WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, America First Legal (AFL) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Defense Information Systems Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Defense, to understand the secretive Presidential Information Technology Committee (PITC) created by former President Barack Obama.
Why was this secretive committee created?
In October 2014, Russian hackers breached the Executive Office of the President (EOP)’s network. In response, President Obama created, via executive action, PITC. PITC includes representatives of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, among others.
Why is the committee relevant today?
First, PITC creates a presumption that the President controls all information he receives. The PITC memo established the President’s exclusive control over information resources and systems provided to the President. (§ 1, ¶ 2.). The memo created the presumption that information contained on information systems and resources was “EOP information.” ( § 4(f)). Because the memo relied upon the Federal Records Act’s definition of “information system” as resources organized for the “use” and “disposition” of “information”, the memo gives the President exclusive control over information he receives. This is relevant to what a President may reasonably believe about information given to him while in office.
Second, and related, if information stored on the PITC network formed the basis for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of former President Trump, that evidence should have been disclosed to the former President and may be relevant to his liability.
Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment against former President Trump, claims “Trump was not authorized to possess or retain…classified documents.” But Obama’s PITC memo may have created a reasonable belief in President Trump that he, in fact, had such authority. Additionally, if the records Trump allegedly destroyed are still preserved within the EOP or the U.S. Department of Defense as part of PITC-created information systems, then other claims in the indictment may be baseless.
These explosive findings are consistent with America First Legal’s whitepaper contending that the President of the United States has absolute authority over presidential papers. Neither Congress nor the federal courts may lawfully abrogate or limit this authority.
Statement from America First Legal’s Dr. Dan Epstein:
“Unlocking this secret of the Obama presidency is not only important for public transparency, it has clear implications for whether the government may have failed to disclose necessary information to the defendant as part of its prosecution of former President Trump – and this information may significantly affect the evidentiary support relied upon in indicting and continuing to prosecute a former President. The American people deserve to know the truth behind this secretive memo and how it has been used,” said Dr. Dan Epstein.
Read the FOIA here.
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