‘Little Known’ Obama Directive Could be Gamechanger for Trump’s Classified Documents Case

A “little-known” Obama administration rule aimed at protecting the White House from foreign hackers “may be relevant” to former President Donald Trump’s legal exposure in his felony classified materials case, according to a Freedom of Information Act request from a legal watchdog.

America First Legal, a nonprofit led by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, filed a six-page FOIA request seeking to learn more about a “secretive” information technology committee established by former President Barack Obama following a fall 2014 foreign cyberattack on an unclassified network serving the Executive Office of the President.

Between claims of two distinct hackings allegedly linked to the Russian government in late 2014 and spring 2015, Obama established a White House information technology director and an Executive Committee for Presidential Information Technology by executive order, the Washington Examiner recently reported.

Obama’s PITC directive from March 2015 established “exclusive control” over information resources supplied to the president, vice president, and EOP. Furthermore, it stated unequivocally that all data supplied to or derived from EOP systems are within the president’s supervision.

“Because of President Obama’s executive action, President Trump could reasonably have concluded that all information provided to him in office was within his exclusive control,” according to AFL’s letter to the FOIA Requester Service Center, which referenced the classified documents case led by special counsel Jack Smith.

After prosecutors brought a 37-count indictment against Trump in June, the former president pleaded ‘not guilty’ to his alleged mishandling of classified materials.

A superseding indictment with additional charges related to documents and two other co-defendants was returned by a grand jury in late July.

The former president “was not authorized to possess or retain those classified documents” that federal agents discovered at his Florida property after he left office in January 2021, according to Smith’s charges against Trump.

“But Obama’s PITC memo may have created a reasonable belief in President Trump that he, infact, had such authority,” according to an AFL press release. “Additionally, if the records Trump allegedly destroyed are still preserved within the EOP or the U.S. Department of Defense as part of PITC-created information systems, then other claims in the indictment may be baseless.”

“These explosive findings are consistent with America First Legal’s whitepaper contending that the President of the United States has absolute authority over presidential papers,” the legal group contended. “Neither Congress nor the federal courts may lawfully abrogate or limit this authority.”

As argued by the AFL’s Dr. Dan Epstein, this could imply the Department of Justice filed charges that do not comport with the law.

“Unlocking this secret of the Obama presidency is not only important for public transparency, it has clear implications for whether the government may have failed to disclose necessary information to the defendant as part of its prosecution of former President Trump  – and this information may significantly affect the evidentiary support relied upon in indicting and continuing to prosecute a former President. The American people deserve to know the truth behind this secretive memo and how it has been used,” said Dr. Dan Epstein.

By Melinda Davies
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