Former President Donald Trump just cannot stop talking about the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago, acknowledging on Sunday that the FBI did take stacks of boxes but demanding the documents be returned because they were protected by either executive or attorney-client privilege.
The claim added two new excuses to his and his supporters’ ever-evolving list of reasons as to why the raid was unlawful, inappropriate, fruitless, overly intrusive, no big deal, or a mix of all five.
“Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken,” Trump wrote on Truth Social Sunday morning, almost a week after the raid.
“By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!”
Trump and his acolytes have offered a Rolodex of reasons to prove the president’s supposed innocence, many of which were increasingly less rooted in reality as they tried to blame President Joe Biden and the Department of Justice for a political attack.
“I sort of like the fact that he’s continuing to talk,” former US Attorney Joyce Vance told MSNBC on Sunday. “I bet the people at DOJ do too because he’s going through a shifting array of potential defenses and as soon as one fails, he’s on to something new.”
Trump’s children initially stated the FBI wouldn’t find anything, and that Trump returned everything he was supposed to earlier this year. Once news broke that the National Archives knew of additional material still his Florida estate, Trump claimed officials only needed to ask for back and he would have happily complied (despite Trump being issued a subpoena). Trump lawyers then began to float ideas that the FBI planted evidence at the compound, only to turn around and claim that Trump probably declassified—or could have declassified—the material.
Other GOP representatives, along with Trump himself, touted Trump’s penchant for declassification. Some argued Trump had a standing order to declassify everything he took with him to the White House residence, and Trump himself wrote how “it was all declassified.” No documentation has surfaced to support that claim, but that has not stopped some officials from suggesting otherwise.
“This is a key fact that most Americans are missing: President Trump, as the sitting president is the unilateral authority for declassification,” Kash Patel, a former Trump administration official, said on Fox Business Network Sunday morning. “He can literally stand over the documents and say these are now declassified and that is done with definitive action immediately.”
It echoed comments Patel made to Breitbart News last week, where he said the documents had been declassified yet the markings had not been updated.
“Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves,” he said.
He did not explain why Trump never bothered to release these documents nearly two years after he lost the 2020 election.