Donald Trump took classified documents from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago estate as a “get out of jail free card” in the event the government should try to pursue charges against him after he left office, his former attorney Michael Cohen hypothesized.
“That’s exactly what he saw in those documents,” Cohen said on the “Salon Talks” podcast. ”‘You want to play with me? Really? I was the former president of the United States. I have documents that are so damaging to this country’s national security. Go ahead, indict me, try to throw me in prison. See what happens.’ What happens is he turns over all this classified information, not as if he hasn’t already done it, but he turns all his classified information over to our adversaries, right? ‘You want to play that game? No problem!’”
He said his former boss would do “anything and everything in order to protect himself, plain and simple.”
“He doesn’t care about this country. He doesn’t care about democracy. He doesn’t care about QAnon,” he added. “He doesn’t care about the independents. He doesn’t care about Republicans or Democrats. He cares about one thing and only one thing and that’s Donald J. Trump.”
Cohen and others have made similar predictions since the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Florida compound on Aug. 8 to retrieve sensitive government documents he unlawfully took there. During a CNN interview later that month, Cohen said Trump likely viewed the documents as a bargaining chip should he be indicted.
“The second they would put him in handcuffs, he would turn around and say: ‘I have the documentation showing, for example, where our nuclear launch pads are,’” Cohen guessed.
Last month, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who serves on the armed services and foreign relations committees, said he had a similar gut feeling about Trump’s reasons.
“I spend a lot of time in secure Senate facilities. I know what this information is like,” he said on CNN. “The reason Trump took this with him to Florida was probably to try to either sell it or have it as a ‘get out of jail free’ card.”
During the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago, officials were able to recover at least 20 boxes and 11 pieces of pertinent documents. Trump was found to have had more than 300 classified documents in his possession, including 150 that he returned to the National Archives.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the Justice Department believes there are still more documents in Trump’s possession.
Cohen, who served time in prison after facilitating a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from disclosing an alleged affair with Trump before the 2016 election, has since authored a second critical book about the president.
“Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the Us Department of Justice Against His Critics” is due to be released this week.