Three classified documents were found in a desk drawer in Donald Trump's office at Mar-a-Lago, the Department of Justice revealed in a blockbuster filing, in addition to more than 100 documents discovered in 13 boxes with classification markings in the former president's residence.
The documents were discovered in the August raid of Trump's Florida home, which came after the former president's lawyers claimed a 'diligent search' produced all the requested documents.
'Three classified documents that were not located in boxes, but rather were located in the desks in the '45 Office,' were also seized,' the filing states.
Trump uses a replica of the Resolute Desk he occupied in the Oval Office in his Florida office. The desk also shows off his military challenge coins, which he brought from the Oval Office. And, on the walls, are photos highlighting moments in his presidency - including ones of Air Force One flying over DC and of Marine One in front of Mt. Rushmore.
Also in the desk drawer were Trump's passports, which he railed against the FBI for taking.
The DoJ filing refutes Trump's claim that the passports were outside the scope of their warrant, arguing the passports were part of the scope since they were mixed in with the documents in the desk drawer.
'The government seized the contents of a desk drawer that contained classified documents and governmental records commingled with other documents. The other documents included two official passports, one of which was expired, and one personal passport, which was expired. The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information; nonetheless, the government decided to return those passports in its discretion,' the filing says.
More than 320 classified documents have now been recovered from Mar-a-Lago overall, the Justice Department said.
The DoJ's 36-page filing, released late Tuesday night, was the government's response to Trump's request for an independent review of materials seized from his Palm Beach home in the August raid by federal agents.
It outlines the numerous steps the government took to retreive the records Trump took with him from the White House, which are the property of the federal government. Presidents are legally required to turn them over to the National Archives when they leave office.
It makes clear the August 8 raid came after numerous other efforts to retrieve the records had failed and that law enforcement suspected that additional documents remained inside the property.
The government also detailed its suspicion that Trump and his team were trying to obstruct their investigation.
Officials claimed they were 'likely concealed and removed' from a padlocked storage room where Trump's lawyers had said they were all kept together.
'The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,' the filing states.
Three classified documents were found in a desk drawer in Donald Trump's office in Mar-a-Lago during the August raid, the Justice Department said
A photo of Trump's office in Mar-a-Lago was relesed by aide Stephen Miller in April 2021
The above timeline highlights just some of former president Donald Trump's battles with the National Archives since leaving office, including an unrelated court fight with the January 6 committee
The filing includes an extraordinary photo that shows papers - with many marked 'top secret' - on the carpet at Donald Trump's Florida mansion.
The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents.
Some were marked 'TOP SECRET//SCI' with bright yellow borders and one was marked as 'SECRET//SCI' with a rust-colored border.
There were also ones with whited-out pages and a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.
Trump slammed the FBI for releasing the photo and repeated his argument he had declassified all the documents he took with him from the White House.
'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 media account on Wednesday.
Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the Archives in January. Those boxes were discovered to hold classified documents, triggering an investigation.
What Tuesday night's filing does not reveal is why Trump took the documents with him and why he refused to give them back.
But their discovery and the federal investigation led to a May 11 subpoena, where DoJ lawyers demanded the return of all materials marked as classified.
On June 3, Trump's team gave FBI officials 38 additional documents with classified markings, including 17 labeled top secret.
One of Trump's lawyers present at Mar-a-Lago on that date but '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 filing said.
And, during that visit: 'Counsel for the former President offered no explanation as to why boxes of government records, including 38 documents with classification markings, remained at the Premises nearly five months after the production of the Fifteen Boxes and nearly one-and-a-half years after the end of the Administration,' the filing notes.
The Trump attorney, who the New York Times identified as Christina Bobb, also claimed at that time that all the documents requested via the subpoena had been returned to the government following a 'diligent search.'
'Based upon the information that has been provided to me, I am authorized to certify, on behalf of the Office of Donald J. Trump, the following: a. A diligent search was conducted of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Florida; b. This search was conducted after receipt of the subpoena, in order to locate any and all documents that are responsive to the subpoena; c. Any and all responsive documents accompany this certification; and d. No copy, written notation, or reproduction of any kind was retained as to any responsive document. I swear or affirm that the above statements,' the letter, which was included in the filing, states.
The filing also noted that 'the F.B.I., 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.'
During that June 3 visit, the filing says, Trump;s lawyers told investigators that all the records that had come from the White House were stored in one location - a Mar-a-Lago storage room - and that 'there were no other records stored in any private office space or other location at the Premises and that all available boxes were searched.'
After that, though, the Justice Department, which had subpoenaed video footage for the property, 'developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government´s investigation.'
The filing does not identify the individuals who may have relocated the boxes.
It says, '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.'
A photo of documents seized during the August 8 search of Mar-a-Lago was published on Tuesday night by the Justice Department
Letter from Trump attorney included in the Justice Department filing
The FBI conducted a raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on August 8th
Trump's attorney says he watched Mar-a-Lago raid live on camera
In total, 320 documents marked classified, some at the most restrictive levels, have been recovered from Trump since he left the White House.
Trump has denied any wrong doing. He and his team have argued that Trump had declassified all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago.
The former president requested the appointment of an independent arbiter known as a special master to review the materials seized by the FBI for ones Trump claims are protected by executive privilege.
DoJ lawyers rejected that argument and said Trump's lawyers 'never asserted that the former president had declassified the documents or asserted any claim of executive privilege.'
The purpose of the Tuesday night filing was to oppose a request from the Trump legal team for a special master to review the documents seized during this month's search and set aside those protected by claims of legal privilege.
Trump's lawyers have until 8 p.m. on Wednesday to respond the DoJ filing.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon is set to hear arguments on the matter on Thursday.
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