Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the prolonged imprisonment of his opponents who he says mishandled classified documents.
CNN’s KFile reviewed the former president’s comments, dating back to his first presidential campaign in 2016, from speeches, interviews and comments made on social media.
The former president is in potential legal danger after the Justice Department’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence last month recovered more than 100 classified documents, with the DOJ alleging US government documents were ” likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at the Florida resort as part of an effort to “hinder” the FBI investigation. More than 320 classified documents have now been recovered from Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department said, including more than 100 during the FBI search earlier this month.
Speaking in 2016 about the government’s decision not to indict Hillary Clinton with crimes related to their investigation into her handling of classified documents and use of a private email server while secretary of state, Trump , then a candidate, repeatedly promised that his administration would strictly enforce all rules regarding classified material.
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“On political corruption, we will restore honor to our government,” Trump said in August 2016. “In my administration, I will enforce all laws regarding the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law. »
“One of the first things we need to do is apply all classification rules and enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information,” he said in September 2016.
Speaking in July of that year, Trump said Clinton’s mismanagement “disqualifies” her from public office.
“Any government employee who engages in this kind of behavior would be prohibited from handling classified information,” Trump said. “Again, that alone disqualifies her.”
It wasn’t just Clinton whom Trump criticized, he also repeatedly called for the jailing of other opponents for what he said was mishandling of classified documents.
In 2017, when calls between Trump and foreign governments were leaked, as well as communications between new national security adviser Michael Flynn and foreign governments, Trump suggested those responsible for the leaks should go to jail.
“It’s the most confidential stuff,” Trump said. “Classified. It’s classified. You go to jail when you release stuff like that.
Trump has also repeatedly said that former FBI Director James Comey should be “prosecuted” in tweets pushing unfounded accusations that Comey leaked classified information. A DOJ Inspector General’s report found “no evidence that Comey or his attorneys disclosed the classified information contained in the memos to members of the media.” The IG’s office referred the findings of its report to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, and prosecutors declined to press charges.
“He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted,” said a tweet from Trump in April 2018, with another saying Comey should be in jail.
Trump has also repeatedly and strongly called for the prosecution of his former national security adviser John Bolton. Following the release of Bolton’s memoir from his time in the Trump White House, “The Room Where It Happened,” Trump said the book contained classified information.
A federal judge involved in one of Bolton’s cases found he likely endangered national security with his book, but the judge also dismissed the Trump administration’s attempt to block publication of the book.
In 2020, Trump told Fox News that Bolton should go to jail for “many, many years” for publishing the memoirs.
“Confidential information; he should go to jail for this for many years,” Trump said.
In an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Trump again called for Bolton to be jailed.
“Here’s what he did: he released classified information, highly classified information, and confidential information, all different categories,” Trump said. “John Bolton should never have been allowed to do this. You know, the young sailor who sent a picture to his mother and other people. They go to jail for a long time. You can not do this. And it wasn’t as vital, as important as John Bolton.
Trump tweeted in June 2020 that Bolton had been “washed” until Trump hired him.
“I took it back and gave it a chance,” the tweet read. “[He] broke the law by disseminating classified information, in massive quantities. He must pay a very high price for it, as others have done before him. This should never happen again!!!”
Trump later said in an interview with Brian Kilmeade that regardless of whether Bolton had unknowingly leaked information in his book, “he should go to jail.”
A Justice Department investigation into Bolton was dropped in 2021, and he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” last year that his book “went through a review process. prior to publication” and that it “had been authorized by the team of experts who reviewed it, ardently.
For his part, the former president insisted that he declassify all documents seized during the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, saying in a statement that he had a “standing order” saying “that the documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to Residence were deemed downgraded the moment he removed them.
The search warrant issued by the Justice Department identified possible violations of three laws, none of which depend solely on the classification of information.
In a filing Tuesday evening, the Justice Department alleged that government documents were also “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago as part of an effort to “hinder the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s potential mismanagement. classified materials.
In response, Trump acknowledged in a court filing on Wednesday that classified documents were found at Mar-a-Lago in January, but argued that shouldn’t have been alarming – and shouldn’t have led to the search of Trump’s Florida residence earlier this month.