Trump claimed that many former presidents had stored millions of pages of documents in warehouses “with damaged front doors”.
The former president said the senior Bush “took millions and millions of documents to a former bowling alley that had been torn down along with what was then an old and dilapidated Chinese restaurant”.
“They put them together. And it had a broken front door and broken windows. Other than that, it was pretty safe,” Trump added.
In fact, he even demanded to know why the former president was not prosecuted for “hiding” documents.
Trump himself is currently under investigation for taking government documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The US Department of Justice found 48 documents marked classified on his property after the FBI conducted a search in August. The department suggested that Trump may be in possession of many other classified documents.
Trump’s reference to a bowling alley where he said Bush kept classified documents was a likely reference to reports from 1994 about the site of a future George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The presidential library and museum was considered in an old bowling alley, and some of it was part of the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant.
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Bush Library and Museum’s archives contain more than 40 million pages of official records and personal papers documenting the life of the 41st President of the United States.
The Presidential Library and Museum’s website mentions that “George Bush’s (1989-1993) presidential records form the core of the archival holdings. The library also contains vice presidential records of both George Bush (1981-1989) and Dan Quayle (1989-1993), as well as donated historical materials, documenting George Bush’s private and public career”.
In addition to these records, the Bush Library has an extensive audiovisual collection containing more than two million photographs and 10,000 videotapes.
Trump’s accusation that Bush hid the documents is rooted in the story of how Bush’s library and museum came to be in the first place.
It was in an old bowling alley that things from the former president’s life were collected. In 1994, when the future museum and library came together, one news agency reported that items such as “an old infielder’s glove, the door of a Kuwaiti palace, even a huge likeness of Bush’s head from a Republican convention” were brought to the bowling alley.
Currently, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum contains more than 100,000 artifacts in its three-dimensional holdings, which are housed and preserved for posterity, research and display, the website notes.
The bowling alley was apparently not enough for the millions of pages of documents, so some of the documents were stored next to the bowling alley in what used to be the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant.
All the items for the future library and museum at that time were not only from Bush’s presidency, but other items also came from his eight years as vice president. Many were also from his tenure as a Texas congressman.
The documents and memorabilia were all guarded by security at the future Bush library. Back then Associated Press reported that some of the “printed material is classified” and will remain so for years, and that “it is open only to those with top secret clearances.”
At the time the National Archives was just establishing the library and museum, the director of the Center of Presidential Studies at Texas A&M University, George Edwards, said, “We’re not just taking a presidential library and saying, ‘Gee, isn’t it beautiful and prestigious?’ . We want to integrate the library into the intellectual life on campus.”
Meanwhile, Mr Trump’s comment about Bush and the bowling alley drew a sharp response on Twitter from Mr Bush’s son, Jeb Bush. “I’m so confused,” he said, “My dad enjoyed a nice Chinese meal and enjoyed the 7 10 split challenge. What the hell is wrong with you?”