Trump Says He Has Power to Declassify Docs at Will, Warns Nation 'Tired' of Drama Over Feds' Probe
© AP Photo / Julia Nikhinson / Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower,Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower
© AP Photo / Julia Nikhinson / Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower,
A court of appeals ruled Wednesday that the Justice Department can resume its review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate last month, reversing an earlier decision barring investigators from doing so. Trump has warned that investigators would cause “big problems” for the nation if they tried to indict him.
Presidents have the power to declassify documents just by “thinking about it,” and the Justice Department’s investigation into whether or not the former president mishandled classified documents is just a storm in a teacup, Donald Trump has claimed.
“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it…You’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying ‘it’s declassified’, even by thinking about it. You’re the president, you make that decision. So when you send it, it’s declassified. I declassified everything,” Trump said, speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night.
Trump assured viewers that General Service Administration (GSA) employees and White House aides packed the documents as he left the White House in January 2021, and that there was nothing “secret” or hidden from the government or the public.
“There was nothing that was hiding, and if you look at the Presidential Records Act, this is what happens. You get together with GSA…and you talk and you work and you negotiate. I mean they [created the Presidential Records Act] I think in the 1970s, exactly for this. And we were having very nice discussions, no problem and then all of a sudden we got hit very hard by the FBI,” Trump said, referring to the August 8 raid, which he characterized as “really a break in.”
“Under the Presidential Records Act, there’s no retribution or prosecution. You’re supposed to negotiate. We’re talking about documents, we’re talking about documents that actually are being watched over to a certain extent and I would say to a large extent by the Secret Service if you think about it. But I can’t imagine – you mention the word prosecution…I don’t see how they could prosecute me,” Trump said.
The former president agreed with Hannity that the probe into his handling of records compared to a lack of interest in Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as Hunter Biden’s laptop, was unfair and indicated bias. “They certainly didn’t raid their homes,” Trump said.
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Asked whether he would consider releasing security cam footage from the raid, Trump said he is hesitant because of the potential consequences for the personal security of the FBI agents involved.
“They’ve asked me not to do it because they feel the FBI agents might be in physical harm and danger because there is a fervor in this country. This country is so tired of this stuff, so I have not done it…I really believe that most of the FBI out of the top groups, most of the people in the FBI they probably voted for Trump. I don’t wanna have anybody hurt,” Trump said.
Trump also dismissed the civil suit being pursued by New York attorney General Letitia James against his business interests. “She campaigned on it four years ago. It was a vicious campaign and she just talked about Trump and ‘we’re going to indict him and we’re going to get him’. She knew nothing about me, I never heard of her,” he said.
21 September 2022, 15:37 GMT
Trump said he had expected the AG to seek to settle out of court, but said this was a “problem” for him, “because how do you pay something, even if it’s a small amount of money, if you’re not guilty? This was just a continuation of a witch-hunt that began when I came the escalator of Trump Tower” Trump said, referring to his announcement of his presidential bid in 2015.
An appeals court ruled Wednesday that Department of Justice investigators can continue their review of classified documents said to have been seized during last month’s raid on the Mar-a-Lago estate. The review is expected to be completed by the end of November.
22 September 2022, 04:20 GMT
Trump has slammed the raid as a violation of his constitutional rights, and alleged that the FBI or the DoJ may have planted something among the seized documents, since his lawyers were not allowed to watch the FBI agents’ search of Mar-a-Lago.
This week, Raymond Dearie, the outside expert brought in at the Trump legal team’s request to sift through the seized documents for any papers that might fall under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, said his work would come to a speedy conclusion if Trump’s lawyers failed to prove that the documents were not classified, as alleged by the DoJ.
19 September 2022, 15:21 GMT
Wednesday’s appeals court ruling to allow the DoJ to resume its investigation comes after last week’s decision by a judge in a lower court to halt the probe until Dearie completes his work.
The DoJ accuses Trump of illegally taking classified documents out of the White House, and of concealing records from the government. Last month, legal experts calculated that Trump could face up to 33 years in prison if he is convicted for the alleged violation of three federal laws, including the Espionage Act – the rarely-used law threatening Australian-born WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Trump denies any wrongdoing, and has accused the Biden White House and the “sleazy” Democrats of instigating the Mar-a-Lago probe in a bid to stop his potential 2024 presidential bid after the failure of the Russiagate investigation and two failed impeachments. Last week, he warned that the United States would face “problems” if the feds tried to indict him.
2 June 2022, 10:54 GMT