Ruling in Bill Clinton Case Could Support Trump’s Claims About Mar-a-Lago Raid

Clinton kept audio tapes in his sock drawer.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Questions about the legality of the Mar-a-Lago raid have caused reporters to look back at the rulings for former President Bill Clinton about presidential records.
  • Clinton allegedly made audio tapes with historian Taylor Branch, 97 of which he kept in his sock drawer.
  • Watchdog group Judicial Watch sued to have those tapes included in the National Archives, but U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled against them.
  • The judge ruled that no provision in the presidential records act allows the national archives to seize records from a former president.
  • In fact, the Act does not contain any clause requiring the National Archives to seize records belonging to a former president in the way that the FBI carried out their warrant against Trump.
DETAILS OF CLINTON’S CASE:
  • In Judicial Watch’s suit for Clinton’s tapes, they asserted that “Branch recorded seventy-nine audiotapes that ‘preserved not only President Clinton’s thoughts and commentary on contemporaneous events and issues he was facing as president, but, in some instances, recorded actual events such as presidential telephone conversations.'”
  • Jackson wrote in her March 2012 decision, which was never appealed: “Under the statutory scheme established by the PRA, the decision to segregate personal materials from Presidential records is made by the President, during the President’s term and in his sole discretion.”
  • “Since the President is completely entrusted with the management and even the disposal of Presidential records during his time in office, it would be difficult for this Court to conclude that Congress intended that he would have less authority to do what he pleases with what he considers to be his personal records,” she added.
BACKGROUND:
  • Speculation about what raid on Mar-a-Lago was meant to achieve has led some to the conclusion that the raid was about documents related to the Russia collusion issue.
  • The incident, known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane was brought up by an intelligence official speaking to Newsweek about the raid.
  • The official claimed that the documents the agency was after dealt with intelligence matters of interest to the former president that he believed could have exonerated him of the collusion claims.