September 19, 2022

The ACLU of Massachusetts today filed a public records lawsuit to gather information about whether former President Donald Trump lied when he recently asserted the existence of a declassification “standing order” for materials he removed from the Oval Office. Trump reportedly alleged the existence of this “standing order” for the first time after the FBI conducted a court-authorized search of the Mar-a-Lago Club and found dozens of highly classified documents.

The lawsuit names federal agencies that have not yet provided final responses to an ACLU request under the Freedom of Information Act. Meanwhile, that request has already prompted responses from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency—both of which claim that no standing order matching Trump’s description could be found.

“It appears that one of two things must be true: either Mr. Trump potentially imperiled national security by stealing classified documents and storing them in a hotel, or Mr. Trump potentially imperiled national security by issuing a ‘standing order’ that arbitrarily declassified sensitive materials based solely on their physical movement within the White House.” said Daniel McFadden, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Particularly given Mr. Trump’s continuing attempts to undermine democracy and scapegoat federal law enforcement officials, there is a strong public interest in the immediate disclosure of reliable information about whether this alleged ‘standing order’ is simply a lie intended to obscure crimes or other misconduct.”

The new lawsuit comes in the wake of an FBI raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the potential mishandling of classified information and obstruction of justice. After news of the raid broke, Trump released a statement claiming that he “had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.” To date, neither Trump nor the government have produced evidence of such an order, and several of Trump’s own former cabinet members have publicly derided the notion of its existence.  

The lawsuit names the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency as defendants. The ACLU of Massachusetts is represented in the lawsuit by attorneys Christopher Hart and Natalie Panariello of Foley Hoag LLP, as well as its legal director Matthew Segal and staff attorney Daniel McFadden.

For more information about ACLU of Massachusetts v. CIA, go to:

For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to: