Trump claims presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it”
Trump claims presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it”

Trump claims presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it”

Presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it,” former President Trump said in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News that aired Wednesday night.

The former president insisted that the number of documents with FBI classification marks found at Mar-a-Lago were indeed classified. But Trump’s lawyers denied a request for information from special master Raymond Dearie, the independent arbitrator tasked with examining the seized documents, about whether the records were actually leaked by the former president. Trump’s lawyers argued in a letter to Dearie Monday that such disclosures exceeded District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order and could be part of Trump’s defense, if he is indicted in the future.

But Dearie said that if Trump’s lawyers won’t confirm that the records have been released, and the Justice Department makes a legal case to keep them, “as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.” On Wednesday night, Trump’s team suffered another blow when a federal appeals court granted a request from the Justice Department to authorize investigators. retrieving nearly 100 documents with identification marks captured by the FBI.

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In Trump’s interview on “Hannity,” which was taped before the appeals court decision, Trump claimed to have “revealed everything,” and that presidents can only do so “by thinking about it.”

“There’s not going to be a system, as I understand it,” Trump told Hannity. “You know, there are different people who say different things, but as I understand it, it doesn’t have to be – if you’re the president of the United States, you can only prove it by saying it’s classified, even by thinking about it. Because you send it to Mar-a-Lago or wherever you send it, and there doesn’t have to be a process, there can be a process, but it doesn’t have to be. The president – you make that decision, so when you send it, it’s classified, something. and I separated them all.”

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Presidents have enormous powers to declassify information, but there is a process that is usually followed.

In general, president instructions to describe the documents it is first written in writing, usually prepared by White House lawyers, and signed by the president. The relevant agencies are often consulted and when the final decision is made, the document will be marked, with its previous classification level passed, and stamped, “Defined on X date” by the agency. is the question.

Trump’s handling of classified documents “concerns” his former national security adviser John Bolton. The fact that Trump wanted to keep the sensitive documents worried Bolton, Bolton told CBS News in an interview last month.

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“My concern was that he didn’t feel that the privacy of much of this information was as important as we knew it to be,” Bolton said. “I just didn’t sign up for him that for the sake of protecting this information, and the risk of sources and methods of obtaining intelligence, it could be dangerous.”

Ultimately, it may be up to the courts to decide how limited a sitting president’s impeachment powers should be.

— CBS News’ Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.

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