Former president Trump’s claim this week that presidents can declassify documents “even by thinking about it” did not square with former vice president Mike Pence’s top aide.
Driving the news: Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, called Trump’s assertion “absurd” in an interview with CBS News on Friday.
What he’s saying: “That’s absurd, obviously,” Short said in response to a question about Trump’s remarks. “And I think it would make it very difficult for the intelligence community to have a classification system if that were the case.”
- Short said neither he nor the former vice president shared that view or approach to handling classified materials.
Catch up quick: Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that there “doesn’t have to be a process” for a president to deem a document declassified.
- “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified,'” Trump said.
- “Even by thinking about it, because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it. … There can be a process, but there doesn’t have to be.”
The big picture: Classified documents are at the center of the Department of Justice’s investigation into Trump and the former president’s ongoing legal battle with the DOJ.
- Since the FBI seized a trove of government papers from Mar-a-Lago, some of which were labeled “top secret,” Trump has repeatedly claimed he declassified them while he was still in office.
- The Justice Department contends that the records belong to the government, not Trump.
- After a Trump-appointed lower court judge ordered federal officials to halt their review of the materials, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the DOJ could resume reviewing the recovered documents.
- Since the court ruling, intelligence officials have begun poring over the files as part of a national security risk assessment.