Donald Trump was warned that the records he was holding on to were illegally retained, but the former president refused to give them back because he disagreed with that assertion, a new report claims.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Mr Trump flat-out refused to return boxes of documents, including some that apparently were marked classified, when approached by his former deputy White House counsel, Patrick Philbin.
And he wasn’t alone – multiple other aides to the president reportedly told him the same thing. But Mr Trump resisted, telling them “it’s not theirs, it’s mine” on several occaisions, referring to the stash of documents.
The new reporting could help the Justice Department prove its case if charges are brought against him for the retention of classified materials, as it demonstrates that Mr Trump could or should have known that what he was doing was criminal in nature.
The former president has rolled through a number of conspiracies and thin defences since the raid at his estate last Monday. He has baselessly accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of doing the same thing, while also speculating that FBI agents will plant incriminating evidence in the boxes seized from his residence.
His escalating rhetoric against the bureau has led to a dramatic rise in threats, according to officials, since the Mar-a-Lago search including an armed protest in front of a Phoenix FBI building and a gunman attacking a FBI headquarters in Cincinnatti before dying in a shootout with police.
Over the weekend the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint memo detailing the enhanced threat environment, and a statement to The Independent about the threats they have seen on social media and other platforms.
"The FBI is always concerned about violence and threats of violence to law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI. We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous. As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately,” a spokesperson for the agency said on Monday.