Political Scandals

Report: New evidence shows Trump knew about declassification process

Records containing "evidence that would be important to the grand jury's investigation" will be handed over next week, according to CNN.

Report: New evidence shows Trump knew about declassification process
Evan Vucci / AP

There’s a possible hole in former President Donald Trump's defense in the investigation into classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

New evidence shows Trump and his team received guidance on the correct way to declassify the records but may not have followed those rules, according to a report from CNN.

According to the report, the National Archives are set to hand over 16 records to special counsel Jack Smith that show communication from the Archives detailing for Trump and his advisers when, why and how documents could be declassified.

The communication was apparently sent while Trump was still in office.

Smith is leading the Justice Department investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified documents found at Trump's Florida estate last year. Just last month, Trump's lawyers called the investigation "severely botched" and "politically infected" and urged the House Intelligence Committee to intervene to rectify classified document handling procedures in the White House and establish standardized procedures for departing presidents and vice presidents.

Documents seized during the Aug. 8 FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

Testimony: Every administration since Reagan mishandled documents

Classified documents were found at former President Trump's estate, but testimony revealed that presidential record-keeping has long been an issue.


During last week's CNN town hall, Trump claimed the documents were automatically declassified when they were removed from the White House; however, according to a letter received by CNN from Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall, Trump tried to block the special counsel from accessing the 16 records that prove otherwise by asserting a claim of "constitutionally based privilege."

Wall also states in the letter that the 16 records "contain evidence that would be important to the grand jury’s investigation," and the records will be handed over on May 24 "unless prohibited by an intervening court order."

The news comes as one of Donald Trump's key lawyers, Timothy Parlatore, announced his resignation from the Trump legal team.

While Parlatore has consistently criticized the investigation as misguided and overly aggressive, he emphasized this decision was completely unrelated to Trump and was not a reflection on his view of the Justice Department’s investigation.

The National Archives is not releasing the letter to other media outlets, and has no comment on the matter at this time, an Archives spokesperson told Scripps News. 

Scripps News has reached out to Trump’s attorney handling this case for comment but has yet to hear back.