President Trump, Congress, and the courts are able to get records about Susan Rice’s “unmasking” of Trump transition officials out of the Obama Presidential Library.
Obama stashed the records in his library, according to Judicial Watch’s announcement Monday, which cited a letter from the National Security Council (NSC). Judicial Watch tried to get the records through the Freedom of Information Act, but the watchdog group was denied, with the NSC citing a Presidential Records Act statute that protects presidential records from public disclosure for a period of five years.
It appears, then, that Rep. Devin Nunes’ House Intelligence Committee subpoenas to the NSA, CIA, and FBI will come up fruitless, with the Deep State agencies deferring to the Obama Library. But don’t worry.
There are a number of things wrong here.
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton:
The NSC stated in its letter that “Documents from the Obama administration have been transferred to the Barack Obama Presidential Library. You may send your request to the Obama Library. However, you should be aware that under the Presidential Records Act, Presidential records remain closed to the public for five years after an administration has left office.”
First of all, Barack Obama’s presidential library does not actually exist. The proposed library in Jackson Park, Chicago, will not be fully constructed until 2021. So where are the records? Physically speaking, where are the records? Are the records at the construction site? What constitutes the Obama Library, as an entity, at this point in time?
What purpose do these records serve in an Obama library? Will the museum feature a “Surveilling Trump” exhibit next to one about Obama’s boyhood years in Hawaii? Will “Susan Rice’s Unmasking” play as an in-house movie for library guests? By 2021, the left’s partisan hatred might be formidable enough to make this a reality.
The federal government still owns the records, not the museum, according to the National Archives website: “The United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records; and such records shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.”
The national Archivist has custody of the records, according to the Archives site: “Upon the conclusion of a President’s term of office, or if a President serves consecutive terms upon the conclusion of the last term, the Archivist of the United States shall assume responsibility for the custody, control, and preservation of, and access to, the Presidential records of that President.”
Since the NSC cited the five-year confidentiality window, that means the only thing specifically hiding the records is the Presidential Records Act, which has certain exceptions.
Are the records closed to the public? Yes. But not closed to the current president, Congress, or law enforcement officials who can get the information and make it public themselves.
From the Archives website:
“§ 2205. Exceptions to restricted access
(2) subject to any rights, defenses, or privileges which the United States or any agency or person may invoke, Presidential records shall be made available–
(A) pursuant to subpoena or other judicial process issued by a court of competent jurisdiction for the purposes of any civil or criminal investigation or proceeding;
(B) to an incumbent President if such records contain information that is needed for the conduct of current business of the incumbent President’s office and that is not otherwise available; and
(C) to either House of Congress, or, to the extent of matter within its jurisdiction, to any committee or subcommittee thereof if such records contain information that is needed for the conduct of its business and that is not otherwise available; and”
There are a number of ways the Trump administration can choose to get at the records. Importantly, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenas should still bear fruit. Devin Nunes might just have to add the Obama Library and the national Archivist to the subpoena list.
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