Republican Florida Rep. Byron Donalds had a heated exchanged with CNN White House correspondent Phil Mattingly on Tuesday about the indictment of former President Donald Trump.
Donalds said he is “skeptical of the indictment,” arguing the president has the authority to “dictate” which material is returned to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) within a five-year period under the Presidential Records Act. He also said Trump’s attorneys had communicated with the NARA, and pointed out that the Department of Justice had to get approval from the White House counsel to begin the investigation that led to the raid on Mar-a-Lago.
Mattingly argued that the documents should have been returned to NARA after the agency had “repeatedly” asked for them, a claim Donalds cast doubt on, calling it “an accusation from [Special Counsel] Jack Smith.”
Donalds then argued that the indictment is a “political prosecution” of the former president, claiming that the Justice Department has previously “turned a blind eye” to “significantly worse” mishandling of classified material by other public officials. (RELATED: ‘They’re Coming After You’: Trump Makes First Public Speech Since Indictment, Pledges To ‘Evict’ Joe Biden)
“Hillary Clinton’s documents, her emails, were subpoenaed, they were subpoenaed by the Oversight Committee and she destroyed them,” Donalds said , as Mattingly attempted to interject. “Joe Biden took classified material as a United States senator … They were all over the place. That is a violation, actually, of the Espionage Act. And so there’s been no talk, no dissemination, no investigation of any of those things, yet Jack Smith moves at warp speed against Donald Trump.”
“I don’t want to interrupt you. I just — there is a special counsel investigation into the current president and his handling of documents,” Mattingly shot back. “I think if you want to look at the differences from what we know right now … but we do know that the current president appeared to have voluntarily turned over document, which I think is a pretty stark difference in this case specifically.”