have “cut off contact” with Trump’s legal team. However, Trump is expected to make a similar push, to move his Georgia charges to federal court. Trump had made a similar attempt to move his New York criminal case to federal court but was rejected.
“Unlike his pals Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, he managed to blow off Congress without getting cited for contempt,” the legal blog Above the Law said of Meadows. “He managed to avoid getting charged with vote fraud, despite being registered to vote at a vacation rental he never lived in. And he wasn’t named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Donald Trump’s federal indictment for election interference, despite the central role the chief of staff played in organizing both the fake electors scheme and the riot itself… But last week, Meadows’s luck ran out, when Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged him with violating Georgia’s RICO act and soliciting a public officer to violate his oath.”