SepIn an interview on Thursday, former president Donald Trump refused to clarify if he was holding a newspaper or a secret attack plan during a meeting at his New Jersey resort that has become a key piece of evidence in his indictment over mishandling of classified documents.
During an interview with Trump for her SiriusXM show, Megyn Kelly asked him about an audio recording of the 2021 meeting when he allegedly showed a writer, a publisher, and two of his staff members "some sort of document that you described as secret."
The recording indicates that Trump was holding a classified Pentagon plan to attack Iran. But in an interview on Fox News, Trump claimed that he had a newspaper.
Kelly asked why Trump described the document as "highly confidential" and "secret" if it was just a newspaper. Trump dodged the question, saying it doesn't matter what document he was holding because he was protected by the Presidential Records Act.
"Let me tell you something," he said. "Number one, I did nothing wrong because I come on to the Presidential Records Act. The fascists who are going after me, and they're not going after Biden even though he has about ten times more documents, maybe more than that, he has documents going back 40 years of 50 years."
"I'm allowed to have these documents," Trump said.
When Kelly pressed Trump, not on whether he was legally allowed to have the documents, but about why he would claiming that a newspaper was secret and could have been declassified, Trump again dodged. "I would have to look at it," he said, adding, "I'm not going to talk to you about that because that's already been, I think, very substantiated, and there's no problem with it."
Trump noted that both Mike Pence, his vice president, and Joe Biden have been found in possession of classified documents. The documents Biden had were from before he was president. Trump said he had more protection because he was president.
He also said it made him angry that Hilary Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential race, was never charged for destroying classified documents on her private email server when she was secretary of state. "Yeah, there's a double standard in this country and the people aren't standing for it," Trump said. "People get it."
During the interview Trump also said he didn't recall giving Dr. Anthony Fauci a presidential commendation at the end of his time in office. Kelly grilled the former president about his record on the Covid-19 pandemic and about making Fauci the face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "You made him a star," Kelly said.
Kelly then noted that Trump gave Fauci a presidential commendation and asked if he would "like a do-over on that." Trump said he didn't recall the commendation.
"I don't know who gave him the commendation. I really don't know who gave him the commendation. I wouldn't have done it," Trump said.
"It’s a presidential commendation. One went out to Mark Milley, too," Kelly said.
"Someone probably handed him a commendation," Trump replied, before pivoting and claiming that Fauci, the former chief presidential medical advisor, was "very important in the Biden administration," and that he was "much less important to me."
Trump awarded Fauci a presidential commendation on January 19, 2021, just days before he left office. Fauci was one of more than 50 Operation Warp Speed members who received presidential commendations that day.
During the interview, Kelley said that Fauci is loathed by "many, many millions of Republicans," and "also some Democrats." She questioned why he did not fire Fauci, but instead "made him a star."
Trump used the conversation to tout his record combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, which consumed much of his last year in office. "I never got, I think, the credit that I deserved on Covid," Trump said.
He also used it to take a shot at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination.
“Florida, by the way, was closed," Trump said. "But if you take a look at Henry McMaster, he had his state, South Carolina was open. You take a look at South Dakota, take a look at Tennessee. A lot of the states were not closed. And I allowed, it’s the federalist system. I allowed the governors to do that. I also allowed Democrat governors to do that. But I don’t think any of them, none of them did it."
Trump said that while he "was not a big fan of Fauci," and "didn't listen to him too much," he claimed that DeSantis — whom he called Ron DeSanctimonious — "said the greatest things. I can give you articles. That Fauci is great. He’s wonderful. We love him."
The comments are the series in the latest war-of-words between DeSantis and Trump relitigating lockdowns and vaccination. On Wednesday, the Florida governor recommended state residents under 65 avoid taking new Covid-19 booster shots engineered by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, contradicting recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"Once again, Florida is the first state in the nation to stand up and provide guidance based on truth, not Washington edicts," DeSantis said during Wednesday's press conference seeking to highlight his handling of the pandemic in comparison to the former president. DeSantis has taken shots at Trump for relinquishing too much authority to Fauci, accusing him of jeopardizing American civil liberties.
During another part of the interview Kelly asked Trump whether Biden's age was disqualifying to run for office.
"There was just a poll out: 77 percent of Americans say that Joe Biden at age 80 is too old to be president. Are they right?" Kelly asked.
"No, not, not for the reason of 'old,'" Trump responded. "He’s incompetent. Age is interesting because some people are very sharp and some people do lose it, but you lose it at 40 and 50, also. But no, he’s not too old at all. He’s grossly incompetent."