GOP senator rejects Trump claim he could declassify documents by “thinking”

Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, on Sunday doubted former President Donald Trump‘s claim that he can declassify documents just by thinking about it.

FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida residence on August 8, seizing 20 boxes containing allegedly classified documents. The ex-president now faces a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into whether these documents, which could have contained national security information and been vulnerable to foreign spying, were being improperly stored.

Amid the investigation, Trump has maintained his innocence. He and his supporters decried the search as a witch hunt intended to prevent him from running for office again. He has also said that while the documents did not go through a former declassification process, he was able to declassify them without the process—and during a Fox News interview Wednesday, he claimed all he had to do was think about declassifying them to do so.

“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,” the former president said. “And it doesn’t have to be a process. 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. Because I declassified everything.”

Above, Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, speaks at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on August 5. Barrasso rejected former President Donald Trump’s claim that he can declassify documents just by thinking about it on ABC News Sunday.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

During an appearance on ABC News’ This Week, host George Stephanopoulos asked Barrasso if he agreed with Trump’s logic.

The senator initially said he does “not know anything about the rules for when a president declassified documents and information,” though he added “we always have to use extreme caution” in terms of national security documents.

“What I do know, and what I would like to see from the Senate standpoint, is I’d like to see the Department of Justice come to us and show us in a classified setting, what the information is,” the senator added.

Stephanopoulos told Barrasso his question was rhetorical, asking: “You know that a president can’t declassify documents by thinking about it—why can’t you say so?”

“I don’t think a president can declassify documents by saying so—by thinking about it,” Barrasso responded.

Other Republicans have also doubted that Trump could declassify the documents by only thinking about it. Marc Short, an aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, called Trump’s assertion “absurd” during a CBS interview Saturday.

“I think it would make it very difficult for the intelligence community to have a classification system if that was the case,” Short said.

Trump Dealt Loss in Mar-a-Lago Case

Trump was dealt a loss in the DOJ’s investigation this week after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the DOJ’s request to stop an order from a district judge preventing them from examining the classified documents.

Trump’s attorneys also this week acknowledged the possibility that the former president could be indicted in the case, saying that they could not provide details on classification because it would harm their defense in that case.

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s office for comment.

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