Donald Trump just keeps making his own legal troubles worse.
In a damning interview with Fox News on Monday, the twice-impeached, twice-indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former president pretty much confessed to stealing and hoarding classified documents.
In the interview, Fox host Bret Baier asked Trump directly about several claims in the federal indictment against him.
First, Baier asked Trump why he ignored a May 2022 Justice Department subpoena to hand over any remaining classified documents in his possession. This is a key point in the case against Trump, and Trump’s lawyers had reportedly advised him to hand over all the documents and avoid charges (advice that he ignored).
Trump’s response was to pretty much admit he kept classified documents … but it was only because his golf shirts were in the same boxes.
“Because I had boxes, I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out,” Trump said. “I don’t want to hand that over to [the National Archives and Records Administration] yet. And I was very busy, as you’ve sort of seen.”
Baier went on to cite the indictment against Trump, which found that the former president directly interfered to hide the documents from the Justice Department in response to the subpoena.
As the indictment notes, Trump ordered an aide to move the boxes of classified documents to another location and asked his lawyers to tell the Justice Department he had fully complied with the subpoena when he hadn’t. (The indictment even says Trump told his lawyers things like, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”)
Trump didn’t comment on these charges, but instead replied, “Before I send boxes over, I have to take all of my things out. These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things. Golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes, there were many things.”
In other words, Trump may have committed a crime, but it was only because he was busy and needed to find his golf shirts and shoes … which he kept in the same boxes as highly classified national secrets, as one does.
Later in the interview, Baier asked Trump about a classified Pentagon document he allegedly kept, which details a potential attack on Iran. The Justice Department has an audio recording of Trump in July 2021—months after he had left the White House—bragging to other people in the room about keeping this national security document, and even admitting it was classified.
“You were recorded saying that you had a document detailing a planned attack on another country that was prepared by the U.S. military for you when you were president,” Baier said. “The Iran attack plan. You remember that? You were recorded—”
“You ready?” Trump responded. “It wasn’t a document. I had lots of paper. I had copies of newspaper articles, I had copies of magazines.”
“I know,” Baier replied. “This is specifically a quote. You’re quoted on the recording saying the document was secret, adding that you could have declassified it while you were president, but ‘Now I can’t, you know this is still secret, highly confidential.’ And the indictment cites the recording and the testimony from the people in the room that you showed it to people there that day. So you say on tape that you can’t declassify it, so why have it?”
“When I said I couldn’t declassify it now, that’s because I wasn’t president,” Trump said at first, again admitting that a document existed. “When I’m not president, I can’t declassify.”
When further pressed by Baier, Trump backtracked, saying no document existed and “I didn’t have a document per se.” Trump, in other words, was saying that he was lying to his guests—one of the rare times he said something that had a ring of truth.
The second half of the Fox interview is set to be aired Tuesday evening—and Trump’s bumbling, incoherent statements may very well come up at trial, when he faces 37 criminal charges.