Oct 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Meadows confirms Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents were false

Picture of Mark Meadows wearing a mask in Amy Coney Barrett's hearings

Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the disclosure of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails "were not self-executing declassification orders," after a federal judge demanded that Trump be asked about his intentions.

Why it matters: BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold cited the tweets in an emergency motion seeking to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. This is the first time Trump himself has indicated, according to Meadows, that his tweets are not official directives.


  • Trump tweeted on Oct. 6: "I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!"
  • Later that night, he tweeted: "All Russia Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our Country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our Country. Act!!!"

The big picture: Last week, attorneys for the Department of Justice argued in court that Trump's tweets should not be considered real declassification orders. But on Friday, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he "can’t rely" on the White House counsel’s office position and ordered that Trump be asked about the intent of his tweets, according to the National Law Journal.

What he's saying: "The President indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification or release of any particular documents," Meadows said in a court filing. "The President's statements do not require altering any redactions on any record at issue in these or any other cases."

Read the filing.

Go deeper