UPDATE, Friday AM: A more detailed inventory of what items the FBI retrieved in the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was unsealed on Friday.
The list — read it here — includes a rundown of what was gathered from Trump’s office. That includes documents marked top secret, secret and confidential, but also 43 “empty folders with “classified” banners.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the unsealing of the document. She has yet to rule on Trump’s lawsuit to appoint a “special master” to comb through the records, as the former president argues that some of the items fell under executive privilege and attorney-client privilege.
PREVIOUSLY, Wednesday: The Justice Department said that documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a Mar-a-Lago storage room in an alleged effort to obstruct an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s cache of classified material at his property.
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Federal prosecutors made the claim in a court filing late on Tuesday, as they oppose efforts to appoint a special master to review materials retrieved during a search of Trump’s estate on Aug. 8.
In the filing, the Justice Department said that they “developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
The DOJ’s filing outlines efforts over 18 months to obtain presidential records from Trump, taken to Mar-a-Lago when he left office. Under the Presidential Records Act, those records are the property of the U.S. government and held by the National Archives.
After Trump’s team initially turned over 15 boxes of materials to the archives, the agency alerted the FBI when it was discovered that documents with classified markings with mixed in with other presidential materials. By May, Trump’s team was served with a grand jury subpoena to turn over any additional material.
According to the Justice Department’s latest filing, what was turned over on June 3 was an envelope that contained 38 documents bearing classification markings, including five marked as confidential, 16 documents marked as secret, and 17 documents marked as top secret.
“When producing the documents, neither counsel nor the custodian asserted that the former President had declassified the documents or asserted any claim of executive privilege,” the Justice Department said in its filing. “Instead, counsel handled them in a manner that suggested counsel believed that the documents were classified: the production included a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape, containing the documents.”
The FBI then “uncovered multiple sources of evidence” that still more documents remained at Mar-a-Lago, even though an unidentified Trump representative had signed a sworn statement that all of the records had been turned over. The filing stated that “the government developed evidence that a search limited to the Storage Room would not have uncovered all the classified documents at” Mar-a-Lago.
The search of Mar-a-Lago earlier this month retrieved 11 sets of classified documents, along with other presidential materials. The DOJ included in its filing a photo of some of documents, retrieved from Trump’s office, as well as other items, including a framed Time cover.
The Justice Department challenged Trump’s claims that some of the records are covered by executive privilege. It said that the government “is also reviewing those highly sensitive records to determine whether their handling created risks to national security.”
Trump’s team is expected to respond to the DOJ filing later on Wednesday. Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, that it was “terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see. Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!” Trump has claimed that he had a standing order that documents removed from the White House to the Mar-a-Lago residence were deemed declassified. But there is no record of such an order.
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