Fact check: Trump’s false and uncorroborated claims in response to the FBI search
Here is a look at the facts, as we know them today, around five of the public arguments Trump and his team have made in the wake of the search.
“Total nonsense,” said one person who served as a senior White House official. “If that’s true, where is the order with his signature on it? If that were the case, there would have been tremendous pushback from the Intel Community and DoD, which would almost certainly have become known to Intel and Armed Services Committees on the Hill.”
But first things first: Trump has shown no corroboration for the claim that he did issue such an order.
The Justice Department said in the court filing this week that Trump’s representatives never asserted that documents had been declassified either when they voluntarily turned over 15 boxes that included 184 unique documents with classification markings in January (after an extended back-and-forth with NARA) or when responding to the grand jury subpoena in June, when they returned another package of documents that included 38 additional unique documents with classification markings.
— CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Elizabeth Stuart and Jeremy Herb contributed to this item.
The claim: The feds could’ve just asked for the documents
In other words: Trump claimed that the Justice Department could have just asked for the documents “LONG ago” even though his team explicitly and inaccurately told the department in June that there were no documents left to ask for. Relatedly, the department has called into question how cooperative Trump’s team was.
In its court filing this week, the department asserted that investigators “developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room” at Mar-a-Lago “and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” They said of the August search: “That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter.”
The claim: It was the bureaucrats’ fault
A GSA spokesperson said in a statement last week that it was Trump’s team, not the GSA, that packed the boxes and that it was Trump’s team, not the GSA, that put these boxes on pallets and shrink-wrapped them for shipping from Trump’s transition office in Virginia. GSA did enter into a support contract for the actual September 2021 shipping, but “not for the packing of the boxes,” the spokesperson said — and “GSA did not examine the contents of the boxes and, accordingly, had no knowledge of the contents prior to shipping.”
It is not clear how many of the government documents recovered at Mar-a-Lago were part of the September 2021 shipments from Virginia. It is theoretically possible that some documents were taken to Mar-a-Lago at other times and in other ways.
– CNN’s Kristen Holmes contributed to this item.
The claim: The FBI may have planted evidence
The claim about possible “planting” is impossible to definitively debunk at this point. Once more, though, Trump and his allies have not shown even a hint of proof that it is true.
The claim: Obama took tens of millions of documents
CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this article.