During an interview with TBEN News host Sean Hannity in Mar-a-Lago, which was raided by the FBI last month in search of classified documents, former President Donald Trump claimed the president can declassify material “even by thinking about it.” .
When Hannity asked about the declassification process, Trump replied, “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it.”
“Different people see different things. But as I understand it, it doesn’t have to be. If you are the President of the United States, you can release declassification by saying it is declassification. Even by thinking about it,’ he claimed.
“It doesn’t have to be a process. It can be a process, but it doesn’t have to be. You are the chairman. You make that decision. So if you send it [to Mar-a-Lago or “wherever”], it has been released. We — I released everything,” Trump insisted, even though his lawyers have not argued so in court.
On another legal front, Trump, along with his three oldest children, was charged with corporate and tax fraud earlier Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump summed up his defense against Hannity as “a very strong disclaimer.”
James said investigators in her office were gathering evidence showing Trump has “fraudulently inflated” real estate values for years by billions of dollars in order to unjustly enrich herself and defraud the system. Trump’s use of “objectively false numbers” was “deliberate willful fraud” rather than “an honest mistake,” she added.
Hannity asked Trump about the process of determining the value of his properties.
“Make a caveat that basically says: [that] these are our ratings?” he asked. “Because I don’t know of any credit institution or bank or financial institution that would lend money to anyone and would simply rely on the borrower’s appraisal or evaluation of a particular property.”
“We have a disclaimer,” Trump replied. “My people put it together. I would look into it, and it looked good. But it’s not overly important. What is important is the property. I have the best possession. What happened, Sean, is that we would have a disclaimer on the front. It basically says, you know, get your own people, you’re at your own risk, this was done by management, it wasn’t done by us.”
“So don’t rely on the statement you get,” Trump continued, paraphrasing passages from financial statements of the kind given to Congress and the press years ago by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer. Such a disclaimer could, in fact, protect Trump, some experts have said.
“By the way, it goes on for about a page and a half. It’s a very big disclaimer. It’s a very strong disclaimer,” Trump said. “It actually says to an institution: ‘You are going to borrow money. You have to go out and get your own appraisers, your own lawyers, everything.’”
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