There are many reasons why Donald Trump’s claims that he declassified all documents that he took with him from the White House to Mar-a-lago are ridiculous. Not the least of these is that, if the documents truly contain nuclear secrets as suspected, the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 bars any president from declassifying the information.Trump officials explained a number of other reasons to laugh at Trump’s claims.
NEW: Trump & allies have claimed he had a "standing order" to declassify documents from the Oval.
But 18 former top Trump officials say they never heard any such order, and that they believe it to be patently false, w/ @jamiegangel @elizabethstuart https://t.co/Ma1Az0V5xL
— Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb) August 18, 2022
It isn’t just Democrats who say that idea is nonsense. Even some of Trump’s closest officials, including a chief of staff and a national security advisor, agree that there is always some kind of process to declassifying documents and Trump cannot do so without notifying anyone.
According to CNN, former chief of staff to Donald Trump, John Kelly, scoffed at the idea.
‘Nothing approaching an order that foolish was ever given. And I can’t imagine anyone that worked at the White House after me that would have simply shrugged their shoulders and allowed that order to go forward without dying in the ditch trying to stop it.’
Another senior Trump official familiar with the declassification process said that Trump’s claims of having some kind of blanket power to declassify documents that:
‘Total nonsense. If that’s true, where is the order with his signature on it? If that were the case, there would have been tremendous pushback from the Intel Community and DoD, which would almost certainly have become known to Intel and Armed Services Committees on the Hill.’
David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division, the man who investigated the Hillary Clinton email scandal, said that:
‘It can’t just be an idea in his head. Programs and officials would have been notified. There is no evidence they were.’
Another Trump official said quite bluntly that Trump had floated such ideas while in office and “he was counseled that’s not the way it works.’
Former national security director under Trump, John Bolton, told reporters that:
‘If this existed, there had to be some way to memorialize it. The White House counsel had to write it down. Otherwise, how would people throughout the government know what to declassify?’
Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy who specializes in the laws around classification, said:
‘A document that is classified in Washington, DC, is unclassified in Florida — one could say such a thing, but it is nonsensical. And it calls into question the good faith of anyone who would make such a claim.’
Twitter agreed that the claims are ridiculous. Read some of their comments below: