When the FBI executed a search warrant (not a raid, as Trump’s text to me claims) of classified documents at the former president’s Mar-A-Lago resort, we’ve been given myriad of reasons for why Donald Trump did what he did, even as he’s facing the likelihood of some serious legal trouble.
1) These documents were taken by accident in the January chaos
The first excuse given was that it was a chaotic time in the White House in the final days. It turns out that the president really did expect to stay in office past Jan. 6, further evidence for the committee, and only had a short time to pack. The process was pretty frantic, with aides throwing material into boxes to ship to Mar-A-Lago. This led defenders of the ex-president to claim it was all just an accident. The wrong things were mistakenly taken. Other defenders say it’s hard to know what’s classified and what isn’t sometimes. This excuse is invalidated by the fact that these documents were demanded back as long ago as May. Negotiations had been going on with Trump’s lawyers, and still nearly a dozen boxes of classified documents were at the former President’s private residence.
2) These documents were planted by the FBI
This popular accusation has made the rounds, according to Media Matters, by Trump’s defenders in the media. It’s been invalidated not only by the surveillance evidence, watched by Trump family members, but also every other excuse listed below.
3) Trump was just bringing his work home, like so many hard-working Americans
Amazingly, this new line of Trump defense is trying to flip this to show a bond between Trump and working Americans, bringing work to a golf course and resort. But this argument has no shortage of flaws. First of all, Trump was no longer president, so it’s not “his work” anymore. Also, when you “bring your work home” and the boss doesn’t give permission to do so, that’s a problem. When you refuse to give back those company secrets you took home to your corporation, bad things happen, at least to most Americans.
4) Other presidents took home classified documents
Very quickly, this frequently used “Whataboutism” excuse attempts to claim “everybody does it.” He claimed, without evidence, that Obama took hundreds of millions of documents with him to Chicago, “How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!” And “The Intercept” rushed in to assert that LBJ had done the same when leaving office. Let me know if the excuse “others speed too” gets you out of a ticket.
5) These documents were declassified by Trump
This final “Trump Card” was used by the former president, who claimed to have a “standing order” that any document he actually read would be considered declassified. This argument is undermined by the fact that there is an official procedure for declassification, which doesn’t appear to be followed. Moreover, some U.S. government documents can’t be declassified, no matter what Trump thinks.
Undoubtedly, there will be more such arguments, perhaps claims these documents will be personally confidential, or involve Hunter Biden, and maybe Hillary’s emails. This is just what I have at the writing of this column.
I pray that any damage which may have been done by this potential breach of information is minimal, that our enemies won’t have access to any important data to undermine this country.
Opinion contributor John A. Tures is a politcal science professor at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Twitter account is @JohnTures2.
Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: email@example.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.