Former US President Donald Trump, who faces dozens of charges of mishandling classified government documents, defended himself Monday in an interview on Fox News, saying that his too busy prevented him from sorting out the documents that were mixed up with his personal belongings.
Trump appeared last Tuesday before a Miami judge to read 37 charges against him after the FBI found boxes containing classified documents at his residence in Florida last August.
The US Department of Justice accuses Trump, who is running for the White House next year, of violating the Espionage Act and other laws when he carried the documents with him upon leaving office and didn’t hand them over to the National Archives.
When he quickly left the White House in January 2021, Trump told his host Bret Baier on Fox News, in an unusually sharp interview on the conservative channel that supported him during his presidency that aired on Monday evening that his personal belongings mixed with classified government documents.
“In my case, I got it out pretty quickly, but people packed it up and we left, and I had clothes there and all kinds of personal belongings and a lot of things”.
“I have every right to hold these boxes,” Trump claimed.
When asked why he didn’t just hand over the documents when officials asked for them, Trump replied, “I had to go through the boxes and take out all my personal belongings… I don’t want to hand those things over… yet”.
“I’ve been very busy, as you can see to a certain extent,” Trump continued.
In the indictment, the Justice Department described evidence including an audio recording of Trump in July 2021 during a meeting with an author, publisher, and two of his employees, during which the former president presented what he called a highly classified document.
Trump said, according to the accusation, “This is classified information… You see, I, as president, could have declassified it… Now I cannot”.
When Trump asked, who was checking all his answers directly, pressed him to comment on the recording, Trump claimed that what he was showing others “wasn’t a document”.
“I had copies of newspaper articles and copies of magazines with me,” he said, adding, “huge amounts of papers… about Iran and other things… Maybe I showed it, maybe not, but that wasn’t a document”.
Bret Baier raised with Trump the issue of several Republicans who served in his administration and are now either running against him or harshly criticizing him, including Bill Barr, who as attorney general has refused to consider his allegations of election fraud.
And, when Trump repeated his baseless allegations of fraud, Barr confronted him bluntly without regard, saying, “You lost the 2020 election,” and also lost appeals to judges he had previously appointed.
In April, Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million in a legal settlement to voting technology company Dominion, which accused the television giant of promoting Trump’s allegations of election fraud without evidence.