Documents seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Department of Justice
FBI agents found 4 dozen empty document folders marked “CLASSIFIED” during their raid last month of former President Donald Trump’s residence at his Mar-a-Lago club, a newly unsealed court file revealed Friday.
Agents found 43 of those empty folders marked classified in Trump’s office, based on the Department of Justice’s inventory of the seized items, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The remaining five empty folders with that marking were present in containers in a storage room.
The FBI also found one other 42 empty folders marked “Return to Staff Secretary/Miliary [sic] Aide,” through the Aug. 8 raid, which was authorized to look for presidency documents faraway from the White House when Trump left office in Jan. 2021, the filing said.
Twenty-eight of those empty folders were present in Trump’s office, while one other 14 were in a storage room elsewhere, the document shows.
And FBI agents found greater than 10,000 government documents and images without classification markings, the filing shows. Amongst those were lots of of photos and news articles, together with gifts, clothing, and books.
The bombshell revelations raise the prospect that the DOJ has not yet recovered the documents that might have been within the empty folders.
The DOJ is investigating possible crimes related to the removal of those and other government documents from the White House when Trump left office in Jan. 2021.
By law, such records should be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration.
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It was signed by Miami U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez, and Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section of the national security division of the Justice Department.
“The seized materials will proceed for use to further the federal government’s investigation, and the investigative team will proceed to make use of and evaluate the seized materials because it takes further investigative steps, akin to through additional interviews and grand jury practice,” that notice says.
“It can be crucial to notice, ‘review’ of the seized materials is just not a single investigative step but an ongoing process on this lively criminal investigation,” the document says.
Trump’s spokesman in a series of tweets concerning the inventory of the seized items again criticized the raid.
“The brand new ‘detailed’ inventory list only further proves that this unprecedented and unnecessary raid of President Trump’s home was not some surgical, confined search and retrieval that the Biden administration claims, it was a SMASH AND GRAB,” wrote the spokesman, Taylor Budowich.
“These document disputes ought to be resolved under the Presidential Records Act, which requires cooperation and negotiation by NARA [National Archives and Records Administration], not an armed FBI raid,” Budowich added.
Trump in a lawsuit filed in late August asked Cannon to appoint an independent watchdog, often known as a special master, to review the items seized within the search before the DOJ is allowed to proceed using the documents within the investigation.
Trump’s lawyers have said a special master could check to see if some documents can be prohibited from getting used within the probe because they’re protected by either attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.
The DOJ has opposed the appointment of a special master, saying that it could delay the investigation, and that Trump doesn’t own the documents.
Cannon, during a court hearing in Florida on that dispute Thursday, said she is going to issue a ruling on the special master request in “due course.”
Cannon, a Trump appointee, previously shared her “preliminary intent” to grant Trump’s request for a special master. The judge suggested in Thursday’s hearing that she remains to be considering that appointment, news outlets reported.