On Monday, CNN aired a bombshell recording in the classified documents case against former president Donald Trump. The recording, released to CNN by the special counsel working on the Department of Justice’s indictment of Trump, is reportedly of a 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump discussed and seemingly showed secret documents to a group of onlookers. It was just the latest revelation in the government's case against the former president. Classified documents that belonged to former high-level government officials, including but not limited to former President Trump, former Vice President Pence, and President Biden, have been found in unauthorized locations in recent months. These cases vary greatly in volume and severity, but they point to a larger, systemic problem in the American government: the problem of overclassification. The latest data that the government released, in 2017, showed that around 50 million government documents are classified a year by over four million people, including outside government contractors, costing American taxpayers around $18 million, says Oona Hathaway, professor of law at Yale Law School, former special counsel to the Pentagon, and author of the Foreign Affairs article "Keeping the Wrong Secrets." In this conversation with Brooke, Hathaway talks about the incentives driving government employees to classify so many documents, the differences between the Trump and Biden document dramas, and why labeling so many things as "secret" makes these secrets less safe.
This is a segment originally aired on our January 27, 2023 show, Sorry, That’s Classified.
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