Former President Trump claimed in a new interview that presidents do not have to go through a formal process to release sensitive documents and can do so “even by thinking about it”.
The former president’s comments came as he has repeatedly claimed that he released classified and top-secret documents he took to his Florida home after leaving the White House in 2021 during a Justice Department investigation into his dealings with classified material.
“There doesn’t have to be a trial, as I understand it,” Trump told TSWT News host Sean Hannity. “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s been released.’ Even by thinking about it.”
“There can be a process, but it doesn’t have to be. You are the chairman. You make that decision. So if you send it, it’s released,” Trump added. “I released everything.”
While presidents have broad powers to release data, this triggers a series of events as the intelligence agencies managing such data have to take additional steps.
Trump and some of his allies have urged the former president to make public any documents he took with him when he left the White House. The FBI searched his estate in Mar-a-Lago last month after a January house search found dozens of classified, classified and top secret documents.
Trump’s lawyers repeatedly noted last week that he had the authority to release records, but didn’t say he actually did, despite the former president pledging the apology for a month.
The Justice Department responded by pointing out that Trump’s legal team insinuated, but did not fully allege, that Trump released the documents.
Trump told Hannity that the General Services Administration (GSA) and other White House personnel were involved in packing boxes at the end of his term containing photos, newspaper articles and other materials.
However, the GSA says its transitional role for the outgoing president and vice president will include IT support, financial management, parking, furniture, vehicles, office equipment and administrative support.
“The GSA also works with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as needed to support former presidents in establishing and maintaining their libraries,” the organization said on its website. “These services are only provided in the event of a change of Administration.”