Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., argues that an audio recording allegedly obtained by the Justice Department indicates former President Donald Trump had a “clear understanding” that he did not “magically “declassified White House documents.
“For a time at least, there was a half-hearted effort to assert – on the part of Donald Trump – that he could simply downgrade magically, telepathically or mentally. And this (recording) seems to reflect his clear understanding that he had not declassified this document and that it was still classified,” Raskin said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Maryland Democrat’s comments follow reports that federal officials obtained an audio recording in which Trump discussed having in his possession a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran. The recording is from a July 2021 meeting at the former president’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to CNN.
The DOJ is investigating Trump for classified documents found at his home in Mar-a-Lago. The National Archives in January 2022 obtained 15 boxes of presidential material from the Florida estate
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Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the investigation. The former president, in an interview that aired last year, said he could file documents “even on second thought.”
“There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
“If you’re the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even thinking about it,” Trump added. Chairs are responsible for classifying and declassifying documents, but there is a process for doing so.
Raskin said Sunday that the tape could have “a lot” of impact on the Justice Department case because a person’s intent, and whether there is a “consciousness of guilt,” is a ” key ingredient” in criminal cases.
“If a person acts with awareness of their own guilt or awareness of their own potential wrongdoing, it demonstrates that, if they continue nonetheless, there is intent,” Raskin said. “And I understand there were hundreds of documents seized. Many of them were classified. Some of them were top secret. And yet they were deliberately withheld.
Contributor: Marina Pitofsky and Merdie Nzanga, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jamie Raskin challenges Donald Trump over classified documents