Trump Offers New Defense on Classified Documents

He tells Fox he was too busy to sort them, and they contained personal items such as golf shirts
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2023 6:34 AM CDT
After Fox Grills Trump, Hume Calls It 'Incoherent'
Former President Trump speaks to supporters at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Bedminster, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Former President Trump gave his first interview since being indicted over classified documents, and it proved to be a contentious one at times with Fox News' Bret Baier. Trump reiterated that he had "zero" concern about the legal case, asserting again that he had the right under the Presidential Records Act to take such documents with him, reports Mediaite. The twist making more headlines is that Trump also offered a new defense of his actions, notes USA Today. When Baier pressed him on why he didn't turn over the material when asked, Trump said he had been too busy to properly sort them:

  • Personal items: "I wanted to go through the boxes and get all of my personal things out," he said. "And I was very busy, as you’ve sort of seen." He added: “These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things: golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes, there were many things."

  • Hume reacts: After the interview, Fox's Brit Hume offered a blistering assessment: "His answers on the matters of the law seem to me to verge on incoherent," he said, per the Hill. "He seemed to be saying that the documents were really his and that he didn’t give them back when he was requested to do when they were subpoenaed because, you know, he wasn’t ready to because he sorted them and separated the classified information or whatever from his golf shirts or whatever he was saying. It was not altogether clear what he was saying."
  • The Iran document: In the interview, Trump also rejected the idea that he was recorded talking about having a classified document regarding Iran, which figured into his indictment. "There was no document," Trump said, per the New York Times. "That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. ... I didn’t have a document per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles." The indictment alleges the document was from Gen. Mark A. Milley, but Trump said, "I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a document from Milley."
  • Risky move? It's not typical for a criminal defendant to talk at such length about the charges in their case, but Politico notes that the interview offered perhaps Trump's most expansive public comments yet on the controversy. It also means that both prosecutors and Trump's defense team will likely have to factor his comments into their arguments.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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