Donald Trump has claimed that he cannot be prosecuted for hoarding secret papers amid the ongoing criminal investigation into the former president’s Florida estate from where a tranche of documents were recovered last month.
“You mentioned the word ‘prosecute’. I don’t… I don’t think this is prosecutable. Under the Presidential records Act, there is no retribution or prosecution. You’re supposed to negotiate…,” Mr Trump said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday, calling the situation “unfair”.
He went ahead and claimed that the Secret Service were watching over the documents. “We’re talking about the documents that have been watched over to a certain extent and I would say to a large extent by the secret service if you think about it. But I can’t imagine…” the former president said.
“You used the word prosecution, I don’t hear the word prosecution,” Mr Trump said, but was told by the news anchor that the authorities did not raid anyone else’s house but his.
“But I don’t see how they can prosecute me,” the former president continued.
Around 11,000 documents were seized by the FBI last month — including 100 that bore classification marking — in a court-authorised search of the former president’s house-turned-Palm Beach club Mar-a-Lago.
The FBI launched a criminal investigation to probe whether the records were mishandled or compromised.
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court gave a go-ahead to the Justice Department to resume its use of classified records gathered from Mr Trump’s house, serving a major setback to the former president’s legal arguments.
In a bizarre suggestion in the same interview, Mr Trump said that the FBI was looking for Hillary Clinton’s emails while searching his Mar-a-Lago estate.
“There doesn’t have to be a process [in declassifying documents]… I declassified everything,” said the former president on being asked if there was a process to declassify documents.
He went on to suggest that the FBI was possibly looking for the Clinton emails.
The one-time US president also said that he can declassify top secret government documents just “by thinking about it”.
Asked about the process needed to do that, Mr Trump said: “You know, there’s different people say different things.
“There doesn’t have to be (a process), as I understand it. If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying ‘it’s declassified’, even by thinking about it. Because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it,” he said.