WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department said Tuesday it had uncovered attempts to obstruct the investigation into the discovery of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Florida estateand said “government records were likely hidden and removed” from a storage facility even after former presidential officials assured officials they had searched the property thoroughly.
The FBI also seized 33 boxes containing more than 100 classified records during the Aug. 8 search for Mar-a-Lago and found three classified documents stashed in office drawers, according to a file containing the most detailed chronology to date of colored interactions. between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives over the discovery of government secrets.
Declaration Tuesday evening a photograph showing the front pages of a pair of clip-bound classified documents – some marked “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow edges, and one marked “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border – along with whitewashed pages, spread on a carpet in Mar-a-Lago. Next to them is a cardboard box filled with gold-framed photos, including a Time Magazine cover.
The filing offers yet another indication of the vast amount of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal investigation have focused not only on why the data was incorrectly stored there, but also on whether the Trump team deliberately misled them about the continued and illegitimate presence of government secrets.
The document provides new details about the events of last May and June, when FBI and Justice Department officials issued a subpoena for the missing data and then visited a storage facility in Mar-a-Lago that contained top-secret documents and other information. .
During that June visit, the document says, Trump’s attorneys told investigators that all of the records coming out of the White House were stored in one location — a storage facility in Mar-a-Lago — and that “there was no other records were stored in private office space or other location in the property and all available boxes were searched.”
After that, however, the Department of Justice developed “evidence that government documents were likely hidden and removed from storage and that attempts were likely made to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
In their search earlier this month, agents found classified documents in both the storage room and the former president’s office, including three classified documents that were found not in boxes, but in desks.
The application responds to a request from Trump’s legal team for a special master to review the documents seized during the Mar-a-Lago search on August 8. US District Judge Aileen Cannon will hear arguments on the matter.
Trump’s attorneys last week called for the appointment of a special master who would be tasked with verifying the recorded data and setting aside documents protected by claims of legal privilege. Cannon on Saturday said it was her “tentative intention” to appoint such a person, but also gave the Department of Justice the opportunity to respond.
On Monday, the department said it had already completed its review of potentially privileged documents and identified a “limited set of materials that may contain privileged information from lawyers and clients.”
In a separate development, Trump’s legal team has grown with the addition of another attorney. Chris Kise, the former Florida attorney general, has joined the team of attorneys representing Trump, according to two people familiar with the case who were not authorized to discuss the move by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Kise did not return any messages requesting comment.
Colvin and Balsamo were reporting from New York.