John Bolton: Trump's 'desperation' around classified docs is 'almost certainly a lie'
Trump Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock John Bolton photo by Christopher Halloran

New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs penned a piece detailing the remarkable similarities between Donald Trump's evolving alibis for how he ended up with classified information in his safe at Mar-a-Lago and his previous scandals.

Trump's first moves were attacking the FBI, alleging they planted evidence, he was a victim, there was a break-in, it was a witch hunt, and he's being attacked by rogue law enforcement. The excuses, justifications and claims expanded from there, but they're all remarkably similar to the playbook Trump has used for over decades, the Times explained. Most visibly, it was part of the plan when an investigation explored whether his political campaign was conspiring with the Russian government in 2016.

"In both instances, he claimed victimization and mixed some facts with a blizzard of misleading statements or falsehoods. His lawyers denied that he had tied his administration’s withholding of vital military aid to Ukraine to Mr. Trump’s desire for investigations into Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden," wrote the Times.

Trump then tried to use classic whataboutism, claiming that Hillary Clinton had 33 million classified documents and somehow sprinkled acid on them. That is false. Then suddenly, it was former President Barack Obama who had 33 million emails that were carted off to Chicago. The National Archives called that a lie on Friday as well.

The report went on to cite the Kash Patel interview in which the Trump administration official claimed that the former president had declassified everything as a former president. According to right-wing writer John Solomon on Fox, Trump had a "standing order" that “documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.”

"That claim would not resolve the investigation. Two of the laws referred to in the search warrant executed this week criminalize the taking or concealment of government records, regardless of whether they had anything to do with national security," the report said. "And laws against taking material with restricted national security information are not dependent on whether the material is technically classified."

John Bolton made it clear that the claim is "almost certainly a lie."

“I was never briefed on any such order, procedure, policy when I came in,” Bolton said, according to the Times. He also said that he'd never been told of something like that while working for Trump's White House nor had he heard of such a thing. “If he were to say something like that, you would have to memorialize that, so that people would know it existed."

He also told the Times that there are secure rooms built for Trump at Bedminster and Mar-a-Lago where sensitive materials could be viewed. So, none of those documents would have to be declassified.

“When somebody begins to concoct lies like this, it shows a real level of desperation," he said.

Trump also released a statement in June saying all documents marked "classified" were returned to the government.

Read the full report at the New York Times piece here.