‘”Some argue that, criminal or not, you behaved irresponsibly with our national security documents,’ Ms. Kelly said.
Former President Donald Trump told Megyn Kelly, who hosts a podcast on SiriusXM, during an interview that the classified documents case against him showed a clear double standard, and maintained that he did nothing wrong.
She pressed the former president, who is campaigning to run for reelection in 2024, on why he didn’t hand over all the subpoenaed documents before the Mar-a-Lago raid, and pointed to the released audio of a phone call where he mentions a “big pile of papers … highly confidential, secret.”
“Some argue that, criminal or not, you behaved irresponsibly with our national security documents,” Ms. Kelly said.
CNN had obtained the tape of the 2021 call, which appeared to be part of the evidence in the case against President Trump. In a later interview on Fox News, Mr. Trump said he was bluffing when he said he was looking at several classified documents, which he said in the call referenced an attack on Iran. He said what he actually had on his desk was “nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles.”
He refuted Ms. Kelly’s suggestion that he acted irresponsibly and pointed to the fact that he had already defended those actions.
“I’m not going to talk to you about that because that’s already been, I think, very substantiated and there’s no problem with it,” he said.
President Trump attacked the Biden administration prosecution for not giving the former vice president the same treatment for retaining documents. Ms. Kelly added that Hilary Clinton had not only retained but destroyed federal documents.
“What’s crazy is you’re really accused of keeping documents and not turning them over when you were allegedly required to. But you weren’t accused of destroying any documents. Hilary Clinton destroyed documents while under subpoena while under subpoena and wasn’t even charged,” Ms. Kelly said, referencing the 33,000 emails Ms. Clinton kept in a private account on private servers that she then disposed of.
“Does it make you angry?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Hilary Clinton got a subpoena from Congress … that’s the ultimate subpoena.”
“Nothing happened. There’s a double standard in this country, and people aren’t standing for it.”
Presidential Records Act
President Trump noted that the Presidential Records Act is a civil statute, and the case against him makes no mention of it.
“I’m covered by it 100 percent, and this shouldn’t even be a case,” he said.
“Number one, I did nothing wrong, because I come under the Presidential Records Act … This was done in 1978, and it was done for exactly this reason. I’m allowed to have these documents,” he said referencing the law that states sitting presidents have authority over any records created or received by the president. “And, frankly, when I have them, they become unclassified.”
“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he added.
“This was, I guess, started because Richard Nixon kept documents, and so did many other presidents … Bush kept documents, Obama kept documents,” he said, and referenced the “the sock drawer” former President Bill Clinton kept tape recordings in.
The Presidential Records Act states that records are turned over to the National Archives after a president leaves office, but it neither gives the Archive the authority to demand the president hand over records nor does it confer authority of the documents to the Archive if the president does not hand them over. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling stated that the responsibility is left “solely to the president” to keep or dispose of the records as he sees fit.
The case against President Trump isn’t over whether he kept the documents or not, however. He had been subpoenaed for files which the Department of Justice later alleged he illegally withheld.
“This just the Mueller stuff,” he said, referencing the investigation special counsel Robert Mueller headed into whether Russian entities interfered in the 2016 election. “They create a fake crime and then they say you obstructed. This is a fake thing they’ve done … You know what they call obstruction? When you fight them.”
The report Mr. Mueller ultimately submitted did not find any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian entities, though it stated that Russian interference during the election was present.
“You’ve got to fork over the documents, then fight,” Ms. Kelly said, arguing that he should have complied with the subpoena first.
“I have complied with everything,” President Trump said, claiming that the FBI had raided Mar-a-Lago even after he handed over the documents requested. “They took documents they weren’t even allowed to … and I would’ve given it to them.”