Trump Defends Retention of Classified Documents in Exclusive Interview
In the first part of a two-part interview with Fox News’ Brett Baier, former President Donald J. Trump passionately defended his retention of classified documents from his presidency. This controversial topic has become one of many legal battles that Trump faces as he campaigns for the 2024 election.
“Everything was declassified because I have the right to declassify,” Trump confidently told Baier in the interview broadcast on June 19.
The interview marks Trump’s first public appearance since his arraignment in Miami on June 13, where he faced charges of mishandling classified documents. The indictment, issued by special counsel Jack Smith, can be read here.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 felony charges, with 31 of them falling under the Espionage Act. Each charge corresponds to a separate document that Trump is accused of improperly retaining in boxes he removed from the White House during the presidential transition process.
Trump firmly believes that he has the right to retain these boxes. “This is purely a Presidential Records Act [thing]. This is not a criminal thing,” he explained to Baier, reiterating his consistent defense of his actions.
In support of his argument, Trump referenced a lawsuit filed by the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The lawsuit involved tapes recorded by former President Bill Clinton with historian Taylor Branch, which Clinton stored in his sock drawer. Judicial Watch claimed that the tapes should have been handed over to NARA at the end of Clinton’s term.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee to the D.C. district court, dismissed the lawsuit, stating that NARA does not have the authority to designate materials as “Presidential records.” Trump referred to this case as the “Clinton socks case.”
“It basically said that a president has every right to keep whatever he wants, and that includes me,” Trump confidently told Baier, referring to Judge Jackson’s decision.
However, some legal experts disagree with Trump’s interpretation, emphasizing the differences between the materials retained by Clinton and Trump. Peter Margulies, a professor at Roger Williams University’s School of Law, explained, “The Clinton materials were audiotapes of conversations with a historian that incidentally recorded some calls on official business. In contrast, the documents that Trump kept were all presidential records from the moment they arrived at the Oval Office from other parts of the government.”
Chris Farrell from Judicial Watch believes that the decision in the “Clinton socks case” directly relates to Trump’s situation. He stated, “[It’s] okay for Bill Clinton, but when you apply the same standard to Donald Trump, suddenly everybody develops amnesia. Nobody knows what you’re talking about.”
During the interview, Trump and Baier engaged in a heated discussion about the “Clinton socks case” and its relevance to Trump’s alleged violations of federal law. Baier pointed out that the question of whether highly classified government national security documents fall into the same category will be fought in the courts.
“It’s already been fought. There’s a decision strongly that you can keep. But I wouldn’t have kept–but they [the FBI] raided my house,” Trump responded.
Trump also criticized NARA, referring to it as a “radical left group.” However, NARA’s former acting head, Debra Steidel Wall, described the organization as “fiercely non-partisan” in August 2022.
The Epoch Times
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