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EDITORIAL/Documents and Denials: President Trump isn't doing himself any favors

September 23, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

The U.S. Department of Justice and former President Donald J. Trump are at odds over classified documents found during a search of his Palm Beach, Florida, home.

The FBI seized somewhere around 100 classified documents in the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago.

Now the question is whether the former president broke federal law. The DOJ is investigating. President Trump insists he did nothing wrong and this is all a political witch hunt.

On Wednesday, President Trump made an appearance on Sean Hannity's FOX News show. And he doubled down on his claims that as president he has the power to declassify documents at will.

The host asked what process he used to declassify the documents. And President Trump answered he didn't need a process.

"If you're the president of the United States you can declassify just by saying: 'It's declassified.' Even by thinking about it," the former president said. "There 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. I declassified everything."

The president can declassify documents. But there is a process. The agency or agencies that originated the documents must be informed. A president cannot declassify documents just by "thinking about it."

In our view, this is getting out of hand. This whole investigation may indeed be politically motivated, an attempt to derail President Trump's likely 2024 campaign to get back in the White House. But the former president isn't doing himself any favors by such baseless and, frankly, ludicrous assertions.

The best course would be for President Trump to admit he made an ill-advised but innocent mistake with the documents and let his lawyers handle it. It's quite possible that if he makes a pre-emptive mea culpa, this whole thing will never result in any real charges. Unfortunately President Trump seems incapable of ever admitting he was wrong. And so he might just talk himself into court before this is over.

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