A CNN legal analyst said Monday that former President Donald Trump had “very broad” authority to declassify the documents seized during the raid by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago, saying his decision “cannot be trumped” even if paperwork wasn’t filled out.
“Constitutionally, yes, okay?” Elie Honig said. “The declassification authority rests with the chief executive. That’s the president. The president is not just the head of the executive branch. He is the executive branch. There are all manner of forms and protocols and procedure worksheets that one should follow so it’s done in an orderly matter so people know what’s classified and declassified. But if we’re talking about just the law and constitutionally, the president has the power.” (RELATED: ‘You Have Martyred Donald Trump’: CNN Guest Rips Raid)
Agents from the FBI executed a search warrant at the Florida estate owned by Trump on Aug. 8 as part of a probe into allegations that classified material had reportedly been taken when the former president left office in January 2021. Trump, however, claimed the documents were already declassified.
“It cannot be — no pun intended — it cannot be trumped because one of the agencies in the executive branch has come up with a worksheet that wasn’t filled out,” Honig continued. “So, we do need to keep that in mind. The law allows very broad — perhaps even broader than we like — but the reality is very broad declassification authority.”
“While Trump could have declassified whatever he liked while president, his apparent inability to produce any credible evidence that he actually did so is a genuine problem—particularly against the backdrop of an incumbent president who clearly sees the documents as still classified,” Scott R. Anderson wrote at Lawfare Blog.
Honig and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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