Former President Donald Trump’s comments Wednesday night about his handling of classified documents appeared to contradict statements by his lawyers, and provide potentially important evidence for federal prosecutors investigating whether to charge him with a crime, legal experts say.
Trump’s lawyers told Congress last month that the classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago compound got there by accident. But when questioned about the issue at a CNN town hall, Trump said he had “every right” to take them from the White House.
“I didn’t make a secret of it,” he said. “You know, the boxes were stationed outside the White House, people were taking pictures of it.”
He said he didn’t recall having shown secret material to others, which is a key question prosecutors would want to answer. Disclosing classified material to people not authorized to receive it is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Asked if he showed classified documents to others, he answered, “Not really…I would have the right to,” later adding, “not that I can think of.”
“Trump’s comments hurt him, and what he said is significant,” said John Fishwick, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia who was appointed during the Obama administration.
“Not only do they contradict his legal position, he admits to possession and knowledge of classified documents that he is taking from the White House. Jack Smith will make good use of last night’s town hall and it will help him button up his case.” [Continue reading…]