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Schiff hits Trump claim that presidents can declassify materials

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
Greg Nash
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is seen after a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Thursday, July 21, 2022 to focus on former President Trump’s actions during the insurrection.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday knocked claims from former President Trump that a president can declassify materials at will.  

“No, people work hard to get that information. People put their lives at risk to get that information. That information protects American lives. And 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 anything but himself,” Schiff told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview last week that declassification “doesn’t have to be a process” and argued that “if you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it.” 

The former president’s comments came in the wake of last month’s FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, where agents executing a search warrant found over 100 classified documents kept past the end of Trump’s time in office. 

Trump’s defenses for how the materials made their way to Mar-a-Lago have varied, but he’s argued that the documents had been declassified.  

“That’s not how it works. Those comments don’t demonstrate much intelligence of any kind. If you could simply declassify by thinking about it, then frankly, if that’s his view, he’s even more dangerous than we may have thought,” Schiff said Sunday. 

“He could simply spout off on anything he read in a presidential daily brief or anything that he was briefed on by the 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.’” 

Schiff is a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, which has been probing the former president’s role in challenging the 2020 election results and inciting the attacks.

The Justice Department has been running its own Jan. 6 investigation, but Schiff on Sunday called the probe “very slow” and said there are “areas the Justice Department hasn’t fully investigated.” 

The committee is now considering a criminal referral to the DOJ based on the collected evidence against the former president.

“I do agree … there have been several laws broke and it is, I think, apparent that there is evidence that Donald Trump was involved in breaking several of those laws,” Schiff said.

Tags Adam Schiff Adam Schiff classified documents declassification declassification claims declassification process DOJ Donald Trump jan 6 Mar-a-Lago mar-a-lago search Trump Trump classified documents

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