“I think the American public has a right to trust what the president says about what he intends,” said Walton, a nominee for President George W. Bush. “It seems to me that when a president makes a clear statement of what he intends, I can not trust the White House Council to say, yes, that was not his intention. Perhaps the White House council spoke with the president. Maybe they did not, but I can not tell. ”
The 25-minute phone call includes the kind of exchanges between judges and government attorneys that would have been considered astonishing under any other president, but which have become commonplace under Trump. Walton said, in essence, that he did not trust the lawyer̵
Justice Department Attorney Courtney Enlow said the statements from the attorneys involved were entitled to a “presumption of regularity,” essentially that government officials should be taken at their word.
“That should end the case,” she said.
But the judge suggested that such reverence was not justified because the president himself had signaled that some rogue elements in the government were against his orders.
“How do I know the statements made by White House lawyers are in fact the President’s position? … How can I assume that White House lawyers are actually acting in the direction of the President? How can I assume that? Walton asked, pointing to an interview the president did last Friday with radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“I have completely declassified everything. Everything is declassified. They have so much information, ”Trump told Limbaugh.
Earlier last week, Trump sent a tweet that appeared to instruct that all information related to the Russia probe be made public.
“I have fully endorsed the total declassification of all documents relating to the largest single political CRIME in American history, Russia’s hoax,” Trump wrote. “Likewise the Hillary Clinton email scandal. No newsrooms!”
The comments prompted lawyers for CNN and BuzzFeed to pursue Freedom of Information Act trials for the full Mueller report and related documents to ask the judge to consider releasing information previously withheld for national security or other reasons.
But Enlow said Friday that in Trump’s latest tweets and comments, he referred to a prior declassification and did not order the release of anything new.
“These statements are not clear directives to declassify,” she said. “They are listed in the past.”
A CNN lawyer, Matthew Topic, said the White House law firm seemed to be putting its spin on what the president said.
“It really sounded like what we got was the White House adviser’s interpretation of those tweets,” Topic said. “If we look at these words, they are very clear. He says: no newsrooms. ”
Walton did not specifically say what he plans to do after receiving more information from the government next week, but he has pushed to get most of the release information in the FBI reports from the Mueller probe out before next month’s presidential election. Thousands of pages of interview reports have already been published along with the vast majority of the Mueller report.