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Roy Blunt: Trump 'should have turned over' classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago

Missouri’s senior senator said Sunday he believed former President Donald Trump should have turned over classified documents stored at his Florida home to the federal government, but called for caution and scrutiny in how the FBI’s investigation of the matter is handled.

In an interview on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt also said the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member, would soon be briefed by the director of national intelligence on the investigation. Redacted court records show that highly classified government documents were kept at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, at times in unsecured locations.

“I understand he turned over a lot of documents,” Blunt said. “He should have turned over all of them. I imagine he knows that very well now, as well.”

But Blunt, who is retiring in January after 12 years in the Senate, also implied there could be political motives to the investigation; President Joe Biden has said he had no advance notice of the FBI’s search.

“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 or even the student loan program you and I were going to talk about today,” Blunt said.

From USA TODAY: Trump search affidavit reveals unsecured storage, confidential documents

The comments from Blunt come as Republicans on the national level grapple with how to message in response to a federal investigation into the former president, who remains a leading candidate if he chooses to run for re-election in 2024.

Many party allies in Congress have criticized the search of Mar-a-Lago, which was conducted under approval of a federal judge, as an abuse of power and political attack. Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley argued that the FBI had been “weaponized” by the Biden administration and said “there is deep corruption at the highest levels.”

Blunt calls student loan forgiveness plan ‘unfair’

Blunt also continued to criticize the Biden administration’s plan to forgive some student loan debt under a plan outlined last week. A graduate and former president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, he said Sunday that “higher education is important” but that he believed the plan was wrongheaded.

“I just thought it was monumentally unfair,” Blunt said. “Unfair to people who didn’t go to college because they didn’t think they could afford it, unfair to people who paid their loans back, unfair to people who got higher education in an area that the government didn’t make loans, and just bad economics in addition to that.”

Student loan debt: How many Missourians have student loans? How much do they owe? Will it be forgiven?

When Stephanopoulos said “most economists who looked at it said it’s not going to increase inflation,” Blunt said “most economists are wrong.”

“The administration had been very hesitant to this,” he said. “And here they are doing it right before the election. And I think people know they got their debt forgiven. Other people won’t know the impact that has on them or their taxes between now and Election Day.”

Last week, Blunt called the plan a “handout” and a “one-two punch for hardworking Americans.”

Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at gbacharier@news-leader.com, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.