Ex-official who investigated Hillary Clinton's emails said there would be evidence if Trump declassified documents: 'It can't just be an idea in his head'
President Donald Trump signs bipartisan legislation to halt the flow of opioids into the United States on January 10, 2018 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.
David Laufman said there would be evidence if Trump released the Mar-a-Lago documents.
Laufman, a former DOJ official, investigated Hillary Clinton's handling of classified records.
Trump said he had a "standing order" for the release, but ex-officials have pushed back the claim.
A former Justice Department official has dismissed Trump's claim that he largely declassified all documents kept at Mar-a-Lago, saying if he did there was evidence to back it.
Trump made the claim after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago, Florida residence last week. The search was part of a Justice Department investigation into possible violations of three laws related to the handling of government records. Court documents showed the search seized 11 sets of classified material.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claims he has standing warrants to release documents that were removed from the Oval Office and brought to his home. Presidential records, classified or unclassified, are public property and are maintained by law by the National Archives when a president leaves office.
David Laufman, the former head of the Justice Department's counterintelligence division, dismissed the idea of a standing order or broad declassification.
"It can't just be an idea in his head," Laufman, who led the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and handling of classified documents, told CNN. “Programs and officials would have been notified. There is no evidence of that.”
Presidents have sweeping powers to declassify documents, but former Trump administration officials told CNN there is a process that is being followed. The process typically involves documenting the declassification and notifying authorities such as the CIA, NSA, or Department of Defense, among others.
Laufman had previously said that the documents Trump kept at Mar-a-Lago were particularly "stunning" and "outrageous" because of their level of secrecy. According to court records, a set of documents was labeled "Sensitive Compartmented Information," the highest level of sensitivity that can be attributed to a classified document.
Former Trump White House officials also dismissed Trump's claim that he had a "standing order" to release documents in transit. Two of Trump's former chiefs of staff, John Kelly and Mick Mulvaney, told CNN they had never heard of such an order.
"Nothing approaching an order that stupid has ever been given," said Kelly, who served as chief of staff for nearly a year and a half from 2017 to 2019. "And I can't think of anyone who has worked in the White House after me who would have just shrugged and allowed that order and not die in the ditch to stop it."
CNN spoke to a total of 18 former Trump administration officials, some unnamed, who all said they had never heard of such an order, with some laughing at the idea and suggesting Trump made it up.
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