Former President Donald Trump has finally addressed the reason he allegedly failed to return boxes of classified documents to the federal government: he’d put his clothes in them.
“Many people have asked me why I had these boxes, why did you want them?” Mr Trump said to supporters at his golf club in Bedminster on Tuesday evening. “The answer, in addition to having every right under the Presidential Records Act, is that these boxes were containing all types of personal belongings — many, many things, shirts and shoes, everything.”
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Mr Trump was arraigned on 37 felony counts relating to his handling classified documents after leaving the presidency in 2021.
For months, Mr Trump has dodged or ignored questions about why he decided to keep custody of a number of boxes of classified documents that the government has alleged he took with him after losing the presidency.
On Tuesday, after his arraignment, that changed. Mr Trump unleashed a barrage of false accusations during his address to supporters in New Jersey, including that a widely-disseminated photograph of boxes piled up in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago were staged. He also accused “someone, not me” of dumping the contents of one of the boxes onto the floor.
Mr Trump then said that he would have gone through the boxes, presumably to weed out the highly classified material from the contents of his wardrobe and memorabilia, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
“I hadn’t had a chance to go through all the boxes,” Mr Trump said. “It’s a long tedious job, it takes a long time — which I was prepared to do, but I have a very busy life. I’ve had a very busy life.”
Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed that his indictment for refusing to give back classified documents is a politically motivated stunt designed to derail his 2024 presidential campaign and called President Joe Biden a “dictator” — a remarkable accusation considering it was Mr Trump who attempted to overthrow the country’s democracy two years ago to prevent Mr Biden from taking office.
Prosecutors will likely take note of Mr Trump’s explanation for why he failed to return the classified documents, the latter part of which may struggle to stand up to legal scrutiny. Mr Trump’s legal team is expected to focus on the argument that Mr Trump was within his rights to keep the documents under the Presidential Records Act.
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