Bill Barr, the one-time attorney general under former President Donald Trump, told Fox News on Friday that the ex-president had no “legitimate reason” to hoard classified material at his Florida resort. Furthermore, he defended the Justice Department’s decision to raid Mar-a-Lago, arguing that the DOJ was “being jerked around” by Team Trump.
As a federal judge decides whether or not to grant Trump’s request for a “special master” to review the documents seized from his property last month, the Justice Department revealed on Friday just how careless the former president had been with state secrets at his private club .
In an eight-page inventory list, the department noted that Trump had casually mixed “TOP SECRET” documents with magazines, books, and his wife’s clothes. One box allegedly found in the ex-president’s office also contained “43 empty folders with ‘CLASSIFIED’ banners.” Federal prosecutors are mulling whether to charge Trump with criminal offenses under the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice.
Appearing on Fox News’ America Reports on Friday afternoon, Barr—who has distanced himself from Trump over the ex-president’s election lies—was immediately dismissive of Team Trump’s attempts to appoint a special master.
“Well, I think the whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring,” he flatly stated. He went on to say that Trump’s attorneys haven’t identified any private lawyer communications that should be insulated from government review, adding that everything else appears to be “seizable” by the feds.
DOJ Reveals Trump Kept Secret Docs Among Clothes and Gifts
“What people are missing, all the other documents taken, even if they claim to be executive privilege, either belong to the government because they are government records, even if they are classified, even if they are subject to executive privilege, they still belong to the government and go to the [National Archives],” Barr said.
“And any other documents that were seized, like news clippings and other things in the boxes containing the classified information, those were seizable under the warrant because they show the conditions under which the classified information was being held,” he added. “So I think it’s a red herring. I think it would, you know, at this stage, since they have already gone through the documents, I think it’s a waste of time.”
Co-anchor John Roberts noted that Trump and his allies have claimed the ex-president had a “standing order” to declassify any documents he removed from the White House when he left office.
“Is there any legitimate reason for those materials to be in the former president’s possession?” Roberts asked.
“No. I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they should have been—could be taken out of the government, away from the government if they are classified,” Barr replied. “I frankly am skeptical of the claim that he declassified everything.”
The former AG continued: “You know, because frankly, I think it’s highly improbable, and second, if in fact he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said, ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse and that shows such recklessness it’s almost worse than taking the documents.”
Trump Lawyer Shrugs Off DOJ’s ‘Mundane’ Probe of ‘Espionage’ and ‘Obstruction’
Co-anchor Sandra Smith then said there “are some questions over the timeline” before stating that some critics wonder if “perhaps there was more room for the authorities to obtain these materials without raiding the president’s home.” She asked if the raid “was avoidable” and whether the DOJ could have just issued a second subpoena to obtain the documents, echoing Team Trump’s claims they were “cooperating” with the feds.
Barr, once again, didn’t mean words.
“I think for them to have taken things to the current point they probably have pretty good evidence. But that’s speculation and until we see that it’s hard to say,” he said.
“Let me just say, I think the driver on this from the beginning was, you know, loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago. People say this was unprecedented, well it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club, OK?”
Barr added: “And how long is the government going to try to get that back? They jawbone for a year, they were deceived on the voluntary actions taken, they then went and got a subpoena, they were deceived on that, they feel, and the facts are starting to show, that they were being jerked around and so how long , you know, how long do they wait?!”
In the end, though Barr said he hopes “it doesn’t happen,” the former top attorney in the nation suggested that the DOJ may well indict the former president for hoarding classified documents.
“If they clearly have the president moving stuff around and hiding stuff in his desk and telling people to—they may be inclined to bring the case,” he concluded. “And there are differences of opinion on whether that makes sense. But we really have to know the facts to see, to make a judgment about that.”
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