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Trump’s own words from 2016 come back to haunt as prosecutors file new charges in documents case

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Former President Donald Trump.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md., on March 4, 2023Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images file

If it’s FRIDAY… President Biden travels to Maine to discuss the economy and manufacturing at 1:15 pm ET… Donald Trump faces additional charges in Mar-a-Lago document case… Almost the entire Republican presidential field — including Trump — addresses Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner fundraiser, per NBC’s Alex Tabet and Jillian Frankel… And VP Harris also hits the Hawkeye State to speak on abortion rights at 1:10 pm ET.

But FIRST... It was seven years ago when Donald Trump attacked his opponent, Hillary Clinton, accusing her of obstructing justice and destroying evidence.

“People who have nothing to hide don’t smash phones with hammers,” Trump said at a Sept. 6, 2016 rally in Greenville, N.C.., per Time magazine. “People who have nothing to hide don’t bleach their emails.”

More Trump: “Nobody takes all the risks Hillary Clinton took unless they’re trying to cover up massive, massive crimes.”

The assembled crowd erupted in “Lock Her Up!” chants, Time added.

(In 2016, the FBI recommended no criminal charges for Hillary Clinton in her handling of classified information, but did say she was “extremely careless” using a private email address and server.)

Now check out this passage from the new charges that special counsel Jack Smith has brought against Trump, aide Walt Nauta and newly charged defendant Carlos De Oliveira in the classified documents case against Trump.

It’s over an alleged scheme to delete security-camera footage — after the Justice Department had sent Trump’s lawyer a draft grand jury subpoena for security footage.

“DE OLIVEIRA told Trump Employee 4 that “the boss” wanted the server deleted. Trump Employee 4 responded that he would not know how to do that, and that he did not believe that he would have the right to do that. Trump Employee 4 told DE OLIVEIRA that DE OLIVEIRA would have to reach out to another employee who was a supervisor of security for TRUMP’s business organization. DE OLIVEIRA then insisted to TRUMP Employee 4 that “the boss” wanted the server deleted and asked, “what are we going to do?”

Responding to the new charges, Trump’s presidential campaign said they were an attempt by the Biden administration “to harass President Trump and those around him.”

Data Download: The number of the day is … 3

That’s the number of new charges that Trump faces as part of a superseding indictment filed Thursday, with NBC News’ Daniel Barnes reporting the maximum sentences for the new charges range from 10 to 20 years in prison. 

The charges related to willfully keeping national defense information as well as obstruction related to allegations he and others at Mar-a-Lago tried to delete security camera footage. 


Other numbers to know

86: How many senators voted Thursday to pass a sweeping annual defense bill, setting up a showdown with the House over competing versions of the legislation.

17: The number of academic researchers given access to Facebook’s aggregated data for a comprehensive study on how the platform influenced what news users saw ahead of the 2020 election. 

85,000: About how many migrants the Department of Homeland Security says have been “repatriated” after the end of the Title 42 border restrictions in May. 

13: That’s how many consecutive days the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day higher than it started, a streak that ended Thursday when it fell by less than 1%

About 350: How many corporate employees Anheuser Busch InBev plans to lay off amid a decline in sales following conservative backlash against the brand for a marketing partnership with a transgender influencer. 

Headline of the day

Eyes on 2024: Iowa is the place to be

Nearly every Republican presidential candidate — except former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — will be in Iowa Friday for the state GOP’s Lincoln Dinner fundraiser, just six months ahead of the state’s primary contest, NBC News’ Jillian Frankel and Alex Tabet report. 

It’s a “cattle call” event for the GOP primary, where candidates will have a chance to address a crowd and speak to voters individually afterwards. And it’s an opportunity for retail politicking in the crucial early caucus state. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was on the ground in Iowa Thursday, participating in multiple events hosted by his allied super PAC, Never Back Down. Between his presidential pitches, NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez captured one exchange with a young Iowan in which DeSantis remarked that the child’s ICEE “probably has a lot of sugar, huh?

And during a gaggle after DeSantis’ bus tour event in Chariton, Iowa, the governor addressed criticism from Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds over the state’s Black history standards, arguing that “at the end of the day, you’ve got to choose, are you going to side with Kamala Harris and liberal media outlets, are you going to side with the state of Florida?” per NBC News’ Alec Hernández. 

Over in Ankney, Iowa, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott also criticized the new standards, saying there is “no silver lining” in slavery. Scott, the only Black Republican senator, went on to reference DeSantis without naming him, saying ”we should ask them again to clarify their positions.”

While DeSantis and a crowded GOP field jockey for Iowans’ attention, Vice President Kamala Harris will attend a separate event across town with local figures who favor expanding abortion access. The event comes weeks after Iowa’s GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The law was later put on hold by a judge.

Here comes the money? NBC News’ Matt Dixon reports that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is rebooting two fundraising vehicles after a strong fundraising haul last quarter obscured some warning signs. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on the DeSantis campaign’s finances, with nuggets including how DeSantis is still flying private jets, despite his financial woes.

Hurd hits DeSantis: Former Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd criticized DeSantis floating Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to serve on his FDA or CDC, telling SiriusXM that “it’s outrageous and it’s wrong.”

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Canvassers for Never Back Down have knocked on more than 1 million doors, reaching the milestone on a hot day last week in South Carolina, per the Post and Courier.

Waiting game: Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney told CNN he won’t announce whether he’s running for re-election “‘til the fall.”

Gearing up: The Messenger reports that the Koch-backed LIBRE Initiative Action, which focuses on Hispanic voters, is doubling its paid staff as it gets ready for the 2024 elections.

Famous friends: The Hill takes a look at the celebrities who donated to political campaigns last quarter. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

The Justice Department is investigating the Memphis Police Department for potential violations in use of force and to see whether it engaged in discriminatory policing.

Military forces in Niger on Thursday said they would offer no resistance against the forces that organized a coup earlier this week.

A new U.S. intelligence report found that China is providing support for Russia’s war effort against Ukraine, including by supplying Moscow with key technology.