The release Tuesday by the National Archives of a fresh trove of documents detailing the Clinton administration's dealings with billionaire Donald Trump could become the latest fuel for flame-throwing in an already incendiary 2016 presidential race.
The documents include: a signed copy of Trump's “The Art of the Deal,” delivered to a top aide to then-President Clinton; logs of Trump’s invitations to the Clinton White House; and an entry about a Trump Towers photo-op with the president.
The files come at a sensitive time in the Republican presidential race, and could be used by Trump’s top rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to paint the billionaire businessman as too closely tied to the Clinton family – as Hillary Clinton leads the 2016 primary race on the Democratic side. Trump previously has brushed off the criticism, saying he had contact with Bill and Hillary Clinton, and countless other powerful people, because as a businessman he had to get along with everybody.
The newly released files shed light on that relationship.
One document is a photocopy of his best-selling book, “The Art of the Deal,” sent to Bill Clinton aide Mark Middleton. An autographed page says “To Mark – Best Wishes,” and adds, “Your Mom Is The Best.”
Another is a 1993 invitation to President Clinton, though not from Trump himself, to join a charity event in Atlantic City where Trump was slated to attend.
A 2000 entry reflects that the president participated in a photo op with Trump at Trump Towers in New York. And another set of database entries appears to reflect a handful of White House events attended by Trump in 1995.
The documents were among nearly 500 pages of files -- pertaining to the Clinton White House’s communications regarding Trump and the Trump Organization – that were released by the National Archives and published by the Clinton library, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Clintons and the Obama White House were notified back in January by the National Archives that the files would be released in April, unless President Obama or former President Bill Clinton requested a one-time extension or tried to assert a “privilege” to keep some documents private. While the Clinton library houses the records, the National Archives and Records Administration reviews and rules on requests to release such presidential documents.
The National Archives said they had reviewed a batch of several FOIA requests, for which they planned to release more than 9,000 pages. Regarding the Trump files request, the record-keepers said just three pages would be restricted.
The FOIA request itself came from BuzzFeed, an archivist told FoxNews.com.
The documents released Tuesday also reflect the Clinton White House’s interest in Trump’s flirtation back in 1999 and 2000 with a third-party presidential run.
One internal White House email in early 2000 among staff notes that Trump “has his eye on the big JOB.” Another from November 1999 forwards an Associated Press article detailing then-potential candidate Trump’s proposal for a one-time 14.25 percent tax on the net worth of wealthy Americans.
“We may need guidance on this,” says the subject line in the email.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Trump is the leading candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. The document dump comes ahead of next Tuesday’s New York primary, where Trump leads by double-digits in most polls.
Cruz, though, has racked up a string of wins, including in the Wisconsin primary -- though his recent success out-maneuvering Trump in the more esoteric battle for delegates at conventions like the one last weekend in Colorado has prompted complaints from Trump that the system is “rigged.” Cruz counters that he’s just “whining.”
FoxNews.com has asked the Cruz and Trump campaigns for comment on the Clinton documents. Neither campaign has yet weighed in.
FoxNews.com’s Judson Berger contributed to this report.