Ex-press secretary: "I watched" Trump show docs to people on the Mar-a-Lago "dining room patio"

Stephanie Grisham says Trump acted "like a child" with documents

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published July 3, 2023 1:26PM (EDT)

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham (L) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters before he boards Marine One and departing the White House November 08, 2019 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham (L) listens to U.S. President Donald Trump talk to reporters before he boards Marine One and departing the White House November 08, 2019 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former White House communications director and press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Sunday that she witnessed former President Donald Trump show off documents to people at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. 

MSNBC host Alex Witt asked Grisham about the former president's indictment for his alleged role in mishandling national security documents at his sprawling West Palm Beach residence. 

"Is it plausible Trump was showing classified documents to people in private meetings?" Witt asked Grisham.

"The short answer is yes," Grisham replied. "I watched him show documents to people at Mar-a-Lago on the dining room patio. So he has no respect for classified information. Never did. You know, listening to that exchange every time, it just makes me so angry."

"He talks specifically that he should have declassified it, but he didn't. So there, I think, is proof. I believe also there's a portion of that audio where he says, you know, this is off the record. And I know Donald Trump knows the rules of reporters and he knows if it needs to be off the record that they can't talk about it. So I think he was covering himself in that regard," she continued."

"And, you know, I was thinking about this earlier. I just want to say to your viewers, I don't think people understand how hard it is to get your classified permission. I remember when I was going through it to get all of mine. I got held up because of a $13 kindercare bill that I did not know about, and so I couldn't get it. They go through everything about it. It's very difficult to get a security clearance. And I think people, you know, they miss that in the weeds, obviously. But to be showing it to people who haven't gone through the extreme vetting that you go through to get a clearance, it's you know, it's a disservice to the country, but it also puts people in danger potentially."

Witt followed by asking Grisham "how high" her security clearance was during her time working for Trump. "And I've got to think, given that you get held up for a $13, whatever it was, I mean, that's got to be almost offensive that Donald Trump goes around and shows it very liberally to people," she added.

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"It is," Grisham agreed. "And it's you know, of course, it's offensive to me. Sure. But again, there are sources and methods out there that could be put in danger. I think that, you know, I can't stress enough how by being so loose with this stuff, he's potentially putting people in danger. And yeah, I had a top security clearance and it's very, very hard to obtain. So it's very important and it's vital to our country and our national security. The only people with these clearances have access to any of these documents."

Last month, Grisham vocalized similar sentiments on CNN, stating that she was not surprised by the details of Trump's indictment.

"It all rang true," she said, describing the ex-president's illusory logic. "'Why don't we just take those documents out? It wouldn't be a problem, right?' That's so him." 

"Why didn't he give them back? It's because he thinks those are his," she added. "He's like a child holding on to his little toy train and nobody is going to take it from him."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Clip Donald Trump Jack Smith Mar-a-lago Politics Stephanie Grisham