The National Archives reportedly requested last year that one of former President Donald Trump's attorneys send potentially sensitive White House materials via FedEx, including letters of correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
According to emails obtained by CNN, soon after the former president left office in January 2021, National Archives officials asked Trump's team to return certain documents that were taken to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
And at one point during negotiations, a senior National Archives official reportedly instructed former Trump lawyer Scott Gast to send the Kim letters via FedEx's overnight delivery service.
"Please let me know before you mail it and then pass along the tracking code once it has been sent," the National Archives official wrote to Gast and others in a June 2021 email, according to CNN. "I need to make sure I have staff on this end to receive the package."
The following January, the National Archives received the requested letters from Trump's team, after the agency traveled to Mar-a-Lago to gather the other materials.
According to The New York Times, the National Archives and Records Administration collected more than 150 documents with classified markings.
The National Archives reportedly referred the matter to the Justice Department, which subsequently opened an investigation.
The DOJ then visited Trump's Florida residence in June, according to The Times, and took another batch of documents that allegedly contained sensitive national security information.
Neither CNN nor The Times confirmed if any of the "top secret" materials or documents "with classified markings" had been declassified by then-President Trump prior to his leaving office in January 2021.
Last week on Newsmax, Trump attorney Alina Habba explained how presidents (past and present) have top-secret authority, along with other executive privileges, that are different than regular American citizens.
"What people don't understand: Presidents have different kinds of privileges — executive privileges," said Habba on "Rob Schmitt Tonight," while adding that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama exercised similar declassification privileges with documents after leaving office in 2009 and 2017, respectively.
And on Aug. 14, Tom Fitton — the president of Judicial Watch, a think tank that investigates government corruption — told Newsmax the Espionage Act is an "elastic" law and thus difficult for government officials to prove in court against everyday American citizens, let alone former presidents.
"The question of whether Trump's materials [taken during the FBI's raid of the Mar-a-Lago resort] were still deemed as 'classified' is still in significant legal dispute," said Fitton, while appearing on "Wake Up America" with co-hosts Carl Higbie and Christina Thompson. "They're presumed to be his records."
According to the CNN piece, Fitton advised Trump last year that returning the documents to the National Archives would be a mistake, asserting established law was on the former commander in chief's side — stemming from a 2012 court case involving Fitton's own organization, which proved a president could do what he wants with his own records.
"I have been quite clear that President Trump is being abused here, and the Justice Department has changed its position that they had in the Clinton case," Fitton told CNN.
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