(PatrioticPost.com)- The National Archives is where history has a weird habit of repeating itself. According to legal experts, the FBI’s search of Melania Trump’s closet and Donald Trump’s private office may be significantly impacted by a case from ten years ago involving audio tapes that Bill Clinton once kept in his sock drawer.
The dispute, Judicial Watch v. National Archives and Records Administration, featured an effort by the conservative watchdog to persuade the Archives to forcibly confiscate hours of audio recordings Clinton made with historian Taylor Branch when he was president.
The case is most well-known in popular culture due to the revelation that the 42nd president once kept the audio tapes in his sock drawer at the White House. The cassettes served as the basis for Branch’s book, published in 2009.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit was ultimately dismissed by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., who concluded that the Presidential Materials Act did not contain any clause requiring the National Archives to seize records belonging to a former president.
However, other broad assertions in Jackson’s decision and the Justice Department’s arguments that came before it are more directly related to the FBI’s choice to confiscate the documents and handwritten notes Trump brought to Mar-a-Lago. Most importantly, a president has complete discretion over which records are personal vs. official and whether or not to declassify or delete data.
Jackson stated in her March 2012 judgment, which was never challenged, “Under the statutory framework established by the PRA, the decision to segregate personal materials from Presidential records is taken by the President, during the President’s term, and in his exclusive discretion.”
“It would be difficult for this Court to conclude that Congress intended that the President would have less authority to do as he pleases with what he considers his records,” she continued. “The President is completely entrusted with the management and even the disposal of Presidential records during his time in office.”
The court determined it was unreasonable to order NARA to travel to obtain the tapes concerning whether data a president decided were personal could be forcibly confiscated after he leaves office.
A judge has ruled that a court cannot review a National Archives decision to dispute a presidential decision to declassify documents brought to Mar-a-Lago by President Donald Trump. Katia Jackson wrote that the request for access to the Clinton tapes was “baseless,” “unlawful,” and “against established administrative law norms.”
Jackson’s decision could significantly influence the ensuing legal disputes surrounding the Trump search. Some experts are concerned that the FBI raid was too intrusive in light of existing regulations because of the Jackson case and the declassification powers.
According to Kevin Brock, a former assistant FBI intelligence director, the agency’s search warrant was excessively wide.