Former US President, Donald Trump has defended his retention of classified materials after leaving the White House, saying he did not have time to go through the boxes filled with the documents.
“Why not just hand them over then?” Fox anchor Bret Baier asked in Trump’s first interview on Monday June 19 since being arraigned last week on federal charges.
“Because I had boxes. I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out,” Trump responded. “I don’t want to hand that over to [the National Archives] yet. And I was very busy, as you’ve sort of seen.”
Baier noted that the Justice Department’s indictment laid out how Trump allegedly told an aide to move the boxes containing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate while also telling his lawyers to indicate he was cooperating.
“Before I send boxes over, I have to take all of my things out,” Trump said from his club in Bedminster, N.J., where the interview was filmed.
“These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things, golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes, there were many things.”
Asked if he was aware of Iran documents being among the items in the boxes, Trump said, “Not that I know of,” while claiming everything was declassified that he took with him.
Trump pleaded not guilty last Tuesday to charges on 37 counts following a Department of Justice indictment alleging he violated the Espionage Act and obstructed justice in taking classified records from his presidency and refusing to return them.
Trump was indicted in connection with the investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith, with the unsealed document revealing Trump also would face charges on concealing documents and making false statements.
The indictment alleged Trump kept the documents in various rooms of his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, which frequently hosted large events and gatherings. It also alleged Trump on two occasions spoke about specific classified materials with staffers at his New Jersey club who did not have security clearances.