- Trump claimed he held secret documents at Mar-a-Lago for his presidential library.
- But ex-aides told NBC News he had little interest in the library until the scandal over the files.
- It’s one of a number of explanations Trump’s offered for holding the documents.
Former President Donald Trump claimed that secret documents he was keeping at Mar-a-Lago were destined for his presidential library — but former aides told NBC News it’s a project he’d shown scant interest in.
Following the August 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump and his attorneys have offered a variety of explanations for why he was holding troves of classified documents and other records at his Florida resort.
Trump has claimed that he broadly declassified the documents before leaving office, while his lawyers in recent court appearances and legal filings have focussed on the idea that he was entitled to keep hold of them after leaving office under executive privilege rules.
National security attorneys have told Insider both lines of argument are flawed, arguing that no evidence has emerged to back up the claim he declassified the records, and that most would not be covered under privilege rules.
In an August 22 statement, Trump offered a defense that has not received as much attention, claiming that the documents were destined for the presidential library he was planning to set up.
However, former and current advisors cited by NBC said that Trump had expressed little interest in the idea of a presidential library and devoted little time and energy to the project.
The former president, they said, was more interested in regaining power than in cementing his legacy.
But even if Trump had planned on putting the records in his presidential library, this wouldn’t have justified holding onto them.
In order to feature government records in a presidential library, a president must first hand all records from their administration over to the National Archives, which then sorts through it and provides records on loan.
Highly classified information of the kind retrieved from Mar-a-Lago would also not be eligible for public display, pointed out Barb McQuade, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.
—Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) September 4, 2022
Trump’s attorneys are currently seeking to have an independent official, known as a special master, appointed to review the documents retrieved by the FBI. The DOJ has sought to deny the motion, arguing that it would impede their investigation and damage national security.
Insider has contacted representatives for Trump for comment.
This content was originally published here.