DOJ Releases Photo of Docs Seized at Mar-a-Lago, Suggests Records Were 'Concealed and Removed'

·3 min read
This undated image released by the US Department of Justice, shows a photo attached as evidence to a court filing by the US District Court Southern District of Florida, of documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. - Documents at former US President Donald Trump's Florida home were "likely concealed" to obstruct an FBI probe into his potential mishandling of classified materials, the Department of Justice said in a court filing August 30, 2022. The filing provides the most detailed account yet of the motivation for the FBI raid this month on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, which was triggered by a review of records he previously surrendered to authorities that contained top secret information
This undated image released by the US Department of Justice, shows a photo attached as evidence to a court filing by the US District Court Southern District of Florida, of documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. - Documents at former US President Donald Trump's Florida home were "likely concealed" to obstruct an FBI probe into his potential mishandling of classified materials, the Department of Justice said in a court filing August 30, 2022. The filing provides the most detailed account yet of the motivation for the FBI raid this month on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, which was triggered by a review of records he previously surrendered to authorities that contained top secret information

JOSE ROMERO/US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE/AFP via Getty Images

In a response to a request by Donald Trump's legal team to appoint a special master to review documents FBI officials retrieved from his Mar-a-Lago home, U.S. prosecutors said that "efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation," according to a filing the Justice Department submitted to a federal judge late Tuesday.

The prosecutors said in the court filing that Trump and his team failed to hand over sensitive government records even after they told investigators that a "diligent search" for the materials had been conducted to comply with a subpoena, the filing states.

The 36-page filing outlines the government's repeated efforts to retrieve sensitive materials from Trump's Palm Beach, Fla., home before it was searched Aug. 8.

FBI agents executed a search warrant after investigators came to believe that the highly sensitive materials were "likely concealed and removed" from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, according to the filing, which includes a photo of documents in bright yellow and red folders labeled "Secret" and "Top Secret" that were found in a container in the former president's office.

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"The classification levels ranged from CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET information, and certain documents included additional sensitive compartments that signify very limited distribution. In some instances, even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents," officials said in the filing.

Also included in the filing is a sworn statement from Trump's "Custodian of Records."

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

D Dipasupil/Getty Images President Donald Trump

"I am authorized to certify, on behalf of the Office of Donald J. Trump, the following," the statement reads. "A diligent search was conducted of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Florida; This search was conducted after receipt of the subpoena, in order to locate any and all documents that are responsive to the subpoena."

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"I swear or affirm that the above statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge," the statement, dated June 3, also states.

Trump's team handed over 38 documents that day, according to Tuesday's filing, in addition to more than 180 that had been discovered in boxes sent to the National Archives earlier this year.

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Despite the assurances that all the records that were taken from the White House were kept in a Mar-a-Lago storage room in boxes and that they'd been thoroughly searched, more than 100 additional classified papers were found when the FBI entered the property on Aug. 8.

"That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the 'diligent search' that the former President's counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform," reads the filing, "calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter."