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Trump Goes on Fox and Shows His Weakness

June 22, 2023
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What Donald Trump said this week could come to haunt him.

He got into trouble during an interview with the well-prepared, fair and focused Fox News anchor Bret Baier. Mr. Baier asked Mr. Trump why after leaving office he’d kept “very sensitive national security defense documents like the war plans for a strike on Iran.”

Rather than say the obvious, wise thing—he shouldn’t speak about an ongoing legal case in which he’s involved—Mr. Trump talked freely and in ways sure to create additional political difficulties for him.

Mr. Trump said he had “every right” to take classified documents. He didn’t. He said “everything was declassified.” His lawyers haven’t made that claim. He insisted he acted “like every other president” in leaving office with boxes upon boxes of papers. No other president did what he did.

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In the tall tale spun by Mr. Trump, this was all an innocent accident on his part. The papers he took were “interspersed with all sorts of things—golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes.” Digging through all that would have taken a lot of time, so he grabbed everything as he exited. He didn’t return what the indictment alleges were highly sensitive documents—including ones dealing with war plans—because he’d been “very busy” and didn’t have time to “go through the boxes and get all my personal things.” As if a heavily scheduled retirement is a legitimate reason to ignore months of requests from the National Archives, a subpoena, a visit from the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism unit and a grand-jury indictment. 

It got weirder. There were no classified documents, he claimed, only “newspaper articles . . . copies of articles and magazines.” He held this line even when Mr. Baier pointed out that prosecutors say they have recordings of Mr. Trump at his Bedminster golf club saying the opposite. Mr. Trump also strongly suggested—with no evidence—that the FBI planted classified materials during their Mar-a-Lago search. “They could be stuffing it,” he said. “I don’t know what they put in there.”

Mr. Trump ranged from unpersuasive to incoherent. His comments certainly didn’t help him with the independent voters who’ll decide the 2024 contest. Already, a June 17 CNN/SSRS poll found that by 67% to 33%, independents support indicting Mr. Trump on his handling of the documents. By the same margin, independents said he “put national security at risk” by taking the papers.

Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to have a plan to attract these or other key voters. Mr. Baier asked Mr. Trump how he’d win back suburban women whose defection contributed to the GOP’s loss in 2020. Mr. Trump denied the premise: “I won in 2020 by a lot. OK? Let’s get that straight.”

There were “all of the stuffed ballots,” he told Mr. Baier, and “fake ballots.” When the Fox anchor countered that in more than 50 lawsuits Team Trump didn’t prove any widespread fraud, the former president said he was “trying to get recounts, real recounts”—as if the recounts and audits in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t happen. Wisconsin has “practically admitted it was rigged,” Mr. Trump declared, though that’s not true, either. The former president wasn’t deterred even when Mr. Baier bluntly told him, “You lost the 2020 election.”

Wild 2020 claims didn’t do his acolytes any good in last year’s midterms. Candidates who stressed them lost badly and Mr. Trump’s obsessing about them is bound to drive more voters away—even some who are now generally inclined to vote for him.

What Donald Trump said this week could come to haunt him.

He got into trouble during an interview with the well-prepared, fair and focused Fox News anchor Bret Baier. Mr. Baier asked Mr. Trump why after leaving office he’d kept “very sensitive national security defense documents like the war plans for a strike on Iran.”

Rather than say the obvious, wise thing—he shouldn’t speak about an ongoing legal case in which he’s involved—Mr. Trump talked freely and in ways sure to create additional political difficulties for him.

Read More at the WSJ

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