Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reportedly informed special counsel investigators led by Jack Smith that he couldn’t that he could not recall Trump ever ordering, or even discussing, declassifying broad sets of classified materials prior to leaving the White House, nor was he aware of any “standing order” from Trump authorizing the automatic declassification of materials taken out of the Oval Office.
Meadows’s revelation contradicts Trump’s public assertion that he had declassified all documents before his departure.
The charges against Trump have expanded to encompass claims involving the handling of surveillance footage and other allegations linked to his time as president. Contrary to Trump’s insistence that he had declassified all materials from his Mar-a-Lago estate following the FBI’s confiscation of over 100 classified documents in August of the previous year, Meadows told investigators that he had no memory of such declassification actions, according to sources familiar with the matter, ABC News reported Sunday.
Trump is currently facing multiple criminal charges, including charges related to the retention of national defense information and various obstruction-related offenses concerning his possession of the confiscated documents. He has entered a not guilty plea to all charges and maintains his innocence.
Meadows’ book, titled “The Chief’s Chief,” which chronicles his time as Trump’s chief of staff during the final months of his presidency, apparently contained references to classified documents. One draft of the book mentioned a classified war plan present during a meeting at Trump’s New Jersey office, but this reference was removed before publication. Meadows reportedly told investigators that he was not involved in the packing of boxes taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after Trump’s departure. He offered to retrieve official documents from those boxes upon the National Archives’ request, but Trump declined his offer, sources said.
The investigation into Trump’s classified documents at Mar-a-Lago led to statements from Trump’s team suggesting that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to his residence were automatically declassified. Meadows reportedly acknowledged the term “standing order” being used during his time in the White House, but not in the context of the declassification process.
While Meadows recalls only one instance of Trump declassifying documents, relating to materials from the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, the authenticity of these claims remains in dispute. Despite his silence on the classified documents investigation, Meadows’ involvement in Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia has been the subject of investigation.
The potential contradictions between Meadows’ statements and Trump’s claims may be significant in court, should Trump’s defense take such a route. Nevertheless, Meadows has been subpoenaed for testimony and documents related to the special counsel’s inquiries, and his stance on these matters remains of interest to investigators.