Former Chief of Staff to Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, could have dealt a significant blow to Trump’s defense in the federal classified documents case. According to sources, Meadows informed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office that he had no recollection of Trump attempting to declassify sensitive materials before leaving office. Meadows also denied knowledge of any presidential order for automatic declassification of such documents removed from the White House. Trump faces 40 charges related to retaining classified documents after his presidency and obstructing their retrieval.
Trump has consistently denied wrongdoing, including his claim of declassifying documents retrieved by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago resort. An audio tape surfaced in June where Trump discussed having a “highly confidential” Pentagon paper but acknowledged he could no longer declassify it.
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Meadows’ reported statement undermines Trump’s defense. A former U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, noted that this testimony, along with Trump’s audio tape, weakens Trump’s assertion of telepathic declassification abilities. Meadows’ proximity to Trump makes him a crucial witness, as he can provide insights into Trump’s actions and thoughts.
Meadows is a central figure in investigations into Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. He is among 19 suspects, including Trump, charged in Georgia’s election interference probe by District Attorney Fani Willis. While not implicated as a co-conspirator in the January 6 indictment, suspicions arise that Meadows may have cooperated against Trump in the federal case. However, Bharara suggests that being charged in one case but not the other doesn’t necessarily indicate cooperation.
This development adds complexity to Trump’s legal challenges and raises questions about potential shifts in legal strategies.