Trump, Bush, a Bowling Alley, and a Chinese Restaurant

Here is what the former president was talking about
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2022 8:30 AM CDT
Why Trump Was Linking Bush to an Old Bowling Alley
Former President Trump speaks at a rally, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

A lot of headlines have been floating around the last few days about former President George HW Bush, a bowling alley, and a Chinese restaurant. The weird combination stems from comments made by former President Trump at a political rally, where he was defending his handling of presidential documents and comparing himself favorably to his predecessors on that front. Now, various outlets have dug in to the comments and sussed them out. Here's a look, via the Washington Post, PolitiFact, and CNN:

  • What Trump said: “George HW Bush took millions and millions of documents to a former bowling alley pieced together with what was then an old and broken Chinese restaurant," the former president said in Arizona on Sunday. "They put them together. And it had a broken front door and broken windows. Other than that, it was quite secure. There was no security.”

  • He did what? As it turns out, Bush documents were indeed stored at a converted bowling alley and in the adjacent former kitchen of a Chinese restaurant in College Station, Texas, while his presidential library was being built. It was all recounted in this 1994 story from the AP.
  • Security: However, while Trump joked about lax security at the set-up, the same AP story recounts: "Uniformed guards patrol the premises. There are closed-circuit television monitors and sophisticated electronic detectors along walls and doors. Some printed material is classified and will remain so for years; it is open only to those with top-secret clearances."
  • Key difference: The assessment at PolitiFact sees a crucial difference between Trump and Bush: "Unlike what appears to have happened with the papers Trump took to his Mar-a-Lago resort, the Bush paper sorting was done with the full cooperation of the National Archives and using standard procedures for security and limiting access to classified material." The CNN piece has a similar take: "Bush did not take millions of documents to a former bowling alley and Chinese restaurant. Rather, the National Archives and Records Administration took Bush’s presidential documents to this facility prior to the opening of the Bush presidential library in the same city."
  • Still: The arrangement sounded pretty odd, and Trump's jokey remarks aren't too far off that of the National Archives official who was in charge: “I’ve told reporters this for the last four years: It’s not just a bowling alley; it’s a bowling alley and a Chinese restaurant,” David Alsobrook said at the time.
  • One view: In his remarks, Trump also spoke of how Bill Clinton and Barack Obama stored documents, but Aaron Blake of the Post digs through the comparisons in detail and finds them to be disingenuous. "Trump is still just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what will stick with his base of supporters," he writes. "But if shoddy whataboutism and baseless accusations are the best he has, he might be in some real trouble."
(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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