Classified documents were mingled with magazines and clothes at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club

A more detailed list of the documents seized from Donald Trump’s Florida estate was released Friday by the federal judge overseeing the former president’s lawsuit seeking a third-party special master to review the records, which FBI agents found stored in a haphazard way that mingled "top secret" records with magazines and articles of clothing.

Aside from the classified materials, the list appears to show the chaotic nature in which thousands of documents were kept.

Here's what was recovered in the search:

  • Overall, the list described 31 confidential documents, 54 "secret" documents and 18 "top secret."

  • 48 empty folders with classified banners

  • 42 folders marked "return to staff secretary/military aide"

  • More than 11,000 government documents or pictures without classification markings

  • Nearly 1,673 magazines, newspapers, or press clippings

  • 19 articles of clothing or gift items

  • 33 books

The comingled contents of the 33 boxes not only highlight a potential security risk posed by the unsecured classified documents but also underscore the chaotic nature of Trump's exit from the White House and his desperate attempts to cling to power, which federal and state prosecutors are reviewing in connection with other criminal investigations.

At about the same time the more detailed list of evidence was made public, Patrick Cipollone, a former Trump White House counsel, arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., where he was expected to appear before a grand jury investigating the Capitol attack. Cipollone would be the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to testify so far.

Meanwhile, the thousands of unmarked government records recovered in the Mar-a-Lago search were not specifically identified, and it was unclear whether the volume of the material would factor into the judge's decision on whether to appoint a special master to oversee a document review.

Read the list: What was found at Trump's Mar-a-Lago? Read the list detailing what FBI agents recovered.

This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30 and redacted, in part, by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The Justice Department says it has uncovered efforts to obstruct its investigation into the discovery of classified records at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate.
This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30 and redacted, in part, by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The Justice Department says it has uncovered efforts to obstruct its investigation into the discovery of classified records at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate.

Judge continues to weigh appointment of special master to review documents

FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 for documents from the Trump administration that may have provided evidence of violations of the Espionage Act or obstruction of justice. Trump filed a lawsuit for a special master to review the documents, to possibly block the Justice Department from documents related to communications from his lawyers or from administration aides.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon released the list while deciding whether to appoint a special master and potentially limit Justice Department access to the documents.

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Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower on Aug. 10 in New York City.
Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower on Aug. 10 in New York City.

FBI: Search part of 'active criminal investigation'

In a status report filed with the document list, prosecutors described the inquiry as an “active criminal investigation."

“It is important to note, ‘review' of the seized materials is not a single investigative step but an ongoing process in this active criminal investigation,” prosecutors said. “That said, the government can confirm for the court that the investigative team has already examined every item seized (other than the materials that remain subject to the filter protocols), even as its investigation and further review continues.”

In addition to the criminal investigation, the Justice Department said in court records it is working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to assess the potential national security risk posed by the discovery of the unsecured classified documents.

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Empty classified folders

Although the newly unsealed search warrant receipt does not contain enough information to determine what happened to the documents within the empty “classified” folders retrieved by the FBI, one former senior White House information security official said the discrepancy raises serious concerns.

“It’s tough to know, but empty folders could raise some alarm bells. Important decision memoranda and other papers often need to be returned from the president to the staff secretary for distribution and implementation by senior aides on the whole range of subjects," said Rajesh De, a White House staff secretary in the Obama administration who was in charge of securing classified documents and managing the paper flow to the president and senior staff.

"As for the empty classified folders, one also has to wonder what became of the contents and what if they fall into the wrong hands?” said De, a former senior Justice Department and National Security Agency official who now chairs the national security practice at law firm Mayer Brown.

Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, said in a tweet that if empty folders were used to store classified documents, there will be documentation indicating who put the records in that folder and what they were.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter Friday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray calling for testimony and hearings about the search.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks to journalists at the Omaha FBI office on Aug. 10. Wray addressed threats made to law enforcement after agents raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Fla.
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks to journalists at the Omaha FBI office on Aug. 10. Wray addressed threats made to law enforcement after agents raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

Classified documents were mingled with magazines, clothes, news clippings

At least seven boxes of documents, photographs and other materials were taken from the former president's Mar-a-Lago office and included at least 24 classified documents and an array of emptied folders. Two of them were labeled with directions to "return to staff secretary military aide."

The list describes 15 “secret” documents, seven “top secret” documents and 43 empty folders with “classified” banners from a box retrieved from Trump’s office at Mar-a-Lago. Another secret document was found separately in the “45 Office.”

The haphazard nature of the storage was revealed in Box 10, recovered from the Mar-a-Lago storage room. The contents included 32 classified documents along with articles of clothing, magazine clippings, a book and a mix of 255 unidentified records and photographs.

Thousands of pictures were found in boxes in the storage room. The list also featured hundreds of magazines, press articles and other documents without classified markings. Several articles of clothing were retrieved from the storage room.

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Documents seized after Trump lawyers said in June that all records were turned over

The trove of records was seized after Trump's lawyers certified in June that all records had been turned over to federal authorities in response to a grand jury subpoena seeking any remaining classified material at the property.

Prosecutors cited the prior certification in a scathing assessment of how the records were handled, asserting that the Trump team likely concealed and moved the remaining documents to obstruct the government's investigation.

"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 calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter," Justice officials stated in court documents earlier this week.

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Read the unsealed list of documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago

Contributing: Erin Mansfield and Ella Lee

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump classified documents mixed with magazines, clothes at Mar-a-Lago