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Top Senate Republican says he doesn’t think presidents can declassify documents ‘by thinking about it’

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Greg Nash
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Sunday said he doesn’t think former President Trump is right to claim that a president can declassify materials “by thinking about it.” 

In an interview with ABC “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, Barrasso, the chair of the Senate Republican Conference, initially sidestepped questions about whether he agreed with the former president’s claim. 

“I’ve not heard that one before. … I don’t know what – anything about the rules for when a president declassifies documents and information,” Barrasso said, before pivoting to call on the Justice Department to share more information about what he called a “raid” at the former president’s home. 

When pressed, Barrasso conceded that he does not agree with Trump’s claim.

“I don’t think a president can declassify documents by saying so, by thinking about it,” Barrasso said. 

Trump had said in a Fox News interview last week 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 his Palm Beach, Fla., residence at Mar-a-Lago, where investigators found more than 100 classified documents.

Trump has provided varying defenses for how the classified material came to be stored at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House, arguing that he declassified the documents in order to bring them to his home. 

Tags classified documents classified information declassification claims declassification process George Stephanopoulos John Barrasso John Barrasso Mar-a-Lago Trump Trump
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