Republican Wyoming Senator John Barrasso was pressed twice by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” The senator was being questioned about the statement former President Donald Trump made about declassifying information. Trump’s handling of classified material is under federal investigation.
Trump declared that a president can declassify something just by saying it is declassified, or even by just thinking about it. After Stephanopoulos brought it up twice, Sen. Barrasso finally disagreed with Trump’s position.
Trump made the statement while talking with Fox News’s Sean Hannity last week. He said that different people see different things and then described his view of the kind of authority a president has.
“If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it’s declassified. Even by thinking about it,” Trump said.
Stephanopoulos asked if Barrasso agreed, but the senator said he had not heard that Trump made that assertion. He then quickly pivoted to talking about the Department of Justice’s search of Mar-a-Lago. He said that he had never seen a “raid” like that before and believed it was a political move.
Stephanopoulos wasn’t finished with Trump’s statement about declassification and pushed back: “You know that a president can’t declassify documents by thinking about it. Why can’t you say so?”
Barrasso acknowledged that he wanted to get a briefing from the DOJ on the rules of presidential declassification, but he finally relented and said, “I don’t think a president can declassify documents by saying so, by thinking about it.”
Most experts have told the media that a president must document the process of declassification somewhere, whatever the process is that they are using.
Sen. Barrasso pivoted again on “This Week” so that he could criticize President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, focusing on the potential renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran.
Stephanopoulos began the interview by asking Sen. Barrasso to respond to what National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had said in an interview on “This Week.” Sullivan indicated that the White House Administration could simultaneously put pressure on Iran for its treatment of women and protestors and carry on negotiations about nuclear weapons. He said the position is that Iran never has a weapon that they can threaten the world with.
“Did you find his argument convincing for staying in the Iran nuclear talks?” Stephanopoulos asked Barrasso.
“No deal with Iran, George, is a good deal … They continue to claim ‘death to America.’ We cannot allow them to have a nuclear weapon,” Barrasso said.
Stephanopoulos wanted to hear Barrasso talk about the position the GOP has taken with Ukraine. He noted the criticism of some Republicans with the continued aid to the country like Ohio Senate nominee J.D. Vance. And he asked the senator if Democrats were right to warn the nation that if the GOP retakes Congress, they may restrict further support for sending weapons to Ukraine.
Barrasso replied that there was bipartisan support in the House for continued aid to Ukraine.
He also told Stephanopoulos that he thought the White House should move more quickly to provide weapons to Ukraine, and he thought the U.S. should be producing more American energy for our allies in Europe, along with American consumers who are hurting because of the conflict with Russia.
Stephanopoulos also asked Barrasso the same question he had previously asked Sullivan: “Do you believe that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hold on power is secure?”
“I’m not sure,” Barrasso, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. “He is in a deep hole right now and he’s dug this hole. And I thought his statement to the country there really was desperate. It didn’t show really confidence or strength.” He explained that the Foreign Relations Committee is going to have a hearing this week on what more they can do in terms of sanctions against Russia. And he said there was a secure briefing on Thursday of this week in the Senate. They will look at what is happening on the ground in Ukraine.
Barrasso held his own on foreign relations, even though he did not support Trump on declassification.