Karl Rove: 'Beyond Me' Why Trump Kept Government Docs Without Authorization

Trump said the materials would have been returned to authorities if requested — but Rove suggested "they were asking for a year and a half."

Longtime Republican strategist Karl Rove said Friday after the release of an affidavit supporting the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate that he cannot understand why the former president stashed sensitive government documents without authorization.

“Why he was holding on to these materials when he had no legal authority to do so under the Presidential Records Act is beyond me,” Rove said on Fox News, referring to a decades-old law.

Rove, who served as a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush, also said the affidavit indicated that Trump stonewalled government officials’ repeated requests over several months to return documents that should have been given to the National Archives at the end of his presidential term.

“It is clear that beginning sometime in early 2021 through January of 2022 ... the National Archives and Records Administration was continually asking for the return of all material,” he said.

That would contradict a claim made by Trump after the FBI search that the documents would have been provided if requested.

“Trump has said several times all they had to do was ask. Well, my sense is they were asking for a year and a half,” Rove told Fox News host Sandra Smith.

The Presidential Records Act clearly states that “a president does not have the right to leave the White House and pick and choose what documents he wants to take with him,” Rove added.

“He can ask for copies, but those are the property of the American people. And since 1978, no president has left ... picking and choosing their own documents.”

The National Archives first reached out about retrieving records from Mar-a-Lago in May 2021, according to the affidavit. Trump’s aides responded later that year that they had 12 boxes of material ready to be picked up, and the National Archives eventually left with 15 boxes in January.

FBI agents searched Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8 and took away dozens of additional boxes, including 11 packets of classified documents. Among that set was a batch labeled with the highest classification markings, meant for review only in secure government facilities.

Following the release of the affidavit Friday, Trump criticized the search, the FBI and a judge, writing on his Truth Social platform that the investigation into his cache of government documents was a “WITCH HUNT!!!

A screen shot of a social media post by former President Donald Trump.
A screen shot of a social media post by former President Donald Trump.
Screen Shot/Truth Social/Donald Trump

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