Justice Department believes Trump hid secret Mar-a-Lago documents | International
The Department of Justice has shown this Tuesday the most convincing evidence of the judicial case that it builds against Donald Trump. Investigators obtained the Mar-a-Lago search warrant on Aug. 8 after finding evidence that Trump’s team had hidden and moved the hundreds of confidential documents around the 126-room Florida mansion. The Prosecutor’s Office revealed this Tuesday that three of these confidential reports were recovered in desks located inside the personal office of the former president. This days after Trump’s legal advisers affirmed that there were no confidential documents in the residence.
The Department of Justice, headed by Merrick Garland, has responded this Tuesday to the request of Trump’s legal team, which demands a special independent figure to review the material recovered by FBI agents. The Prosecutor’s Office has argued that said figure, called a special teacher, is “unnecessary”, since it could “damage the interests of the Government, including those of national security”.
The document delivered by the Prosecutor’s Office in court this Tuesday recounts the attempts of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA or the National Archives) to recover the presidential papers stolen from the White House. Requests to recover 15 boxes began in 2021.
The fifteen boxes contained newspapers, magazines, newspaper articles, photographs, notes, presidential correspondence and personal records, as well as classified documents, making up some 700 pages. When it became known that there were State secrets inside these papers, the Archives notified the Department of Justice.
Between May 16 and 18, the FBI managed, after much insistence and a court summons, to search all 15 boxes. 184 classified documents were found. 67 were confidential, 92 secret and 25 top secret.
On June 3, three FBI agents and a prosecutor arrived at Mar-a-Lago to receive an envelope containing more found documents. Part of the legal team of the former president took them to a warehouse, where they were told, the papers of the Administration were kept. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Trump’s lawyers “explicitly prohibited” the agents from opening the boxes and checking what was inside. They also stated that there were no more documents in other rooms of the residence.
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The custodian of Trump’s records, who was present, provided government agents with an official letter on behalf of the former president. He claimed that a “diligent search” had been carried out among the boxes arriving from the White House to locate the documents claimed by court order. “No copy or written notation or reproduction of any kind or document has been withheld,” he noted.
On that occasion, a folder containing 38 documents was delivered. Five were marked as Confidential, 16 as Secret, and another 17 as Top Secret. “The former president’s lawyers did not offer any explanation as to why boxes with government documents were in the facilities five months after having recovered another fifteen boxes and a year and a half after the end of the Administration,” the document indicates.
That June visit made the FBI think that the Trump team had not returned everything that the National Archives claimed. “The Government obtained evidence that official documents were hidden and moved from the warehouse and that there were probably efforts to obstruct the government investigation,” the 36-page text states.
After the Mar-a-Lago search, the FBI recovered 33 boxes of evidence, in addition to other containers. These kept more than a hundred classified records, some of them with the highest level of confidentiality. This was more than double what agents recovered in June. “This casts great doubt on the intention of the former president’s legal team to cooperate in this matter,” argues the Prosecutor’s Office.
A photograph published on Tuesday shows dozens of documents recovered on August 8. These are found on the carpet in the residence. Some had a colored cover to distinguish the level of classification, which ranged from confidential to top secret. The government has asserted that the level of secrecy of these reports required the FBI and Justice Department counterintelligence personnel who carried out the search warrant to obtain special permissions before reviewing certain papers.
In the warehouse alone that Trump’s legal team did not allow to verify in June, 76 classified documents were found on August 8. Other reports were also found in the room that is considered the Office of 45. This despite the fact that it had been stated that no other place in the mansion contained official documents.
District Judge Aileen Cannon will hear Trump’s defense arguments on Thursday about the need for an independent arbitration figure to check the documents that have been recovered by the government. It could determine if some of these could be less damaging to Trump by having certain considerations similar to those of a lawyer and his client. Washington disagrees with that idea, arguing something very simple: those papers did not belong to him.
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