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Judge orders DOJ to determine intent of Trump's tweets 'declassifying' Russia docs

DOJ attorneys say Trump's tweets shouldn't be considered orders.

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Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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A federal judge wants to know more about what President Donald Trump meant when he tweeted that he'd "fully authorized the total declassification" of documents related to the probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 US elections, according to media reports.

On Friday, Judge Reggie Walton of the US District Court in Washington, DC, ordered the US Department of Justice to explain in writing the intent behind Trump's tweets earlier this month about the documents, CNN reported. 

"I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!" Trump tweeted. DOJ attorneys say Trump's tweets weren't an order to the agency to declassify materials related to the Russian election interference probe. The DOJ didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

News outlets, including CNN and BuzzFeed, are trying to get more access to records about the investigation conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller between 2017 and 2019. Last week, BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold referenced Trump's declassification tweets in an emergency motion seeking access to Mueller's unredacted report.

Leopold tweeted that Walton said during a Friday hearing that the president clearly indicated his intent when he tweeted that he'd allow the declassification of these documents. Another hearing about the case is scheduled for Oct. 21, according to court records.