Documents At Mar-a-Lago Were Moved And Hidden As The US Sought Them, According To A Filing
WASHINGTON - Documents at Mar-a-Lago were moved and hidden. In a court filing on Tuesday, the Justice Department said it wanted to search the Florida home of former President Donald J.
Trump because it had evidence that highly classified documents were likely hidden and that Mr. Trump's representatives had lied when they said all sensitive material had been returned.
The filing came after Mr. Trump asked for an independent review of the things that were taken from his Mar-a-Lago home. But it was much more than that. It gave the clearest picture yet of how the department tried to get the documents before taking the unusual step of searching the private property of a former president on August 8.
The 36-page filing revealed, among other things, that the search turned up three classified documents on desks in Mr. Trump's office and more than 100 classified documents in 13 boxes or containers in the home, some of which were at the highest level of security.
COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/documents-at-mar-a-lago-were-moved-and-hidden/ by Tyrese Griffin on 2022-09-02T05:08:18.074Z
That was twice as many classified documents as the lawyers for the former president turned over on their own, swearing under oath that they had given the government everything it had asked for.
The investigation into Mr. Trump's keeping of government documents started out as a fairly simple attempt to get back documents that National Archives employees had been trying to get back for most of 2021.
The filing on Tuesday made it clear that prosecutors are now clearly focused on the idea that Mr. Trump and people close to him may have done illegal things to stop their investigation.
After the Justice Department sent a subpoena to Mr. Trump's office for any remaining classified documents, investigators found signs that "government records were likely concealed and removed" from the storage room at Mar-a-Lago.
The government filing said that this led prosecutors to think that "efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation."
A photo of at least five yellow folders marked "Top Secret" and another red one marked "Secret" that was found at Mr. Trump's resort and home stood out in the filing.
But officials from the department are not likely to file charges soon if they ever do. And it's still not clear what the materials were that the government found during the search, or what risk to national security Mr. Trump's decision to keep them posed.
Even though the filing gave important new information about the timeline of the investigation, much of the same information was already in the affidavit used to get the warrant, which a federal magistrate judge opened last week.
One of the most important things that came out was information about Mr. Trump's legal team and whether or not they had misled people at the Justice Department and the F.B.I.
The Justice Department started working on this in May after the F.B.I. looked at 15 boxes of documents that the National Archives had gotten from Mar-a-Lago after asking Mr. Trump's representatives for months to return missing records.
In that first group of papers, the bureau found 184 classified ones. On May 11, lawyers for the department got a subpoena to get all classified documents that the former president did not turn over.
On June 3, his team gave F.B.I. agents 38 more classified documents, including 17 that were marked "top secret."
Analyst explains meaning of 'top secret' documents. There were 25 at Mar-a-Lago
But a filing said that one of Mr. Trump's lawyers who were there at the time:
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.
This meant that the government didn't have a chance to make sure that no classified documents were left. Mr. Trump's team also gave the national security division of the department a written statement from one of Mr. Trump's lawyers, who was the official "custodian" of the files.
The name of that person has been covered up in government documents, but several people have said that she is Christina Bobb. Tuesday, Ms. Bobb's statement was added to the filing that the department made.
In it, the lawyer wrote that "based upon the information that has been provided to me," a "diligent" search had been done and all documents that were asked for by the subpoena were being sent back. But soon, people in law enforcement found out that statement wasn't true.
The Justice Department filing said that the F.B.I.
Uncovered multiple sources of evidence indicating that the response to the May 11 grand jury subpoena was incomplete and that classified documents remained at the premises, notwithstanding the sworn certification made to the government on June 3.
The Justice Department filing said: "In particular, the government developed evidence that a search limited to the storage room would not have uncovered all the classified documents at the premises.."
The Justice Department got at least one more subpoena for security camera footage from inside Mar-a-Lago, and the search warrant affidavit showed that it had been working with several civilian witnesses. This led to the execution of the search warrant on August 8.
The filing said that "the F.B.I., in a matter of hours, found twice as many classified documents as the "diligent search" that the former president's counsel and other representatives did in weeks."
This, it said, "calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter." Since the search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump has said that he declassified all of the documents there.
His request for the F.B.I. to appoint a special master to look over the pile of documents they found was based on the idea that some of the documents were protected by executive privilege.
But prosecutors said Mr. Trump's lawyers "never asserted that the former president had declassified the documents or asserted any claim of executive privilege." A federal judge had set a midnight deadline for Tuesday's filing.
It came with a sealed list of the documents that Mr. Trump kept at Mar-a-Lago, many of which were highly classified. This inventory, which was turned in earlier in the day, is likely to have a lot more information than the shortlist in the search warrant, which was made public at Attorney General Merrick B. Garland's request.
The department has been using legal filings instead of social media or public comments to explain the evidence and legal reasoning behind its actions. This is because Mr. Trump and his supporters have thrown a lot of false information and hate at federal law enforcement officials.
On Monday, prosecutors asked the federal court for permission to make their response longer than the normal limit set by the court. This request was quickly granted.