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Trump says presidents can declassify documents thinking about it ‘absurd’

Former senior Pence official Marc Short on Friday dismissed a recent claim by former President Trump that presidents can declassify documents on reflection, calling the notion “absurd.”

“It’s absurd, obviously,” Short told CBS News. “I think it would be very difficult for the intelligence community to have a classification system if that were the case.”

Short, who served as former Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, added that he and the former vice president were not operating by that standard.

Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that presidents can declassify documents just by “thinking about it.”

“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” Trump said. “If you’re the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even thinking about it.

The former president has repeatedly claimed that he has declassified the more than 300 classified documents recovered from his home in Mar-a-Lago since he left office. Trump and the Justice Department are currently fighting in court over the status of the documents.

Trump’s legal team was pushed back to court this week over their declassification requests. Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master assigned to review the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago, reportedly appeared upset in a meeting on Tuesday when Trump’s team resisted his request to further develop a dossier indicating that the ex-president could have declassified the files.

An appeals court also noted this week that “the record contains no evidence that any of these records have been declassified.” The court upheld the Justice Department’s appeal to exempt the classified documents from the special master’s review.

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