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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.

Background:

  • 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

Nov 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump adviser leading election legal fight tests positive for COVID-19

David Bossie joins President Trump's motorcade in May 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

David Bossie, one of President Trump's outside advisers, has tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the president's election night party last week, sources familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Bossie is helping the Trump campaign lead a barrage of lawsuits to contest the outcome of the 2020 election, as the president continues to spread unsubstantiated allegations that widespread voter fraud and mail-in ballot irregularities stole the election from him.

26 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”