According to a bombshell report from The New York Times, the Department of Justice issued a court filing last week that revealed that they sought a search warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after obtaining evidence that highly classified documents were hidden and that Trump’s team had falsely claimed that all sensitive material had already been returned to them.
The Times reports:
“The filing came in response to Mr. Trump’s request for an independent review of materials seized from his home, Mar-a-Lago. But it went far beyond that, painting the clearest picture yet of the department’s efforts to retrieve the documents before taking the extraordinary step of searching a former president’s private property on Aug. 8.
Among the new disclosures in the 36-page filing was that the search yielded three classified documents in desks inside Mr. Trump’s office, with more than 100 documents in 13 boxes or containers with classification markings in the residence, including some at the most restrictive levels.”
The 100 documents was over twice the number of classified documents that Trump’s attorneys had turned over voluntarily and swore under oath that they had returned.
The investigation began as a straightforward attempt to recover materials that the National Archives had been trying to retrieve in 2021, but the recent filing makes it clear that prosecutors believe it is possible that Trump and his associates were engaged in criminal obstruction of the case.
More from Times’ report:
“Investigators developed evidence that “government records were likely concealed and removed” from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago after the Justice Department sent Mr. Trump’s office a subpoena for any remaining documents with classified markings. That led prosecutors to conclude that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the government filing said.
The filing included one striking visual aid: a photograph of at least five yellow folders recovered from Mr. Trump’s resort and residence marked “Top Secret” and another red one labeled “Secret.”
But department officials are not expected to file charges imminently, if they ever do. And the specific contents of the materials the government recovered in the search remain unclear — as does what risk to national security Mr. Trump’s decision to retain the materials posed.
While the filing provided important new information about the timeline of the investigation, much of the information was mentioned, in less detail, in the affidavit used to obtain the warrant, which a federal magistrate judge unsealed last week.”
Among the more damaging disclosures in the filing concerned Trump’s legal team and their potential misleading the FBI and other DOJ officials.
In May, after the F.B.I. examined 15 boxes of documents that the National Archives had retrieved from Trump, the DOJ began a more serious investigation. This was after months of asking Trump’s team to return missing documents. The FBI reported that they found 184 classified documents in that initial batch. This was followed by a subpoena to retrieve all classified materials from Trump, resulting in 38 marked classified and 17 labeled top secret retrieved on June 3.
The filing says that one of Trump’s attorneys present during the June 3 visit “explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained.”
The Justice Department later got one more subpoena, this one for security camera footage from inside Mar-a-Lago. The affidavit revealed that it had been working with multiple civilian witnesses, all of which resulted in the search warrant carried out at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.