On October 6, 2020, Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted all documents related to the various Russia investigations and everything Hillary Clinton has ever done to be total declassified, "No redactions!"
This is a pretty bold demand. Even if Trump is correct about the elaborately nonsensical conspiracy against him, there are sometimes valid reasons for documents to be classified, and exposing all of these documents — which is undoubtedly a lot! — could inadvertently reveal some other information that the government might not want out there (including some personal details for various people that probably shouldn't be out there, for purposes of safety).
Still, the Authoritarian-In-Chief demanded it. So Buzzfeed News submitted a FOIA request for all of the documents, since they're fair game. And when they were denied those documents, they took the case to court, where White House lawyers argued that the President's tweets are not meant to be taken literally except for when they are, which is sometimes. (They're essentially arguing that the official capacity of Trump's tweets follow the same you-know-it-when-you-see-it criteria as pornography, which is, erm, kind of odd.)
Here's what happened on Friday, October 16:
During an extraordinary 30-minute hearing Friday morning, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton rejected a government attorney's assertion that Trump's Oct. 6 tweets were "ambiguous" and should not be interpreted as orders to declassify anything specific.
Matt Topic, an attorney representing BuzzFeed News, disagreed. He told Walton there can't be anything more clear than Trump's tweet that called for the release of every document from the Russia probe without any redactions.
Walton also disagreed with the government's stance. He said Trump's tweets in which the president stated he has "fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining" to the Russia investigation are "unambiguous" and clearly indicated what his intent was.
"I don't think anything more is required," Walton said.
The Judge has given the White House lawyers and Department of Justice until Wednesday, October 21 to determine whether or not Trump's unambiguous tweets were, in fact, as unambiguous as they were.
A Federal Judge Wants To Know If Trump Means What He Tweets [Jason Leopold / Buzzfeed News]
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