Former president Donald Trump's attacks on Hillary Clinton over her emails could soon come back to haunt him, according to former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the National Archives discovered potentially classified information in the boxes of documents former President Donald Trump took with him when he left the White House. Earlier the Washington Post reported that the National Archives has asked the Department of Justice to investigate Trump's mishandling of White House records.
Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, told CNN on Wednesday night that the possible presence of classified White House documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort — where 15 boxes of presidential records reportedly were recently recovered — raises the stakes of any DOJ investigation.
"You're no longer talking about potentially the failure to observe the Presidential Records Act, which is of course is the law that requires the president and the office of the president to preserve all of the president's records, and it maintains that the owner of those records is essentially the American people, not the president himself, but that's basically an administrative statute," McCabe explained. "The mishandling statute, which is the one that penalizes people in government positions for taking classified information knowingly, and bringing it to a place that's not authorized to keep it, that is a criminal statute and it's punishable by a year in jail or some sort of a fine, so yeah, I think it steps up the seriousness here significantly."
After host Don Lemon brought up Trump's "ruthless" attacks on Clinton over her emails, Honig said they now make the former president look "ridiculous" and "hypocritical."
"But legally speaking, it shows that Donald Trump actually has a quite a sophisticated understanding of these laws, the need to preserve documents, especially the need to preserve classified documents," Honig said. "So it sort of takes away that whole ignorance defense — the defense of 'this was an accident, I didn't realize what I was doing, I didn't realize the significance of these documents' — so that's something that I think DOJ is going to be taking a look at and weighing."
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