We know Donald Trump tells a lot of lies. According to The Washington Post, he told 30,573 lies during his presidency, with ever-increasing frequency: six a day during his first year as president; 16 a day during his second; 22 during year three; and a whopping 39 a day in his final year.
But there is one time Donald Trump told the truth: Jan. 23, 2016, at a campaign rally in Sioux Center, Iowa. “My people are so smart – and you know what else they say about my people,” he asked the crowd. “I have the most loyal people. … I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible.”
Incredible? Oh, no, it’s not. Not any longer.
Not after what Trump actions we’ve seen his loyal supporters defend so far. True, he hasn’t (yet) shot anyone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. But, as president, Trump did, according to the Mueller Report, appear willing to accept support of Russian operatives in the 2016 election. He attempted to bribe the president of Ukraine into investigating then-candidate Joe Biden. And he summoned and incited an armed mob to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Yes, defending those actions might once have been considered incredible. No other president would have been able to get away with it. But for the last three weeks, Trump’s loyal supporters have also been defending him for another outrageous move: taking top-secret documents from the White House to his home at Mar-a-Lago.
Based on the facts alone, this should be impossible to defend. After all, the evidence is overwhelming. There’s no doubt that Trump took boxes of White House documents with him to Mar-a-Lago, many of which were classified. As shown in the heavily-redacted Department of Justice affidavit released late last week, among those documents retrieved so far, 184 were marked classified, of which 67 were confidential, 92 were secret, and 25 were top-secret.
There’s also little doubt that running away with such sensitive documents is against the law. On at least three fronts. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 says that all presidential papers belong to the American people, not the president, and must be turned over to the National Archives. The Espionage Act makes it a crime to mishandle top-secret documents. And the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 bans impeding Justice Department access to sensitive documents in a criminal investigation.
There is no defense for so many Republicans rushing to defend Donald Trump, yet again, for the indefensible. This one should be a no-brainer. As former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie observed on ABC, “It shouldn’t be a hard thing to say. That it’s wrong for you to take top-secret, classified documents back to your house.”
Yet, instead of just admitting that what Trump did was wrong, Republicans are attacking the FBI for making a big deal about classified documents – which is especially rich, given that Trump insisted on locking up Hillary Clinton for allegedly having classified documents on her home computer.
Comically, some Republicans say that raiding a former president’s home makes us look like a banana republic. In fact, it’s just the opposite. As Axios reports, since 2000, former leaders of some 76 countries – including Israel, South Korea and France – have been indicted or prosecuted. If Trump is indicted for stealing classified documents, we won’t be doing anything new. We’ll just be joining the club of civilized nations.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is the author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”
Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved. Read more from The Hill at thehill.com
This story was originally published August 30, 2022 8:20 AM.