The FBI raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate looking for classified documents on Aug. 8. The news hasn’t stopped since, with a new development — whether it be a Trump social media meltdown or the release of a new set of search documents — unfolding on what’s seemed like a daily basis. It’s been a little hard to keep up with all that’s transpired this month, not to mention the eight months since the National Archives first hauled 15 boxes of material out of Mar-a-Lago in January. Here’s a brief refresher on the former president’s classified document saga, which doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon:
Jan. 20, 2021: Trump leaves the White House on the morning of Biden’s inauguration. The administration turns over a collection of documents to the National Archives, but the Archives has noted that some of them had been torn up and taped back together.
May 6: The National Archives reaches out to Trump’s representatives about retrieving missing records that belong to the Archives. Discussions between the Archives and Trump’s team continue throughout the rest of the year.
Dec. 2021: Trump’s team informs the Archives that there are 12 boxes of records at Mar-a-Lago ready for retrieval.
THE INITIAL 15 BOXES
Jan. 18, 2022: The National Archives retrieves 15 boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago that the Archives said should have been turned over before Trump left office. The boxes contained Trump’s self-described “love letters” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but also, as The New York Times reported in August, documents from multiple intelligence agencies “spanning a variety of topics of national security interest.”
Feb. 9: The National Archives refers the matter to the Justice Department, writing in an email that among the 15 boxes was “a lot of classified records” and that “of most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records.”
Feb. 18: The National Archives publicly confirms it found documents containing “classified national security information” among the 15 boxes of materials they retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January.
Feb. 24: House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) sends a letter to the National Archives requesting specifics about the documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. “I am deeply concerned that former President Trump may have violated the law through his intentional efforts to remove and destroy records that belong to the American people,” Maloney writes.
April 7: The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is in the preliminary stages of investigating why classified documents were being stored at Mar-a-Lago, and that the Justice Department instructed the National Archives not to share the contents of the materials they retrieved with the House Oversight Committee.
May 12: The New York Times reports that the Justice Department subpoenaed the National Archives for the contents of the boxes retrieved in January, and that authorities requested interviews with people who worked in the White House in the days before Trump left office.
Conservative journalist and Trump ally John Solomon later reported that the Justice Department also subpoenaed Trump in the spring for any remaining documents with classification markings.
June 3: Jay Bratt, the Justice Department’s counterintelligence chief, and other agents visit Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trumps lawyers Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb, who show them the basement storage area where the materials were stored. Bratt and the agents are given additional classified material that was not recovered in January, and Bobb signs a statement asserting there was no more classified material at Mar-a-Lago, to the best of her knowledge, according to The New York Times.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that in the weeks after the visit an information tipped off the FBI that there were still classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
THE FEDS VISIT MAR-A-LAGO
June 8: Bratt emails Corcoran asking that the storage room be secured. “We ask that the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents had been stored be secured and that all the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice,” the email reads, according The Wall Street Journal.
June 22: The Justice Department subpoenas the Trump Organization for Mar-a-Lago security footage of the hallway outside the storage area. The footage reportedly showed people moving boxes in and out of the room, and changing some of the containers that held the documents, raising concern among investigators, according to The New York Times.
Aug. 8: The FBI executes a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago in search of additional classified documents. The search is not made public until Trump announces it that evening, writing that his “beautiful home” was occupied by agents. “They even broke into my safe!” the former president wails.
Chaos ensued across conservative media.
Aug. 10: Rolling Stone reports that Trump is concerned that his allies may be “wearing a wire” and that his communications could be under surveillance by the FBI or “by Biden.”
Aug. 11: Attorney General Merrick Garland announces in a press conference that the Justice Department will move to make the Mar-a-Lago search warrant public, citing “substantial public interest in the matter.” Garland added that he “personally approved” the decision to apply for a search warrant.
Hours after Garland’s announcement, The Washington Post reports that the FBI was looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons and other classified intelligence information when they searched Mar-a-Lago.
Aug. 12: The Mar-a-Lago search warrant is unsealed, revealing that Trump is under criminal investigation for potentially violating the Espionage Act, as well as obstruction of justice.
Aug. 16: Trump calls for the “immediate” release of the affidavit that led to the authorization of the search, or, as Trump described it, the “horrible and shocking BREAK-IN.”
Aug. 18: Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the search warrant, rules that the Justice Department must redact the search warrant affidavit so that it can potentially be released to the public.
Aug. 22: Trump files a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Justice Department from reviewing the materials seized during the search, claiming “the integrity of these documents is important not only to [Trump] but also to the institution of the Presidency” and requested that a neutral “special master” be appointed to oversee the investigation.
The same day, The New York Times reports that over 300 classified documents have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago since Trump left office.
Aug. 23: Rolling Stone reports that Trump has been demanding his lawyers find a way to get his seized documents back, including those that are classified.
Aug. 25: Trump melts down on Truth Social, claiming he did “absolutely nothing wrong” and complaining again that the FBI “broke into my safe, an unthinkable act!”
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Judge Bruce Reinhart orders the Justice Department to release a redacted version of the affidavit by noon the following day.
Aug. 26, 2022: The Justice Department releases a redacted version of the affidavit, which reveals that the FBI identified “184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET” in the trove of documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.