National Security

These GOP figures have knocked Trump over Mar-a-Lago docs

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 3, 2022.

Many Republicans have rallied to former President Trump’s defense over the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago home, echoing his claims that the move was politically motivated and unjustified.

However, a number of GOP figures have broken ranks to defend the Department of Justice (DOJ) and critique Trump’s handling of classified material.

Newly unsealed records show FBI agents found more than 100 classified documents at the Palm Beach, Fla., resort — as well as dozens of empty folders marked as classified in Trump’s personal office.

Trump and his team have given conflicting defenses for how and why the classified documents ended up there.

These GOP figures have knocked the former president over the revelations.

William Barr

Trump’s former attorney general (AG) William Barr said last week that the DOJ probably has “pretty good evidence” against the former president to have reached this point in its investigation.

“I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they should have been, could be taken out of the government, away from the government, if they’re classified,” Barr said of the classified documents Friday on Fox News.

He also hit back on criticism of the search of the former president’s home as “unprecedented.” 

“I think the driver on this from the beginning was loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago. People say this was unprecedented. Well, it’s also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club,” Barr said.

Trump then slammed Barr on his Truth Social platform, calling the former AG a “weak and pathetic RINO,” or “Republican in name only.” 

John Bolton

Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said last month that the former president’s varying explanations for and defenses of the documents found at his home show “a real level of desperation.”

Some Trump officials have claimed the then-president had a standing order to declassify documents — but Bolton, who served under Trump from 2018 to 2019, said he wasn’t aware of any such order during his tenure.

Bolton said on CBS News last week that Trump’s handling of the documents “shows a real disdain for the seriousness of the classification at issue,” noting that most offices would be very clear and careful in handling such sensitive material.

“This to me is more evidence that Donald Trump didn’t give much attention to the sensitivity of the classified information,” Bolton said.

Karl Rove

Karl Rove, who was a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush, said last week that Trump “had no legal authority” to take the classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. 

“Why he was holding on to these materials when he had no legal authority to do so under the Presidential Records Act is beyond me,” Rove said on Fox News.

In keeping the documents, Rove said, Trump took “the property of the American people.” 

“A president does not have the right to leave the White House and pick and choose what documents he wants to take with him,” Rove said.

Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney, who recently lost her reelection bid to Trump-backed Harriet Hageman in Wyoming’s GOP primary, stood firm in refuting the former president after the Mar-a-Lago search.

“Yet more indefensible conduct by Donald Trump revealed this morning,” Cheney said on Twitter last week, sharing the now widely circulated photo of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. 

Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump and now sits on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Alyssa Farah Griffin

Former White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin on Sunday knocked Trump’s handling of the classified material.

Griffin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that there are “very specific protocols” for how such documents should be handled, even for those within government.

“There is no way that this is acceptable if you don’t believe in a two-tiered system of justice where a former president is above the law,” she added.

Griffin floated the possibility that Trump may have taken the classified documents unknowingly — but also questioned whether the former president may have kept the documents for later use as “leverage” to “help his future political ambitions.” 

Charlie Dent

Former Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent (R) on Saturday pushed back against outrage from Trump and his supporters over the FBI search.

“If any member of Congress absconded with classified material, I can assure you that a G-man, somebody from the FBI, would have showed up at their homes and demanded that they return that information,” Dent said on CNN. 

At a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Saturday night — his first after the search of his home — Trump lambasted the FBI for the Mar-a-Lago search, knocking it as “one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history.” 

Tags charlie dent Donald Trump FBI FBI search warrant John Bolton Karl Rove Karl Rove Larry Hogan Liz Cheney Liz Cheney Mar-a-Lago Michael McCaul William Barr William Barr

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