August 26, 2022

Now there's a name I didn't expect to see pop up in this mess! But now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Via CNN:

Not long after the National Archives acknowledged in February that it had retrieved 15 boxes of presidential records from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump began fielding calls from Tom Fitton, a prominent conservative activist.

Fitton, the longtime head of the legal activist group Judicial Watch, had a simple message for Trump — it was a mistake to give the records to the Archives, and his team should never have let the Archives "strong-arm" him into returning them, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Those records belonged to Trump, Fitton argued, citing a 2012 court case involving his organization that he said gave the former President authority to do what he wanted with records from his own term in office.

Of course, the longtime Groundswell member Fitton didn't bother to tell Trump he lost that argument in court before it got anywhere near trial.

Here's what happened. Bill Clinton did dozens of audio interviews with historian Taylor Branch over the course of his presidency, and Judicial Watch went to court to get access. The district court judge dismissed the case even before discovery, determining that the records were personal and not presidential, so the Archives could not demand them from the former president, and Judicial Watch couldn't get access via a FOIA request.

Despite the court making that decision, Fitton still argued to Trump that any records he created -- or even apparently reviewed, were his personal records.

While Trump continued to publicly tout his cooperation with the Archives, privately the former President began obsessing over Fitton's arguments, complaining to aides about the 15 boxes that were handed over and becoming increasingly convinced that he should have full control over records that remained at Mar-a-Lago, according to people with knowledge of his behavior at the time.

Trump even asked Fitton at one point to brief his attorneys, said a person familiar with the matter.

Fitton is not, nor has he ever been an attorney. He has an English degree.

Trump is a malignant narcissist who's also extremely gullible. And because he founded his resistance to returning the records to the National Archives on the legal advice of someone who isn't even a lawyer, he's in even deeper legal trouble.

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