Donald Trump Might Have Just Condemned Himself With Mar-a-Lago Remarks


Donald Trump has defended his actions regarding his retaining of classified documents, while misinterpreting the Presidential Records Act to mean he is allowed to do “whatever I want.”

In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, the former president hit out at the investigation into his alleged illegal retaining of sensitive materials after he left office in January 2021. Trump is also accused of attempting to obstruct the federal attempt to retrieve the documents from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

He has long denied all wrongdoing, and has frequently accused the Biden administration of having “weaponized” the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) to try to hinder his 2024 presidential campaign. Newsweek has contacted Trump’s legal team for comment via email.

When Hewitt asked about the obstruction charges, and specifically whether Trump ordered anyone to move boxes of documents around Mar-a-Lago to prevent the government finding them, the Republican replied: “I don’t talk about anything. You know why? Because I’m allowed to do whatever I want. I come under the Presidential Records Act.

Donald Trump speaks during an election-night event at Mar-a-Lago on November 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. The former president has said the Presidential Records Act means he can do whatever he wants with regards to his White House documents.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“I’m not telling you. You know, every time I talk to you, oh, I have a breaking story. You don’t have any story. I come under the Presidential Records Act. I’m allowed to do everything I did,” Trump added.

Legal experts have said that the remarks Trump gave to Hewitt could end up being used against him in the federal classified documents trial, which is due to begin in May 2024. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 charges in connection to Special Counsel Jack’s Smith’s probe.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack Smith uses this statement against Trump at trial. Trump thinks he is ‘allowed to do whatever I want.’ The jury will receive instructions from the judge indicating that the law indicates otherwise,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti posted on X, formerly Twitter, while sharing a transcript of the remarks.

George Conway, CNN legal commentator and frequent Trump critic, added on X: “This will make a terrific quote for the Government to use in the first paragraph of its sentencing memorandum.”

This is not the first time that Trump has said he was allowed to retain classified materials under the Presidential Records Act. In a June Truth Social post, the former president wrote that the act means “I’m allowed to do all this,” adding “there was no crime, except for what the DOJ and FBI have been doing against me for years.”

The Presidential Records Act was implemented in the wake of the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal. It means every presidential document must be sent to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) when the president leaves office as the materials in question belong to the government, not the commander in chief personally.

If any outgoing president wishes to have their official documents publicly presented, such as in a library, they must seek permission from NARA.

In a June statement, the administration confirmed that, prior to the end of his administration, Trump “did not communicate any intent to NARA” with regard to funding, building, endowing, and donating a Presidential Library to NARA under the Presidential Libraries Act.

“Accordingly, the Trump Presidential records have been and continue to be maintained by NARA in the Washington, D.C. area, and there was no reason for NARA to consider a temporary facility in Florida or elsewhere,” the administration added.

In June, former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore also falsely said that Trump had a two-year period to sort through all the White House records he had retained so he could organize “what’s personal and what’s presidential.”

NARA denied the suggestion, adding in a statement: “There is no history, practice, or provision in law for presidents to take official records with them when they leave office to sort through, such as for a two-year period as described in some reports.

“If a former President or Vice President finds Presidential records among personal materials, he or she is expected to contact NARA in a timely manner to secure the transfer of those Presidential records to NARA,” the administration added.

Trump is also not charged under the Presidential Records Act. He faces 32 counts of unlawful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to investigators.

Elsewhere during his interview with Hewitt, Trump said he will absolutely testify in the upcoming criminal trials he faces, a move that legal experts said may be a bad move for the former president.

“I wouldn’t trust Donald Trump within 5 feet of a witness box if I were his lawyer,” constitutional law scholar Anthony Michael Kreis told Newsweek. “There’s really no upshot to putting a loose cannon defendant on the stand.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here