Federal authorities believe that members of former President Donald Trump’s staff may have knowingly concealed or moved a treasure trove of classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago as the Department of Justice ramped up its investigation into Trump’s illegal possession of sensitive government property, a new filing reveals.
The bombshell document, released shortly before midnight Tuesday, provides deeper insight into the steps taken by the Department of Justice leading up to the unprecedented Aug. 8 raid on Trump’s Florida compound and suggests willful and deliberate attempts by Trump’s team to withhold crucial materials from the federal government — even after a Trump lawyer signed an affidavit on June 3 confirming no classified material remained at Mar-a-Lago.
According to the filing, some of the materials discovered during the most recent raid were so classified that “even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.” Among the documents uncovered by FBI agents on Aug. 8 were three classified documents found inside desks in Trump’s personal office, as well as 13 boxes containing an 100 additional documents with classification markings ranging from “CONFIDENTIAL” to “TOP SECRET” — a discovery which, the filing notes, was double the amount of materials turned over by Trump’s lawyers on June 3.
Included in the filing is a photo of “certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container” found inside Trump’s office. Also visible in the photo is a framed Time magazine cover from March 4, 2019, showing an illustration of various high-profile Democratic politicians peering inside Trump’s Oval Office accompanying an article exploring the fractured and overcrowded field of candidates participating in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
The document zeroes in on what the Department of Justice calls a “storage room” at Mar-a-Lago where Trump’s lawyers alleged all remaining materials with classification documents kept at the estate were found. During federal authorities’ visit to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, Trump’s lawyers stated that “no other records stored in any private office space or other location at the Premises and that all available boxes were searched” — however, as the filing notes, the former president’s “counsel 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.”
Further investigation by the FBI found evidence suggesting “that a search limited to the Storage Room would not have uncovered all the classified documents at the Premises” and concluded “that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” That evidence prompted federal authorities to apply for the search warrant that ultimately resulted in the Aug. 8 raid.
The filing was made public as part of the Department of Justice’s response to the embattled ex-President’s request to appoint a “special master” to independently review the materials taken from his home between January and August of this year. In it, authorities note that “the former President lacks standing to seek judicial relief or oversight as to Presidential records because those records do not belong to him” and instead belong to the federal government per the Presidential Records Act. Additionally, federal authorities on Monday stated that the documents were already examined by investigators prior to Trump’s request for an independent third party to intervene in the investigation that seeks to determine whether or not the former president violated the Espionage Act.
The revelation comes not long after Trump spent several hours furiously posting to his Truth Social platform on Tuesday, sharing upwards of 60 posts covering everything from QAnon conspiracy theories to low-effort memes taking aim at President Joe Biden.
Previously unsealed filings revealed that the list of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago since Trump left office included over 300 classified and top secret materials ranging from so-called “special access program materials,” information related to the nation’s human intelligence assets, and most curiously, an item described only as “info re: President of France” — which a Rolling Stone report revealed may be connected to Trump’s continual suggestions to associates that he knew intimate details about French President Emmanuel Macron’s sex life.
The former president maintains that the ongoing investigation into his hoard of classified materials is a move orchestrated by “Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.” Still, Trump’s paranoia surrounding the federal government continues to grow, as a Rolling Stone report from early August revealed the ex-president is increasingly concerned someone in his inner circle could be “wearing a wire” and that his personal communications are under surveillance “by Biden.”