Presidential historian: Way Trump obtained, kept classified material is unprecedented
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss on Sunday said former President Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left office did not align with the actions taken by his predecessors.
“We have never in history seen a former president take ultra-classified documents, stick them in his basement, loosely watched by government standards, and with the shadow of we still don’t know what his motive was,” Beschloss said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The FBI executed a search warrant of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property on Monday in connection with the agency’s investigation into his handling of classified documents and whether he violated the Espionage Act.
The agency said in now-unsealed court documents that it seized 11 sets of classified documents, including one set labeled as “various classified/TS/SCI documents,” meaning top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information.
Trump defended himself after the search by saying he declassified the documents and claiming the Biden administration weaponized the agency. He has also claimed without evidence that former President Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, with “much” of them being classified.
“President Trump is absolutely right,” Beschloss said on NBC when asked about Trump’s claim.
“Barack Obama has tens of millions of documents, and they are in a National Archives installation, Hoffman Estates, Ill., under armed guard with heavy surveillance, using the procedures that are supposed to be used for a former president,” he added.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has also debunked Trump’s claim, saying it maintains classified Obama records in a government facility in the Washington, D.C., area.
“As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration,” the agency said in a statement.
Beschloss on NBC also detailed how presidents before Obama handled their records, referencing former President Eisenhower’s documents being kept on a military base as one example.
“This is not something that we have seen before,” Beschloss said. “Don’t think this is normal procedure.”