Donald Trump has issued a partial response to allegations that he mishandled presidential documents in violation, possibly, of federal law. As I understand the reporting on this subject there are four such claims or suggestions: (1) that he improperly took at least 15 boxes of material to Florida after he left office, (2) that while president, he tore up some documents (and ate one), (3) that while president, he flushed documents down the toilet, and (4) that some of the documents he mishandled may have contained classified information.
Trump responded to (1) with happy talk. He strongly denied (3). He didn’t address (2) and (4).
Here’s his statement, which a reader who gets the former president’s “Save America” material was kind enough to send me:
Following collaborative and respectful discussions, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) openly and willingly arranged with President Trump for the transport of boxes that contained letters, records, newspapers, magazines, and various articles. Some of this information will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People.
The media’s characterization of my relationship with NARA is Fake News. It was exactly the opposite! It was a great honor to work with NARA to help formally preserve the Trump Legacy.
The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis, which is different from the accounts being drawn up by the Fake News Media. In fact, it was viewed as routine and “no big deal.” In actuality, I have been told I was under no obligation to give this material based on various legal rulings that have been made over the years. Crooked Hillary Clinton, as an example, deleted and acid washed 32,000 emails and never gave that to the government. Then, they took large amounts of furniture out of the White House. And Bill Clinton kept numerous audio recordings that the archives wanted, but were unsuccessful at getting after going to court. We won’t even mention what is going on with the White House in the current, or various past administrations.
Also, another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book. The Democrats are just using this and the Unselect Committee of political hacks as a camoflauge (sic) for how horribly our Country is doing under the Biden Administration.
Let’s start with the denial of flushing documents. I don’t take much of what Trump says in response to charges of wrongdoing at face value. At the same time, I don’t trust the anti-Trump reporting of Maggie Haberman or the mainstream media in general. For now, therefore, I have no opinion on whether Trump flushed documents down the toilet.
As for Trump’s happy talk about his respectful, collaborative talks with the Archives, I think it’s mush, and misleading mush at that. Trump doesn’t deny that he took more than a dozen boxes of material from the White House and kept them in Florida for a year. Nor does he explain why did this.
He claims that the Archives viewed this matter as “no big deal.” Yet the Archives has referred it to the Justice Department for investigation. Obviously, the Archives considers the unlawful removal and retention of presidential records, including correspondence with Kim Jong Un, a fairly big deal. It’s hard to imagine a conscientious archivist viewing the matter otherwise.
Finally, the fact that Trump didn’t deny tearing up documents — as opposed to flushing them down the toilet — suggests that this claim is true. So does the fact that some documents were torn and taped back together.
Maybe Trump will have more to say about these matters in the coming days. Right now, however, this is where things stand, in my opinion.