In Hannity interview, Trump claims he can declassify documents 'even by thinking about it'
Former President Donald Trump said in a broadcast interview Wednesday that he can declassify documents “even by thinking about it.”
“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity, after Hannity pressed him on which process he took to declassify the documents.
He continued, “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it.”
Presidents are considered to be ultimately responsible for classifying and declassifying material, and there is a process for doing so. But there is still "exceedingly sensitive information that is required by law to be protected from unauthorized disclosure," J. William Leonard, the former head of the U.S. National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, told USA TODAY.
Trump's comments came before the ruling from the appeals court authorizing the Department of Justice to review the 100 classified documents he took. The court said that although the former president has said he declassified the documents before he left office, there are no records of it.
"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 court said.
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The Hannity interview was the former president's first sit-down interview since his Mar-a-Lago search, the Washington Post reported.
It also came the same day that a lawsuit was filed against him in New York. New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump of fraud after a three-year inquiry into the finances of his family business.
Court documents released since the FBI's Aug. 8 search of Trump's home in Florida showed that he kept classified documents marked "secret" and "top secret."
The FBI seized documents as part of an ongoing investigation that may involve criminal laws prohibiting improper removal of sensitive documents and obstruction of justice.
Contributing: George Petras and Stephen J. Beard