WASHINGTON: Former US president Donald Trump, facing dozens of charges of mishandling classified government sec­rets, defended himself on Monday in an unusually tough interview on conservative-leaning Fox News, saying he had been too “busy” to sort through the documents.

Trump appeared last on Tuesday before a judge in Miami to be formally presented with 37 charges brought by the federal government following an FBI search of his Florida mansion last August.

The Department of Justice accuses Trump — who is vying to win back the White House next year — of violating the Espionage Act and other laws when he removed classified documents upon leaving office and failed to give them up to the National Archives.

The 77-year-old told Fox News host Bret Baier, in an interview broadcast on Monday evening, that as he quickly left the White House in January 2021, his personal belongings were mixed in with government documents.

“In my case, I took it out pretty much in a hurry, but people packed it up and we left. And I had clothing in there, I had all sorts of personal items in there — much stuff.” “I have every right to have those boxes,” he claimed.

When Baier asked why he did not just hand over documents when asked by officials, Trump said: “Because I had boxes — I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don’t want to hand that over... yet.” He added: “I was very busy as you’ve sort of seen.”

In its indictment, the Justice Department described evidence including an audio recording from a July 2021 meeting that Trump, who was no longer president, had with an author, a publisher and two of his staff — none of whom had a US security clearance — in which Trump showed them what he called a “secret” and “highly confidential” document.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2023

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