During a recent two-part interview with Fox News’s Brett Baier, former U.S. President Donald Trump presented his defense regarding the retention of classified documents from his term, a legal challenge he currently faces amidst his 2024 campaign.
In the interview that aired on June 19, Trump declared, “Everything was declassified because I have the right to declassify.”
Trump’s first interview since Miami arraignment
Trump’s interview marked his first public appearance since his Miami arraignment on June 13 over alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Facing 37 felony charges, Trump has entered a plea of not guilty. Of the 37 charges, 31 fall under the Espionage Act, each corresponding to a document he allegedly retained improperly in boxes taken before vacating the White House.
Trump says matter is not a criminal one
Trump argued, “I have every right to those boxes.” He insisted that this is a matter pertaining to the Presidential Records Act and not a criminal case, a stance he’s maintained throughout his defense.
He also referenced a previous lawsuit by the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in line with his past defenses.
This suit pertained to tapes recorded by Bill Clinton during his presidency with historian Taylor Branch, which was later stored in Clinton’s sock drawer. ‘
Trump references ‘Clinton socks case’
The tapes were not handed over to NARA after Clinton’s final term ended, an action that Trump frequently refers to as the “Clinton socks case.”
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama-appointed judge of the D.C. district court, ruled against the lawsuit.
In her 2012 opinion, she noted that “NARA does not have the authority to designate materials as ‘Presidential records,’ NARA does not have the tapes in question, and NARA lacks any right, duty, or means to seize control of them.”
Trump argues he had the right to keep the documents
Interpreting the ruling, Trump asserted, “It basically said that a president has every right to keep whatever he wants, and that includes me.”
Contrarily, some legal experts have argued that the nature of the materials retained by Clinton and Trump is significantly different.
Legal experts weigh in on Trump case
According to Peter Margulies, a professor at Roger Williams University’s School of Law, “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,” he said.
However, Chris Farrell from Judicial Watch stated that the ruling applies to Trump’s case as well, pointing out a double standard: “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.”
Boxes also contain golf shirts, clothing, other items
During the interview, Trump stated that the boxes contained various items, including golf shirts, clothing, pants, and shoes. He admitted to hastily removing these items from the White House, similar to other presidents.
He pledged to sift through the boxes and expressed reluctance to hand them over to NARA without doing so first.
Could the Biden admin be setting Trump up?
Trump suggested that the current Biden administration might be planting evidence in the seized boxes from his Mar-a-Lago estate.
“I don’t know what they took. They could be stuffing it. I don’t know what they put in there,” he contended.
Wrapping up his interview with Fox News, Trump expressed his sentiment about the unfair treatment he believes he’s received, rema