Leading Republican senator says Trump CANNOT declassify the documents ‘thinking about it’ while Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff says ex-president’s claim doesn’t ‘demonstrate much intelligence of any kind’
- Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming claimed FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago was ‘political’ but admitted presidents can’t declassify documents with their minds
- Trump told Hannity last week that he could declassify documents just thinking about doing so while pleading in his own defense
- Representative for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said if Trump really believed that, he would be “even more dangerous” than Democrats had thought.
The Republican No. 3 in the Senate said on Sunday he doesn’t believe a president can declassify documents just by “thinking about it” – after the former president made the bold claim in an interview last week.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democratic critic of Trump who is investigating him on the Jan. 6 select committee, put it even more bluntly: “These comments don’t show much intelligence of any kind.”
Trump’s defense of accusations that he knowingly took classified documents from the White House when he left office last year raised eyebrows during an interview last week with the on-hours host. Fox News primetime Sean Hannity.
He told the Tory host that documents seized by the FBI in an unannounced search of his Mar-a-Lago mansion had been declassified because he considered them to be so.
The senator’s Republican Conference Chairman, John Barrasso, was asked about the claim during his own interview, with ABC News’ This Week on Sunday.
“I’ve never heard that one before,” Barrasso told host George Stephanopoulos. “I will tell you, in terms of national security documents, we always have to exercise extreme caution.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the Senate GOP No. 3, has acknowledged that neither Donald Trump nor any president can declassify documents with their minds.
“I am part of the Foreign Relations Committee. We deal with classified information all the time and are always very careful. I don’t know what – anything about the rules that apply when a president declassifies documents and information.
Barrasso tried to shine the spotlight on the Justice Department by demanding a classified briefing and denouncing the raid as “political.”
But Stephanopoulos insisted again: “You know that a president cannot declassify documents by thinking about it. Why can’t you say it?
“I don’t think a president can declassify documents by saying so, thinking about it,” the Wyoming senator admitted.
Meanwhile, during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff warned that Trump thinking he could declassify documents with his mind would turn him down. “even more dangerous” than he previously thought.
‘No, that’s not how it works. These comments don’t demonstrate much intelligence of any kind,” Schiff said flatly.
“If you could just downgrade thinking about it, then frankly, if that’s his view, he’s even more dangerous than we thought.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, was even more blunt in his reaction: “No, that’s not how it works.”
He explained, “from that point of view, he could just spout whatever he read in a presidential daily briefing or whatever he was briefed on by the CIA director to a visiting Russian delegation or any other delegation and just saying, well, I thought of and therefore when the words came out of my mouth, they were declassified.
The ex-president told Hannity that he declassified documents recovered by FBI agents in January and June, and a third time via an unannounced raid on August 8.
Asked about the process behind it, Trump said, “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it.”
“Different people see different things. If you’re the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified. Even thinking about it – because you send it to Mar-a-Lago or wherever you send it,” the former president said.
“It doesn’t have to be a process, it can be a process but it doesn’t have to be. You the president make that decision. So when you send it, it’s declassified. J declassified everything.
Trump used it as a defense in the DOJ’s ever-growing investigation into his handling of classified documents