Tom Fitton Told Trump the White House Documents Were His to Keep: Report

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  • The Justice Department is investigating the removal of White House documents by Donald Trump.
  • Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, tried to convince Trump that the files belonged to him.
  • “The moment Tom got in the boss’ ear, it was downhill from there,” one person told CNN.

As the National Archives and Records Administration asked former President Donald Trump to return any missing White House documents he may have taken with him, one conservative activist was telling Trump that the records were his to keep, according to a new report.

Tom Fitton, president of conservative activist group Judicial Watch, argued to Trump that the White House files belonged to him and that he should not have let the National Archives and Records Administration “strong-arm” him into returning the documents, according to a CNN report that cited three anonymous sources.

“The moment Tom got in the boss’ ear, it was downhill from there,” a source close to Trump told CNN.

Fitton cited a 2012 case involving Judicial Watch and an attempt to obtain recordings from former President Bill Clinton’s time in office to argue that the documents from his term in office belong to the former president, CNN reported.

Judicial Watch and Fitton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fitton began speaking to Trump after NARA said in February that it retrieved 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in mid-January. If NARA returned for more files, Fitton then told Trump that he should not cooperate, the sources said to CNN.

Trump soon became convinced that the documents he handed over to NARA, and the ones that stayed behind at his Mar-a-Lago residence, belonged to him, the sources said.

Additional were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in June after the Department of Justice, which had been referred the matter after NARA found classified documents in the 15 boxes, issued a subpoena. On August 8, of this year the FBI carried out a search warrant for Trump’s private club and home in Florida to retrieve additional materials, including 11 sets of classified documents. 

Fitton did not confirm or deny the conversations with Trump in an interview with CNN but said that he has publicly argued the documents belonged to the former president. 

“I have been quite clear that President Trump is being abused here and the Justice Department has changed its position that they had in the Clinton case,” Fitton told CNN.