Trump toasts if classified records case is proven, says former attorney general

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Sunday defended Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 37-count indictment against Donald Trump, saying that if the allegations according to which the former president deliberately kept hundreds of highly classified documents turned out to be true, so “he’s making a toast.”

“I was shocked at the sensitivity of these documents and their number, … and I believe that the charges under the Espionage Act that he deliberately withheld these documents are solid accounts” , Barr, who served under Trump, said, “Fox News on Sunday.”

“If even half of this is true, then he’s screwed.”

The comments from Barr, who was Trump’s attorney general from February 2019 to December 2020, are notable and came at a time when many other prominent Republicans balked at criticizing the former president and current Republican frontrunner in the 2024 White Home race.

Trump is due in a federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday to make his first appearance on the charges, which include the willful retention of highly sensitive national defense records under the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, misrepresentation, conspiracy and concealment.

Trump told Politico on Saturday that he would continue his presidential campaign, even if convicted in the case, saying “I will never leave.”

Of the 37 charges against Trump, 31 of them relate to classified and top secret documents he kept after leaving the White House in early 2021.

The indictment alleges that Trump randomly stored the documents at his home in Palm Beach, Florida, refused to turn them over to the government, and attempted to hide them from the FBI and even his own attorney after a grand jury issued him a subpoena demanding that he turn over all documents bearing classified marks.

His attorney Alina Habba, who is not representing him in the case, told “Fox News Sunday” that Trump is innocent of the charges and plans to vigorously defend himself in the case.

In the past, Barr has been a fierce defender of Trump, going so far as to appoint his own special counsel to determine whether the FBI opened an investigation into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign over possible ties to Russia based on weak evidence.

But towards the end of his term, Barr’s opinion of Trump soured after the former president tried to pressure the Justice Department to launch bogus voter fraud investigations, in a failed attempt. annul the results of the 2020 presidential election.


Trump has previously defended his retention of classified records, claiming without evidence that he declassified them while in office – a defense his allies have also repeated.

“I stand by the president’s word that he said he did it,” U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan told the “State of the Union” from CNN when asked if he had any evidence to back up Trump’s claim.

However, in previous litigation related to the FBI’s search of his Florida home, Trump’s attorneys have repeatedly refused to make that argument in their court filings, and the indictment also contains evidence that Trump knew he had kept files that remained highly classified.

“As president, I could have declassified it,” the indictment quotes Trump as saying of a military document he allegedly displayed during a meeting at his New Jersey golf club in July 2021. “Now I can’t, you know, because this is still a secret.”

Trump and his allies have also tried to argue separately that the records at the heart of the case are personal in nature and covered by the Presidential Records Act.

β€œHe has every right to have classified documents that he declassifies under the Presidential Records Act,” Habba told Fox News on Sunday.

But Barr said the claim that the documents were Trump’s personal records is “facially ridiculous.”

The documents referenced in the indictment are “official documents” prepared by government intelligence agencies, he said, and are therefore the property of the US government.

“Battle plans for an attack on another country or Department of Defense documents on our capabilities are in no universe the personal documents of Donald J. Trump,” he said.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Rami Ayyub in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Paul Simao)

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