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Presidential Power to Declassify Information, Explained

The New York Times – “While it is legally irrelevant, former President Donald J. Trump claims he had declassified the top secret files the F.B.I. seized at his Florida residence. Former President Donald Trump’s claim that he had declassified all of the documents that the FBI seized in the search of his Florida home last week — including those marked as top secret — has heightened interest in the scope of a president’s power to declassify information. On Friday, Trump’s office claimed that when he was president, he had a “standing order” that materials “removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them,” according to a statement read on Fox News by a right-wing writer Trump has designated as one of his representatives to the National Archives. Apart from whether there is any evidence that such an order actually existed, the notion has been greeted with disdain by national security legal specialists. Glenn S. Gerstell, the top lawyer for the National Security Agency from 2015 to 2020, pronounced the idea that whatever Trump happened to take upstairs each evening automatically became declassified — without logging what it was and notifying the agencies that used that information — “preposterous.”…

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