Former President Donald Trump in his latest interview claimed that documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, which were originally stored at the White House, were already declassified by the time he left office.
In a conversation with Fox News host Sean Hannity that aired Wednesday, Trump said that “there doesn’t have to be a process” to declassify documents.
“You know, there’s different people say different things, but as I understand, there doesn’t have to be,” he said, per CBS News. “If you’re the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it.”
“Because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it. And there doesn’t have to be a process. There can be a process, but there doesn’t have to be,” he said, adding: “You’re the president — you make that decision.”
Presidents do have authority to declassify records, but there is still due process that is typically followed, the report stated.
First, the president’s instructions are penned down in a memo, then relevant agencies are consulted. If they decide to abide by the request, the document is remarked “Declassified,” along with a date, and the “classified” title is crossed off.
“So when you send it, it’s declassified. I declassified everything,” the former president said.
When the FBI searched Trump’s property in August, they found 15 boxes worth of classified records, some highly classified, as Collin Leonard reported for the Deseret News.
Since then, Judge Raymond Dearie has been asked to serve as a special master in this dispute by reviewing materials seized at Mar-a-Lago. This week, he told Trump’s lawyers that evidence is still required to prove whether those documents were declassified or not.
“I guess my view of it is, you can’t have your cake and eat it,” he said, per The Guardian.
A high-ranking White House official, Kash Patel, has alleged that Trump “declassified whole sets of documents.”
He was alluding to a tweet the former president posted on Oct. 6: “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!”