National Archives Debunks Trump Claims About George Bush

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At a recent Trump rally in Arizona, the former president — as could be expected — ranted to his fawning attendees about the ongoing Justice Department investigation into his handling of classified records from his administration.

That investigation led to the August raid by the FBI on Trump’s southern Florida property Mar-a-Lago, where agents recovered over 100 documents marked classified despite a previously signed statement from a Trump lawyer insisting all documents with an array of classification markings that Trump still harbored were getting returned to authorities following a grand jury subpoena. Trump has used a variety of sometimes contradictory claims in making his attempted defense against concerns about the documents, and in Arizona, he insisted he was being held to a different standard than past presidents like George H.W. Bush, who he claimed stashed records in a completely unsecured bowling alley (well, what remained of it) and old Chinese restaurant. The National Archives fact-checked Donald’s nonsense in a new statement.

“The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, assumed physical and legal custody of the Presidential records from the administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, when those Presidents left office,” as the agency explained. “NARA securely moved these records to temporary facilities that NARA leased from the General Services Administration (GSA), near the locations of the future Presidential Libraries that former Presidents built for NARA. All such temporary facilities met strict archival and security standards, and have been managed and staffed exclusively by NARA employees. Reports that indicate or imply that those Presidential records were in the possession of the former Presidents or their representatives, after they left office, or that the records were housed in substandard conditions, are false and misleading.” That, of course, includes reports originating with comments made by Trump.

Trump’s rant about Bush and the old Chinese restaurant apparently connects to where Bush records were held prior to the finalizing of his library. “Meanwhile, George H.W. Bush took millions and millions of documents to a former bowling alley pieced together with what was then an old and broken Chinese restaurant,” Trump self-confidently insisted. “They put them together. And it had a broken front door and broken windows. Other than that, it was quite secure. There was no security.” A report from The Washington Post spotlights reporting from 1994 by the Associated Press identifying “the old Chimney Hill Bowl” and “what used to be the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant” as a records storage location, but that’s where Trump’s connection with reality gets even thinner. Besides the false implication that Bush was personally responsible for his documents at the time, the location was well-secured. “Uniformed guards patrol the premises. There are closed-circuit television monitors and sophisticated electronic detectors along walls and doors,” the AP said.