A key Trump lawyer's claim about the former president's right to retain classified information at his Mar-a-Lago resort is completely reversed from how the law actually works, argued former federal prosecutor Elie Honig on CNN Thursday.
Honig's explanation came in response to host Sara Sidner discussing her interview with attorney Jim Trusty the previous evening, where they argued over Trump's repeated claim that he can declassify anything he wants and take it from the National Archives just by thinking about it.
"Let's look at the Presidential Records Act and what it actually says," said Sidner. "It says 'The United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of presidential records,' and under federal law, willfully removing any record or document carries the possibility of a three-year prison sentence. We went — we looked it up, as journalists do. And nowhere does it say you can mentally just think about it and they are declassified."
"You've packed so many misstatements into one question or whatever it was," said Trusty. "The Presidential Records Act does not have a criminal enforcement component to itself. Look at it again."
"Is he right?" Sidner asked Honig. "There's no way to criminally prosecute this? There's no enforcement component?"
"He's wrong on a couple respects," said Honig. "There is an enforcement component. The Act does include some of the crimes listed by DOJ in the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. The other thing is, Mr. Trusty, who I used to work with at DOJ, not closely, he has it backwards. What the Act says is, presumptively, any White House or presidential records belong to the government, the American public. If you're a president or former president, and you want to claim some of those as your own or restrict access, you can try to do that, and here's the process. But he seems to say they belong to the president as an individual or human being, and if the government is lucky, they get some."
Elie Honig debunks Jim Trusty's reading of the Presidential Records Actwww.youtube.com