Jake Johnson, Common Dreams
The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday released a photo of classified documents it retrieved from Donald Trump‘s Florida home earlier this month, the latest disclosure in its investigation into the former president’s removal of secret government records from the White House following his 2020 election loss.
The heavily redacted photo, which shows documents clearly marked “secret” and “top secret” sprawled out on carpet, accompanied a new 36-page filingin which the Department of Justice said it compiled evidence that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct” its investigation, a finding that puts members of Trump’s team and potentially the former president himself in even more legal jeopardy.
The filing notes that the FBI “developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed” from a Mar-a-Lago storage room that Trump’s team claimed was the location of all the documents removed from the White House.
“Against that backdrop, and relying on the probable cause that the investigation had developed at that time, on August 5, 2022,” the filing reads, “the government applied to Magistrate Judge Reinhart for a search and seizure warrant, which cited three statutes: 18 U.S.C. § 793 (Willful retention of national defense information), 18 U.S.C. § 2071 (Concealment or removal of government records), and 18 U.S.C. § 1519 (Obstruction of federal investigation).”
DOJ releases photo of some documents recovered in Trump's office at Mar-a-Lago.The filing says in some instances "even FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents." pic.twitter.com/drGOBBhqC5
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) August 31, 2022
Federal agents ultimately removed more than 30 boxes of material from the White House during its recent raid of Mar-a-Lago, which set off a firestorm of reaction from the former president’s far-right base and his loyalists in Congress.
The FBI’s stated finding that documents were “concealed and removed” from the Mar-a-Lago storage room conflicts with a sworn certification provided to the Justice Department by one of Trump’s attorneys, believed to be Christina Bobb.
The certification states that after receiving a subpoena for the documents in the spring of this year, a “diligent search was conducted of the boxes that were moved from the White House… in order to locate any and all documents that are responsive to the subpoena.”
DOJ’s filing notes that “counsel for the former president represented that all the records that had come from the White House were stored in one location—a storage room at the premises.”
But when federal agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago in early June to retrieve the documents requested under the subpoena, “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.”
The Justice Department seized the remaining documents during its raid earlier this month.
DOJ’s Tuesday filing came days after the agency made public a redacted version of a 38-page affidavit that backed the raid of Trump’s Florida home on August 8.
Reuters noted early Wednesday that the filings were released “ahead of a Thursday court hearing before U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in West Palm Beach.”
“She is weighing Trump’s request to appoint a special master who would conduct a privilege review of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago,” the outlet reported. “The Justice Department on Tuesday said it opposed the appointment of a special master. Trump, prosecutors argued, lacks standing in the case because the records ‘do not belong to him.'”