Donald Trump’s chief of staff said Tuesday that the president told him his two tweets calling for the declassification of all documents related to the Russia investigation meant something entirely different.
Mark Meadows signed a sworn declaration that was submitted to the US District Court for the District of Columbia in response to legal challenges by BuzzFeed News, based on Trump’s Oct. 6 tweets, seeking the release of thousands of pages of records from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Meadows said Trump’s tweets were related to “authorization he had provided” to Attorney General Bill Barr to declassify documents on the genesis of the Russia probe. Meadows described the records as pertaining to “intelligence activities relating to the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters.”
Meadows declared: “The president indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification release of any particular documents,” including documents that BuzzFeed News has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for.
Last week, US District Court Judge Reggie Walton ordered the government to obtain a declaration from Trump or someone who would speak directly with the president to get the meaning behind his tweets and intent.
In one tweet, the president stated he has “fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining” to the Russia investigation without redactions.
The matter came before Walton after BuzzFeed News filed two emergency motions seeking the immediate release of Russia-related documents in response to Trump’s tweets.
The Justice Department has argued that the tweets are “ambiguous”are and not declassification orders and don’t require the disclosure of any additional documents in BuzzFeed News’ ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuits related to former special counsel Mueller’s investigation.