A newly disclosed picture shows documents with classified markings at former President Donald Trump’s resort in Florida.
The image shows six documents labeled “top secret” and several marked “secret.”
The photograph was captured on Aug. 8, when FBI agents executed a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, according to government lawyers.
The lawyers included the picture in a brief filed on Aug. 30, which urged a judge not to grant Trump’s motion for a special master, an independent third party who would look over the seized documents and sift out those identified as potentially privileged.
Next to the documents, which were scattered on the floor, was a box with five framed pictures, including one of a framed Time magazine cover.
Agents took away 33 items of evidence, mostly boxes of documents, according to a previously released inventory list. Over 100 unique documents were marked classified, government lawyers said in the new filing.
“Certain of the documents had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status,” they said, referring to the image. “The classification levels ranged from CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET information, and certain documents included additional sensitive compartments that signify very limited distribution.”
Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers and FBI agents have already conducted a preliminary review of all of the seized materials, according to the government.
“In some instances, even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents,” the new filing states.
Trump has maintained that he declassified the documents in question before he left office, a claim supported by some former government officials.
“Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see. Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!” he wrote on his Truth Social network on Wednesday.
Documents Found Outside Storage Room
The DOJ started investigating after the National Archives and Records Administration received 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago in January, following months of negotiations with the former president’s team. The U.S. archivist soon referred the matter to the DOJ, citing the identification of classified materials and other documents that were taped back together after being torn up.
FBI agents were able to review the documents in mid-May after the archivist, backed by President Joe Biden, rejected Trump’s executive privilege claims. They verified that the boxes contained classified materials.
A grand jury subpoena was sent before that to Trump’s records custodian. The custodian was told to appear before the grand jury on May 24 in Washington and bring any and all documents bearing classified markings, according to a copy of the subpoena filed in court on Tuesday. However, the government informed a Trump lawyer that an appearance wasn’t needed if the custodian provided the responsive documents to the FBI, and swore that the documents fulfilled the subpoena.
Agents and a government lawyer went to Mar-a-Lago on June 3 and were given an envelope containing the responsive documents, the DOJ says. A review of those records identified some as classified. The custodian, whose name was redacted, provided a sworn certification that a “diligent search” was conducted for the records.
A lawyer for Trump, meanwhile, told the government workers that all of the records from the White House were stored in one location, a storage room at Mar-a-Lago. The lawyer also said no records were stored in any other location on the premises.
The raid in August, though, uncovered some classified documents in Trump’s office in addition to the storage room.
That casts “serious doubt” on the claim that there was a diligent search, the government said in its new filing.
“That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” it said.