Former President Donald Trump said in a new interview he was reluctant to release boxes of classified documents because he was “busy” and had to search them to remove personal belongings, including golf shirts and shoes.
Trump spoke to Fox News’ Bret Baier in an interview that aired on Sunday. It was the first since he was indicted on 37 counts related to handling sensitive files after leaving the White House. Prosecutors addressed his alleged efforts to obstruct federal investigators in recovering the classified material, and Baier asked the former president why he didn’t return the boxes, even after receiving a government subpoena.
“The only way NARA could ever get this stuff back would be [to say]: ‘Please, please, could we have it back?’” responded Trump, who pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“And they asked for it, they asked for it,” Baier noted. “And then they went to the Justice Department to subpoena you. Then why don’t you just hand them in?”
“Because I had boxes,” Trump said. “I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don’t want to leave that to NARA just yet. And I’ve been very busy, as you kind of saw.”
He went on to address allegations in the indictment that he told an employee to take the boxes to another location after telling lawyers he complied fully: “Before I send the boxes over, must.” I take out all my things.”
“Those boxes were stuffed with all sorts of things,” Trump said. “Golf shirts, clothes, pants, shoes.”
“Iran war plans?” Baier asked.
“Not that I know of,” said the former president.
Trump has repeatedly defended his actions after leaving the Oval Office, saying he has a standing order in the White House to declassify documents and has an “absolute” right under the Presidential Records Act to take whatever he wants. The law clarifies that all materials created or received by the President or his staff in the performance of official duties are the property of the government.
Baier then asked Trump if he still had any sensitive files in his possession, which provoked a violent retaliation from him.
“No, I have nothing, no,” he said. “What worries me is that they took everything. I don’t know what they took. You could stuff it.”