(The Hill) — Former national security adviser John Bolton said in a new interview that former President Donald Trump’s defense after the FBI allegedly found classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate “shows a real level of desperation.”
“When somebody begins to concoct lies like this, it shows a real level of desperation,” Bolton, who was appointed by Trump, told The New York Times.
The now-unsealed search warrant and property receipt indicate the FBI seized 11 sets of classified documents from the Florida estate, including one set labeled as “various classified/TS/SCI documents,” meaning top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information that is required to be viewed in secure facilities.
Trump has said he unilaterally declassified the documents using his presidential authority. Other Trump officials have publicly said the former president had a standing order that any documents taken from the Oval Office to the residence were immediately declassified.
However, Bolton told the Times he had never been told of such an order during his time in the White House or afterward.
“I was never briefed on any such order, procedure, policy when I came in,” Bolton said.
“If he were to say something like that, you would have to memorialize that, so that people would know it existed,” Bolton added.
Authorities said the FBI’s search, which has attracted significant scrutiny and criticism from Trump and his allies, was in connection with its investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act, unlawfully concealed or removed public records or obstructed an investigation.
Bolton told the Times that officials had set up secure facilities at Mar-a-Lago and a property in Bedminster, N.J., both of which Trump regularly visited while president, to view sensitive material, meaning the documents could be viewed while remaining classified.