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Trump said he could declassify documents with his mind, but he may have also accidentally admitted to taking them 'intentionally,' NYT reporter says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/24/2022 tmitchell@insider.com (Taiyler Simone Mitchell)
Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Sean Hannity (L) interviews U.S. President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on September 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images © Ethan Miller/Getty Images Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Sean Hannity (L) interviews U.S. President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on September 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images
  • Former President Donald Trump said Presidents could declassify documents "even by thinking about it."
  • Based on a previous interview, a political analyst says he may have "intended to send the boxes of materials."
  • Trump's claim may go against the idea that documents ended up in his home accidentally.

CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman said former President Donald Trump may have inadvertently deviated from the narrative that classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago ended up there accidentally.

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Trump made the unfounded claim that Presidents are able to declassify documents simply by "saying: 'It's declassified'" or "even by thinking about it."

"Because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago, or to wherever you're sending it," Trump told Hannity on Wednesday. "You're the president, you make that decision. So when you send it, it's declassified. I declassified everything," Trump added.

On a Friday episode of CNN New Day, Haberman fixated on Trump's phrase "you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago."

She argued the statement "seemed to indicate that he had intended to send the boxes of materials to his private club and home. Whereas there has been this line from people around him that this was all an accident, things were just shipped out."

Two sources familiar with the Mar-a-Lago raid and the DOJ'S investigation into the documents told NBC News in August that Trump's aides were hastily packing up documents near the end of his presidency — one of several possible justifications for the matter

"So they've tried leaning in on the idea that this was some kind of accident and just now he seemed to suggest that this was intentional," Haberman added. 

Trump also claimed the FBI planted information in Mar-a-Lago during the August raid, but then seemingly undermined the allegation.

"There seems to be confusion as to the 'picture' where documents were sloppily thrown on the floor and then released photographically for the world to see, as if that's what the FBI found when they broke into my home," Trump wrote in a September 1 Truth Social post: "Wrong!"

He added: "They took them out of cartons and spread them around on the carpet, making it look like a big 'find' for them. They dropped them, not me - Very deceiving…And remember, we could have NO representative, including lawyers, present during the Raid. They were told to wait outside."

Haberman is a White House Correspondent for the New York Times and a political analyst for CNN who has followed Trump extensively throughout his political career. Her upcoming book, "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," discusses details about how Trump handled his defeat in the 2020 election, including his attempt to seek advice from White House aides on whether he should refuse to leave office.

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Haberman and CNN hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar went on to discuss more about Trump, including the civil suit New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed against him.

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