Disgraced, one-term, twice-impeached former president Donald Trump told aides that he wanted to make a deal with the National Archives to return classified and top secret documents he stole from the White House and spirited away to his Mar-a-Lago resort in exchange for “sensitive” documents that he was convinced would prove his 2016 campaign did not conspire with Russia to guarantee he was elected.
According to Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt of The New York Times:
Mr. Trump, still determined to show he had been wronged by the F.B.I. investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, was angry with the National Archives and Records Administration for its unwillingness to hand over a batch of sensitive documents that he thought proved his claims,” before adding, “In exchange for those documents, Mr. Trump told advisers, he would return to the National Archives the boxes of material he had taken to Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Trump’s aides “never pursued” his harebrained plan, but the very mention of such a scheme “…demonstrates how Mr. Trump spent a year and a half deflecting, delaying and sometimes leading aides to dissemble when it came to demands from the National Archives and ultimately the Justice Department to return the material he had taken, interviews and documents show.”
In doing so, Trump may have opened members of his staff and even his attorneys up to charges of obstructing justice, if only because they didn’t immediately report his actions to federal authorities.
The Justice Department believes the failed ex-president still has classified materials in his possession, according to a separate report from The Times.
A top Justice Department official told former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks that the department believed he had not returned all the documents he took when he left the White House, according to two people briefed on the matter.
The outreach from the official, Jay I. Bratt, who leads the department’s counterintelligence operations, is the most concrete indication yet that investigators remain skeptical that Mr. Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents the former president was supposed to have turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term.