Donald Trump famously spent his time in the White House saying and doing things that elicited the response “Donate this man’s body to science so we can figure out what‘s wrong with him as soon as possible.” He’s suggested the US trade Puerto Rico for Greenland; claimed you can get cancer from sound; told people Melania Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un were close personal friends, despite the fact that the two had never met; publicly feuded with a dead man; repeatedly bragged he’d been named “Michigan Man of the Year,” an award that does not exist. This string of inanities, obviously, goes on and on. But last night, Trump added another one to the list that arguably put all the others to shame vis-à-vis the depths of the crazy.
Asked in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity about his “process” for declassifying the government documents the FBI recovered from Mar-a-Lago—which Trump has spent the last month insisting, without evidence, that he did do—the ex-president responded: “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it [to declassify]…if you’re the president of the United States you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified, even by thinking about it…there can be a process but there doesn’t have to be.”
To be clear, that’s Donald Trump claiming he declassified top secret documents with his mind, which has the distinction of being both batshit crazy and not how any of this works, which people who know what they’re talking about were quick to confirm:
Since the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Trump and his allies have repeatedly insisted that he declassified the government documents they uncovered, but when the special master appointed to his case asked Trump’s lawyers this week for actual proof of the supposed declassification, they refused to provide any. To be clear, if the ex-president had declassified the information—and again, former Trump administration aids insist this never happened—he would not have been able to do so just by thinking really, really hard. Is it fully insane that we have to even say that? Yes, yes it is.
Shortly before the interview aired on Fox, Trump suffered a major blow when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Department of Justice, ruling that the FBI can use the classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago as part of its criminal investigation. Previously, federal judge Aileen Cannon had thrown the ex-president a bone and blocked prosecutors from using said documents until a review by a special master was complete. In a move that will no doubt lead to an unhinged series of posts on Truth Social, a three-judge panel called bullshit on Trump’s declassification claims, writing: “Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents.” It then went on to say that even if Trump had declassified the information, it wouldn’t matter anyway because it is the government’s property, not his. “In any event,” the ruling states, “at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal.” While Trump’s allies will undoubtedly have already cooked up some conspiracy theories about the appeals court judges being part of the “deep state,” the panel was made up of two Trump-appointed judges, with the third appointed by Barack Obama.
Trump’s lawyers could still appeal his case to the Supreme Court, and given that SCOTUS is dominated by conservatives, three of whom Trump appointed himself, that’s a worrisome prospect. On the other hand, the justices have ruled against him in the past, and as they say, a broken beer bong is right twice a day.
The appeals court ruling, of course, wasn’t the only legal blow Trump suffered this week. On Wednesday, New York attorney general Letitia James announced a massive lawsuit against the ex-president, several of his adult children, and his company, alleging years of “staggering” fraud. Trump has not yet said if he retroactively made all of the alleged crimes legal in his own head canon, but perhaps a statement from his lawyers is forthcoming.