Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) doesn’t think highly of Donald Trump’s intellectual acuity – and it’s difficult to disagree with him. In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN‘s State of the Union on Sunday morning, the House Select Committee on January 6th member was asked to respond to comments that the ex-President made to Fox News host Sean Hannity saying that a president has the power to declassify confidential documents simply “by thinking about it.”
Congressman Schiff replied, “Those comments don’t demonstrate much intelligence of any kind.”
“If you could simply declassify by thinking about it, uh then frankly if that’s his view, he’s even more dangerous than we may have thought.”
Since after the FBI executed a legally obtained search warrant at the former President’s Mar-a-Lago estate on August 8th, it was revealed that top secret and classified materials were among the items seized, questions have been raised as to whether they were declassified prior to Trump leaving office. While Trump maintains publicly that they were – after first accusing federal officers of planting evidence – there’s no proof of process to substantiate his claims, and his lawyers have yet to refer to his assertions in their court filings.
While a president can classify or declassify some documents, not all top secret records fall into that category — and the ones that do are subject to a strict and highly precedented process for doing so. But Trump’s claims that he had the authority – and used it – to render the stolen records no longer top secret by simply using his mind is out there even for him.
“It doesn’t have to be a process as I understand it, you know different people say different things but as I understand 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,” Trump said to Hannity.
“Is that how it works, sir?” Tapper asked the California congressman in his interview.
“No, that’s not how it works,” Schiff replied quickly.
“People work hard to get that information, people put their lives at risk to get that information. That information protects American lives.”
“With that view, he could simply spout off on anything he read in a presidential daily brief or anything he was briefed on by a CIA director to a visiting Russian delegation or any other delegation and simply say ‘well, I thought about it and therefore when the words came out of my mouth they were declassified,” Rep. Schiff explained.
It was first believed that Trump had potentially violated the Presidential Records Act after stonewalling the National Archives and Records Administration’s attempts to retrieve documents belonging to the United States government – engaging in an 18-month game of cat and mouse between NARA and the ex-President and his attorneys. Aides turned over 15 boxes of materials in January 2022 – a year after requested – sounding the alarm for federal investigators when it was discovered that sensitive documents were among those returned.
That alarm prompted the Justice Department to seek out a search warrant, which was eventually granted by magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), has sought to gauge the potential threats to national security posed by Trump’s possession of the classified documents.
Schiff condemned Trump’s callous treatment of the records and subsequent dismissal of the gravity of the matter, telling Tapper “For him to treat it so cavalierly shows both, what a continuing danger the man is, but also how very little regard he has for himself.”
As we said, it’s difficult to disagree with Congressman Schiff on this matter.
You can watch the excerpt of Rep. Adam Schiff’s interview with Jake Tapper in the video clip below:
"Those comments don't demonstrate much intelligence of any kind."@RepAdamSchiff responds to former President Donald Trump's claim that he could declassify documents just by thinking about it. @CNNSOTU #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/e06DsZ819T
— CNN (@CNN) September 25, 2022
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