Former top Pence aide Marc Short on Friday rejected a recent claim from former President Trump that presidents can declassify documents by thinking about it, calling the notion “absurd.”
“That’s absurd, obviously,” Short told CBS News. “I think it would make it very difficult for the intelligence community to have a classification system if that was the case.”
Short, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Pence, added that he and the former vice president did not operate on that standard.
Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that presidents can declassify materials simply 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 by thinking about it.”
The former president has repeatedly claimed that he declassified the more than 300 classified documents recovered from his Mar-a-Lago home since he left office. Trump and the Justice Department are currently battling in court over the status of the documents.
Trump’s legal team faced pushback in court this week over its declassification claims. Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master assigned to review documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago, reportedly seemed irked at a meeting on Tuesday when Trump’s team resisted his request to further elaborate on a filing that noted the former president could have declassified the records.
An appeals court also noted this week that “the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified.” The court granted the Justice Department’s appeal to exempt classified documents from the special master’s review.