A recent report from Rolling Stone has unveiled that Donald Trump, who currently faces felony charges for hoarding classified information, vigorously claimed that the documents in question were rightfully his.
Trump persistently referred to them as “my boxes” and “my documents,” adamantly seeking their return from the Department of Justice (DOJ), despite warnings of potential arrest.
Sources familiar with the matter revealed that Trump’s legal team informed him last month about an impending federal indictment related to the sensitive information.
However, the former president reportedly remained fixated on retrieving what he deemed to be “[his] documents” and “[his] boxes,” even discussing the possibility of his legal team acquiring them from the federal administration.
These sources disclosed on Thursday, June 29, that Trump had engaged in similar conversations over the past few months, consistently asserting that it was unlawful for him to no longer have access to the records seized during the Mar-a-Lago raid.
Trump firmly believed that those documents belonged to him and explored potential legal strategies or court filings to help regain possession, which his lawyers had not yet considered.
The Rolling Stone report shed light on Trump’s false claims made to advisers and confidants throughout a significant portion of his post-presidential period.
According to a source with direct knowledge, Trump even expressed confidence in reclaiming the documents by 2025, anticipating his re-election as president and unrestricted access to sensitive government secrets.
Earlier this month, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation led to allegations against Trump for deliberately retaining classified documents and obstructing justice.
Despite Trump and his campaign’s insistence that the Presidential Records Act supports his position, experts in classification law disagree.
Brian Greer, an attorney with experience in the CIA’s Office of General Counsel, emphasized that the Presidential Records Act does not shield Trump from criminal prosecution under the Espionage Act.
While there may be debate regarding the act’s applicability to Trump’s argument, it certainly does not authorize a former president to obstruct justice by refusing to comply with a valid court-issued subpoena, as alleged in the indictment.
During a recent event for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Trump reiterated his belief that a president has an absolute right to retain any documents upon leaving office or return them to the government if desired.
However, legal experts argue that Trump’s interpretation lacks merit and does not absolve him of potential criminal consequences.