Mike Pence Aide Blasts Trump Claim He Can Declassify by Thinking: 'Absurd'

Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, blasted Donald Trump's claim that presidents can declassify something by thinking about it, calling the statement "absurd" on Saturday.

Short's comments came during an interview on CBS in response to statements the ex-president made on Fox News on Wednesday.

Last month, the FBI raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, seizing thousands of files including some that were marked classified, as part of an investigation into whether Trump potentially mishandled the materials when he left the White House last year. The former president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in regard to the documents.

In his interview on Fox News, Trump said: "You can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it. Because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending."

Pence Aide Blasts Trump Claim About Declassification
Above, Marc Short takes a phone call on September 19, 2019, in New York City. Short blasted former President Donald Trump's claim that presidents can declassify something by thinking about it, calling the statement "absurd." Drew Angerer

"And it doesn't have to be a process. There can be a process, but there doesn't have to be. You're the president. You make that decision. So when you send it, it's declassified. Because I declassified everything," the ex-president added.

CBS journalist Catherine Herridge then asked Short about Trump's statement.

"Former President Trump told Fox, 'If you're the president of the United States you can declassify it just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it,' is that your understanding?" Herridge said.

"That's absurd, obviously, and I think it would make it very difficult for the intelligence community to have a classification system if that was the case," Short responded.

"So you and the former vice president didn't operate on that standard?" Herridge asked.

"Of course not," Short said.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump's press office for comment.

Short has previously criticized the former president following the FBI's raid. Earlier this month, Short blasted Trump's lawyers after a report in The New York Times was published about how the attorneys may have misled federal investigators about whether Trump turned over all of the classified documents he took from the White House to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

"I think there's also a question about why Trump's lawyers apparently were so misleading, potentially lying in the affidavit saying they returned all the information," Short said at the time on Fox News. "There's a difference between playing a lawyer on TV and actually having good legal counsel."

Trump Suffers a Loss in Court

This week, Trump suffered a loss amid the DOJ's investigation when an appeals court ruled federal officials are allowed to examine classified documents seized from the former president.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday granted the DOJ's request to stop an order handed down by a district judge that had prevented authorities from examining the classified documents and that ordered them to be handed to a third-party examiner. Of the panel of three justices, two of the judges were appointed by Trump and one by former President Barack Obama.

The ruling means that the government is no longer required to hand over documents marked classified to the "special master" that has been appointed in the case for review.