More than a dozen former Trump administration officials have shot down the former president’s claims that he had a “standing order” to declassify documents that he took to his White House residence from the Oval Office.
Donald Trump and his allies have claimed that the former president has a standing order stipulating that classified documents automatically became declassified when he removed them from the Oval Office in the days since the FBI searched his Florida residence for top-secret materials.
However, 18 officials of the Trump White House have told CNN that they never heard of any such order being issued and said the claim was false.
Laughing at the claims made by Mr Trump, his aides gave descriptions of the notion of a standing order as “foolish”, “complete fiction”, “ludicrous”, “ridiculous”, “laughable”, and “total nonsense”.
One senior official called it “bullsh**” while many others went on record to refute the claims.
Olivia Troye, who was a homeland security adviser to former vice president Mike Pence, described the idea of a blanket declassification “ludicrous”.
She said, “there would be a paper trail of this blanket authority being the case, and in two and a half years of working in national security in the White House, not once did I ever hear this discussed”.
John Kelly, who was Trump’s chief of staff from 2017 to 2019, told the network that: “Nothing approaching an order that foolish was ever given.”
“And I can’t imagine anyone that worked at the White House after me that would have simply shrugged their shoulders and allowed that order to go forward without dying in the ditch trying to stop it.”
His successor, Mick Mulvaney, who took the role of acting White House chief of staff, said he was “not aware of a general standing order”.
“Total nonsense,” another senior White House official said.
“If that’s true, where is the order with his signature on it? If that were the case, there would have been tremendous pushback from the Intel Community and DoD, which would almost certainly have become known to Intel and Armed Services Committees on the Hill.”
The channel said “official after official scoffed” over the claim as it spoke to people who were included in the declassification process, worked with former national security and intelligence officials and White House lawyers.
Mr Trump has used the claim that he had a “standing order” among several other excuses in the explanation which often went against his previous clarifications.
The statement that he had a standing order went against his baseless claims that FBI could have planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago during the raid.
A president has the authority to classify documents. However, a formal process has to be followed. It remains unclear if the former president followed that process.