Trump's ex-lawyer struggles to explain why Trump can magically declassify something he doesn't know exists
Photo: Screen capture

Donald Trump's former lawyer Tim Parlatore appeared on CNN on Sunday to explain how the former president could declassify things with his mind.

Speaking to Parlatore, CNN's Paula Reid asked how someone could claim that they didn't know the documents were at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's residence in Florida, and then turn around and say that he could declassify them with the power of his mind.

Parlatore told her that they were two separate issues. First, there's the issue of Trump not knowing that he had dozens of boxes that contained government documents that were supposed to be returned to the National Archives.

Trump openly admitted taking the documents because "they're mine." In one case, he explained that he stole his documents "transparently" while others, he said, did not.

It's part of his claim that former President Barack Obama stole over 70,000 documents. He later changed the number to 33 million documents he said Obama stole. In fact, Obama gave the documents to the Archives, and the Archives now oversees them, as they do with all such materials from former presidents.

The second issue, Parlatore claims is unrelated, is that the classified documents Trump was found with were declassified with his thoughts.

According to Parlatore, "the processes that are in play in the White House do not match the same level of care if you will, that are done in the intelligence agencies and in the military. And so, marked documents, whether classified or declassified and unclassified document, get mixed in — and this is not just about when packed up to leave. This is about the four years while we're in office. Now, since we submitted this letter, we found out the Archivist has testified that every administration going back to Reagan has had the exact same issue. That's really what we're talking about."

The Archivist testified every president has "mishandled" classified documents. That "mishandling" is having classified and unclassified information together. That's not what Trump is accused of doing that broke the law, however. He's accused of taking the documents, regardless of the classification. When he was informed he had them, he refused for over a year to return them.

Even while at the White House, no president can magically declassify something with their mind. There's always a process that includes a paper trail of some kind, as Charlie Savage explained for the New York Times. Trump claimed there was a "standing order" that gave him that right. There was "no credible evidence" of a standing order.

Parlatore also complained that there were a number of Republicans "in the tent" preventing him from "doing what I need to do as a lawyer." He said it was the reason that he left.

He specifically named Boris Epshteyn for making his life a lot more difficult in trying to do his job, particularly when it came to searching other Trump locations for documents. Epshteyn specifically didn't want Parlatore to search Bedminster, a Trump property in New Jersey, and Parlatore never knew why, he said.

See the interview in the video below or at the link below:

Ex-Trump attorney explains why he left Trump's legal team