Old Case Involving Bill Clinton Could Have Major Impact on Mar-a-Lago Raid
We’ve seen folks in the media and on the left say all kinds of things about President Donald Trump regarding the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago home. We also saw Attorney General Merrick Garland act as though the FBI was the victim because they made an unprecedented move that screams of politics. But then Garland moved to block the unsealing of the affidavit for the warrant for the raid. He still has refused to explain why they conducted their raid when they did.
We’ve said there’s a big difference in the way that they’re treating Trump versus the way that they treated Hillary Clinton, who had a whole private server to avoid review, who destroyed emails, and whose people destroyed Blackberrys. She was never raided. She wasn’t prosecuted despite having classified documents on her server.
But it turns out that there’s another important comparison to show the difference in treatment that’s going on here — a comparison to Bill Clinton.
Clinton made audio tapes with historian Taylor Branch during his presidency and for a period of time, they were even kept in his sock drawer.
Branch recorded seventy-nine audiotapes that “preserved not only President Clinton’s thoughts and commentary on contemporaneous events and issues he was facing as president, but, in some instances, recorded actual events such as presidential telephone conversations.
Judicial Watch sued to have the tapes included in the National Archives.
But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled there was no provision in the Presidential Records Act to force the National Archives to seize records from a former president. What’s interesting about the case is what it says in regard to a president’s sweeping power over records.
But Jackson’s ruling — along with the Justice Department’s arguments that preceded it — made some other sweeping declarations that have more direct relevance to the FBI’s decision to seize handwritten notes and files Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago. The most relevant is that a president’s discretion on what are personal vs. official records is far-reaching and solely his, as is his ability to declassify or destroy records at will.
“Under the statutory scheme established by the PRA, the decision to segregate personal materials from Presidential records is made by the President, during the President’s term and in his sole discretion,” Jackson wrote in her March 2012 decision, which was never appealed.
“Since the President is completely entrusted with the management and even the disposal of Presidential records during his time in office, it would be difficult for this Court to conclude that Congress intended that he would have less authority to do what he pleases with what he considers to be his personal records,” she added.
The judge also noted it would be wrong to seize the tapes from Clinton, that it was an “extraordinary request” that was “unfounded, contrary to the PRA’s express terms, and contrary to traditional principles of administrative law. The Court agrees.”
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