House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday questioned former President Trump’s defense that he had declassified documents seized by the FBI at his Mar-a-Lago estate last week.
“We should determine whether there was any effort during the presidency to go through the process of declassification,” Schiff told CBS “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan.
“I’ve seen no evidence of that, nor have they presented any evidence of that,” Schiff added.
After the agency said it seized 11 sets of classified documents, Trump wrote on Truth Social that “it was all declassified,” referencing a sitting president’s wide authority to declassify documents.
Fox News on Friday evening read a statement from the former president’s office claiming how the documents were declassified.
“President Trump, in order to prepare for work the next day, often took documents, including classified documents, from the Oval Office to the residence,” the statement read. “He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.”
Schiff on CBS noted that the FBI is examining potential violations of federal law that do not rely on the documents being classified.
“A former president has no declassification authority,” Schiff said. “The idea that 18 months after the fact Donald Trump could simply announce, ‘Well, I’m retroactively declassifying’ or ‘Whatever I took home had the effect of declassifying them,’ is absurd.”
The Democrat also condemned many GOP lawmakers’ attacks of the Department of Justice and the FBI since the search, which include some calls to defund the agency.
“The reaction of many of my Republican colleagues and those around the former president to attack the FBI over this and endanger FBI agents is just another damaging level of irresponsibility,” Schiff told Brennan.