Sep 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

GOP Sen. Barrasso: Trump can't declassify documents by thinking about it

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on ABC's "This Week" disagreed with Trump's claim that presidents can declassify documents by thinking about it.

Why it matters: Barrasso, the chair of the Senate Republican Conference and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is one of several GOP senators to criticize the former president for his comments, while others have sidestepped questions.

What he's saying: “In terms of national security documents, we have to always use extreme caution," Barrasso said. "I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee — we deal with classified information all of the time — and are always very careful. I don’t know anything about the rules for when a president declassifies documents and information.

  • “What I do know and what I’d like to see from a Senate standpoint is I’d like to see the Department of Justice come to us and show us, in a classified setting, what the information is and what they’ve done," he added.
  • “I don’t think a president can declassify documents by saying so, by thinking about it."

The big picture: Several other GOP senators have also rejected Trump's declassification comments, CNN reports.

  • One of Trump's allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said, "The process is probably more complicated than that."
  • Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who sits on the Armed Services Committee, called the handling of classified documents a “very serious” issue, adding, "I think anyone who takes the time to appropriately protect that information and who has taken the time to see what’s in the information would have serious concerns about how items could be accessed if they’re not stored properly."
  • Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told CNN there's a process for declassifying documents that "ought to be adhered to and followed."
  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN, "As I understand the Executive Branch requirements, there is a process that one must go through."
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