As it becomes increasingly clear that Donald Trump may have violated the Espionage Act by storing “top secret” government documents at his private residence, the former president has turned to a familiar excuse: Obama did it too.
“President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified. How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!” Trump posted on his social media platform Friday.
But shortly after that, Fox News’ chief political anchor Bret Baier took pains to inform viewers that Trump’s whataboutism is meritless.
“There is a process,” Baier explained, noting that President Obama “followed those processes to get those documents to Chicago.” While “there was a lot of grumbling that they weren’t posted online as promised,” he said, “how they were handled was done by that process.”
“The President Obama documents were handled properly,” Baier added. “And the question is whether there’s a paper trail and a process for these documents if that’s what the Trump lawyers and the former president are arguing.”
Specifically, Trump is claiming that he personally “declassified” all of the documents in question—evoking Michael Scott’s declaration of bankruptcy on The Office—but as Baier also noted on Fox Friday afternoon, it’s not that simple.
“Now that is a big power that the president has, a sweeping power to declassify, but there are also regulations that have to, a process has to take place,” he explained. “It’s not like you wave a wand and say all these boxes are declassified.”