On Wednesday, Trump, 76, told Hannity, 60, in a pre-recorded interview a president can declassify documents “just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it,” in an interview during which he also suggested without evidence that the FBI planted classified documents in Mar-a-Lago and spread conspiracy theories regarding Hillary Clinton’s private emails, among others.
“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” Trump said of a president’s power to declassify documents. “Different people say different things, but as I understand it there doesn’t have to be. 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,” the former president added. “There can be a process, but there doesn’t have to be. You’re the president, you make that decision. So when you send it it’s declassified.”
Trump claimed again that he “declassified everything,” although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta noted his legal team has not produced any evidence that any documents found when federal agents searched Mar-a-Lago in August were declassified in its Wednesday ruling that the Department of Justice may continue to review those documents, according to The Washington Post.
The court also noted in its ruling Wednesday that Trump’s legal team has actually “resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents” in front of the special master appointed to review those same documents.
“In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal,” the appeals court wrote, according to the Post.
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In August, the release of the warrant used by the FBI to search the property revealed that agents were investigating Trump for removal or destruction of records, obstruction of an investigation and for potentially violating the Espionage Act.
On Tuesday, the The New York Times reported that the former president was warned about his handling of secret materials back in 2021 — by a former White House attorney.
According to Times journalist Maggie Haberman, Trump was warned about the legal repercussions of holding on to classified government materials in 2021, during a meeting with former White House attorney Eric Herschmann.
The alleged conversation, Haberman writes, “is the latest evidence that Mr. Trump had been informed of the legal perils of holding onto material.”
The search of Mar-a-Lago came after numerous attempts by the federal government to track down missing documents from Trump’s time in office.
In January, after being contacted by the National Archives and Records Administration, Trump and his associates sent 184 documents from Mar-a-Lago to the archives. Then, in early June, FBI agents and a senior Justice Department national security supervisor reportedly visited the resort in regards to boxes of classified documents sitting in the property’s basement. A Trump attorney handed over 38 documents at the time, and officials followed up with instructions to install a stronger lock on the storage room door.
Trump reportedly assured officials that he had no more classified materials, but weeks later, “someone familiar with the stored papers told investigators there may be still more classified documents at the private club,” per The Wall Street Journal.
In August, agents came back with the warrant, ultimately leaving with more than 100 documents.