Trump on why he didn’t turn over documents: I was busy

Trump on why he didn’t turn over documents: I was busy

Former President Donald Trump late Monday defended his handling of sensitive documents at his Florida estate by claiming he was “very busy” when the National Archives and Records Administration demanded papers mingled with golf clothes and personal items.

He also repeated his belief that persons seeking the documents might have planted things in his boxes.

“I don’t know what they took,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “They could be stuffing it. I don’t know what they put in there. And we wanted to be there when they were taking [the boxes]. They wouldn’t let anybody in the room. They have never treated a president like this.”

In a tense back-and-forth with Mr. Baier, Mr. Trump said he had to go through his things before he turned any boxes over to the archives.

“Like every other president, I take things out. And in my case, I took it out pretty much in a hurry. But people packed it up, and we left. I had clothing in there, I had all sorts of personal items in there — much, much stuff,” he said. “I want[ed] to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don’t want to hand that over to NARA yet. And I was very busy as you’ve sort of seen.”

Mr. Trump faces more than 30 criminal counts in a federal indictment that was handed up this month by a grand jury in Miami. It alleges he unlawfully stored classified documents related to nuclear and military secrets, among other papers, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and obstructed efforts to return them to the National Archives. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

Mr. Trump says the case is a witch hunt designed to thwart his political ambitions and argues his declassification as president entitled him to the documents.

Pressed on whether he resisted a subpoena for the documents instead of complying, Mr. Trump repeated that he had to go through his personal things out of his boxes.

“Before I send boxes over, I have to take all of my things out,” Mr. Trump said. “These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things, golf shirts, clothing, pants shoes, there were many things.”

Mr. Trump also rejected a part of the indictment that says he waved around a document with military plans to attack Iran.

“That was a massive amount of papers and everything else, talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not. That was not a document. I didn’t have any document per se,” Mr. Trump said. “There was nothing to declassify, these were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles.”

Mr. Trump said the raid on Mar-a-Lago in 2022 was unfair and said he is being treated unfairly compared to former presidents and President Biden, who had classified documents mixed with other papers at a Washington office and at his Delaware home.

Vice President Mike Pence returned classified documents that were mixed in with papers at his Indiana home.

Legal experts say Mr. Trump’s case stands apart because of his alleged reluctance to turn the documents over to archivists once they were discovered.

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