Former President Donald Trump's handling of classified documents while in office has prompted concern regarding repeated violations of the Presidential Records Act, which requires all official White House communications be submitted to the National Archives.
Earlier this month, news broke that Trump, despite multiple warnings, frequently tore up documents that had to be reassembled for preservation. What's more, Trump staffers would gather documents in "burn bags" to be destroyed and other documents clogged toilets after someone whom officials believed to be Trump attempted to flush them. After Trump left office, the National Archives had to travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort to collect more than a dozen boxes of documents—some of which were clearly marked "Top Secret," according to the Washington Post—that had been properly removed.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was asked about these violations on Fox News, where he proceeded to downplay them.
When asked by Bret Baier why Republicans don't seem as alarmed about Trump's handling of documents as they were about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails, Rubio replied:
"Nowadays, in the mainstream media, you just need one source to smear Donald Trump. Maybe you don't even need that. So it's hard to tell anymore what really happened and what didn't. The documents that were at Mar-a-Lago by all accounts were turned over. Look, if the process wasn't followed there, there needs to be something that happens about that. It's not a crime, I don't believe. But the stuff about flushing paper down the toilet, who knows if that's even true?"
First off, Trump's penchant for ripping up documents has been reported as far back as 2018, and the Washington Post report that recently revived these claims cited 11 former Trump staffers to corroborate them. Maggie Haberman's reporting on the flushed documents, which will be included in her upcoming book, was also confirmed by Jennifer Jacobs, the senior White House reporter for Bloomberg News.
But let's take a look at Rubio's belief that improperly removing documents from the White House isn't a crime.
The Presidential Records Act of 1978 established that Presidents don't own their official documents, but rather the public does. If Trump did try to destroy documents or otherwise conceal them from the public, it was "contrary to law," according to director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy Steven Aftergood's comments to the New York Times.
Social media users were far more certain than Rubio about whether the improper removal or destruction of White House documents is a crime.
Though the viewers of Fox News likely appreciated Rubio's defense of Trump, others absolutely did not.
Rubio is currently running for reelection, and his expected opponent in the general election this November is Democratic Congresswoman and former police chief Val Demings.