Right-wing media scramble to defend Trump after new DOJ filing claims they may have concealed documents

Right-wing media figures are scrambling for a reason to attack the Department of Justice’s latest filing regarding former President Donald Trump’s mishandling of classified documents, largely by claiming that the found documents were not sensitive and accusing the DOJ of manipulating the process to unjustly take down Trump.

Late on August 30, in response to the Trump team’s request for a special master in the investigation into the former president’s mishandling and allegedly illegal retention of classified documents, the DOJ entered a 36-page filing that details the government’s repeated attempts to retrieve the documents and the obstruction that followed. It makes clear that Trump’s legal team did not cooperate with the DOJ and “likely concealed and removed” government records, which officials believe was likely done “to obstruct the government’s investigation.” The filing notably included a photo of classified documents arranged on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, showing multiple packets marked “TOP SECRET//SCI.”

Here are some of the defenses offered by right-wing media figures

  • Fox News contributor Byron York said the DOJ was misleading people by showing documents on the floor.
  • The Federalist’s Sean Davis also dismissed the idea that the documents were sensitive because the FBI put them on the floor.
  • Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz dismissed the picture as a “public relations effort.” Fox anchor Dana Perino also said the documents “were placed there. The visual might leave people with the wrong impression.”
  • Right-wing troll Jack Posobiec called the filing a “preemptive coup” and questioned why Republicans haven’t publicly criticized the filing yet.
  • American Greatness blogger Julie Kelly, a serial misinformer in her writings on January 6, suggested the DOJ is using the “ruse of ‘national security’” to block the appointment of a special master. She also tweeted that the “TOP SECRET/SCI” cover pages were fabricated by the FBI.
  • Right-wing legal pundit Jonathan Turley criticized the filing for being misleading about who put the documents on the floor.
  • Fox News contributor Lara Trump on Fox & Friends First said the FBI may be “trying to backtrack and cover up for themselves” that the search warrant was improper and conceal “how many things they took that they shouldn’t have taken.”
  • Newsmax’s Benny Johnson repeated the House Judiciary GOP Twitter account’s ludicrous argument that the Time magazine from on the edge of the photo of classified documents was the predicate for the search warrant, writing, “Glad to know Trump was raided over a framed Time Magazine Cover.” 
  • Fox News host Mark Levin wrote a Twitter thread attempting to refute the idea that some documents were concealed, saying it’s “crazy” to claim “one or more lawyers” would have prevented the FBI from seeing the boxes.  He concluded, “This entire matter is utterly preposterous. And more so as time goes on.”