Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) on Sunday defended former President Trump in the wake of an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property but noted Trump “should have turned over all” of the classified documents authorities said he kept after he left the White House.
“I understand he turned over a lot of documents. He should have turned over all of them. I imagine he knows that very well now as well,” Blunt said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Blunt avoided answering several questions about whether Trump was right to take the sensitive material from the White House to his Palm Beach, Fla., resort before conceding that the former president should have turned the documents over to the National Archives, as required by the Presidential Records Act.
“He should have turned the documents over and apparently had turned a number of documents over… What I wonder about is why this could go on for almost two years and less than 100 days before the election, suddenly, we’re talking about this rather than the economy or inflation,” Blunt said.
Blunt questioned the timing of the investigation so close to this year’s midterms, as well as why the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Director of National Intelligence hadn’t flagged the issue to the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member.
“Why hadn’t we heard anything about this, in fact, if the administration was concerned that there was a national security problem?”
The FBI seized 11 sets of classified material from Mar-a-Lago when it executed a search warrant there earlier this month. An unsealed warrant indicates Trump is under investigation for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other laws in relation to the documents.
The affidavit justifying the FBI’s search warrant for Mar-a-Lago was released in redacted form last week.
The Missouri senator also tried to draw parallels between Trump’s case and that of Hillary Clinton, who was under FBI investigation for mishandling emails while she served as secretary of state. But he also acknowledged that sensitive government information should be handled appropriately.
“You should be careful with classified documents. I’ve had access to documents like that for a long time. I’m incredibly careful,” Blunt said.