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Donald Trump

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Donald Trump last week claimed all the Dept. of Justice had to do was “ask” for the classified documents, and other items the FBI confiscated a week ago Monday, and he would have returned them, while multiple aides reportedly have quoted him saying those items belonged to him.

“Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, the White House counsel and his deputy under President Donald J. Trump, were interviewed by the F.B.I. in connection with boxes of sensitive documents that were stored at Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida after he left office, three people familiar with the matter said,” The New York Times reported.

Both were named as Trump’s representatives to the National Archives, so when the Archives discovered it was missing items, including the highly classified documents, NARA reached out to Philbin.

“Mr. Philbin tried to help the National Archives retrieve the material, two of the people familiar with the discussions said. But the former president repeatedly resisted entreaties from his advisers,” the Times’ Maggie Haberman reported.

“’It’s not theirs, it’s mine,’ several advisers say Mr. Trump told them,” according to the Times.

That’s a different response from the one Trump posted to his Truth Social account last week.

“Number one, it was all declassified,” Trump wrote, a claim experts question.

“Number two,” Trump added, “they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”

“They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago,” he continued in a separate post on Truth Social. “ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.”

Despite NARA retrieving the 15 cartons in January, there were more items they wanted returned. In May Trump was sent a subpoena, and yet those items were not returned.

In June, a Trump lawyer signed a statement saying there were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Two months later, on August 8, the FBI executed the search warrant that reportedly secured 11 sets of classified documents.

The Times added that in June, “officials then used a subpoena to obtain surveillance footage of the hallway outside a storage room at Mar-a-Lago and saw something that alarmed them.”

The Times story doesn't state what “alarmed” them, but Maggie Haberman at the Times on Saturday reported the surveillance footage revealed items being taken out of that locked storage room.

“The Justice Department also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago recorded over a 60-day period, including views from outside the storage room,” Haberman reported. “According to a person briefed on the matter, the footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room.”

“They also received information from at least one witness who indicated that more material might remain at the residence, people familiar with the investigation said,” she added.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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