Sep 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Barr: No "legitimate reason" for classified documents to be at Mar-a-Lago

Photo of Bill Barr speaking while raising a finger
William Barr, then-attorney general of the U.S., speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice on Dec. 21, 2020. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Attorney General William Barr on Friday said in an appearance on Fox News that there is no "legitimate reason" for why former President Trump had boxes of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Why it matters: Barr's comments cast doubt on Trump's claims that he had a "standing order" deeming documents taken from the Oval Office to his residence "declassified the moment he removed them."

What he's saying: "I can't think of a legitimate reason why they should have been — could be taken out of government, away from the government if they are classified," Barr, who served under Trump from 2019 to 2020, told Fox News. "I, frankly, am skeptical of the claim that [Trump] declassified everything."

  • "I think it's highly improbable, and second, if in fact he sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them and said, 'I hereby declassify everything in here,' that would be such an abuse and that shows such recklessness, it's almost worse than taking the documents," he said.
  • "Let me just say, I think the driver on this from the beginning was loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago," he noted. "People say this [raid] was unprecedented — well, it's also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put them in a country club."
  • "And how long is the government going to try to get that back? They jawboned for a year, they were deceived on the voluntary actions taken, they went and got a subpoena, they were deceived on that they feel, and the facts are starting to show, that they were being jerked around," he added. "How long do they wait?"
  • Barr also called Trump's demand for a special master a "red herring" and a "waste of time."

Worth noting: Former national security adviser John Bolton, who also worked under Trump, made similar comments saying Trump is "almost certainly" lying about why he had classified material at Mar-a-Lago.

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