Trump blows hole in stolen document defense with 'bonkers' boast: analyst
During an address to the Faith and Freedom conference over the weekend, Donald Trump cited a New York Times report on his stolen documents indictments and claimed it vindicated his balking at a demand from the Department of Justice to return them.
However, MSNBC analyst Steve Benen said, it did no such thing and the former president's "bonkers" boast was directly contradicted by the report that he likely never read.
As Benen pointed out, Trump told the adoring crowd, "Whatever documents a president decides to take with him, he has the absolute right to take them, he has the absolute right to keep them, or he can give them back to NARA [the National Archives and Records Administration] if he wants. ... That’s the law and it couldn’t be more clear."
Then came Trump's citing the Times, where he claimed, "Even The New York Times, in a major article — big article, they must hate, probably the writer was fired after he said this — but it said that when it comes to asking for documents from former presidents, the only power that NARA has is to say, pretty please. ‘Asking nicely is about all they can do.’ And yet, they reported me to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. They don’t even have the right ask — and if they do ask, they have to be very nice, and I don’t have to give it.”
That was the moment where Trump directed his supporters to a story that not only made no such claim, but poked a hole in a key defense he has been making about the 37-count indictment filed by special counsel Jack Smith.
Writing that Trump -- or whoever wrote his speech -- should have read past the second paragraph where the Times' Michael Shear wrote, "Asking nicely is about all they [the National Archives] can do,” Benen noted there was much more to the story which went on to report, "that while NARA doesn’t have an ability to enforce its requests, after 'asking nicely,' Archives officials can turn to the Justice Department to ensure that laws are properly enforced. NARA can't require people to follow the law, but prosecutors can."
"In other words, Trump told the public that under existing federal law, according to the New York Times, the Archives can merely request that former presidents please follow the law — and if they refuse, NARA simply has to accept and tolerate the intransigence, slinking away in disappointment. But that’s bonkers. Not only is this at odds with how law enforcement works, it’s largely the opposite of what the newspaper actually reported," Benen wrote before bluntly pointing out that an "absolute right” to ignore laws does not exist.
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