The Justice Department accuses Trump of hiding new confidential documents in his Mar-a-Lago home | International

Some of the documents recovered at Trump’s mansion on August 8, in a photograph taken by FBI agents.AP

The United States Department of Justice showed this Tuesday the strongest evidence of the judicial case that it is building against Donald Trump for possible crimes of obstruction of justice and concealment of confidential documents stolen from the White House. In a response document to Trump’s legal team, delivered to the court handling the case, the investigators recount the result of the search they carried out on August 8 at the former president’s house in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, after obtaining evidence that the Trump team had hidden a hundred confidential documents in that residence. According to that response, the former president’s collaborators hid and moved said official papers from one room to another in that 126-room mansion. The Prosecutor’s Office revealed on Tuesday that three of these confidential reports were found on desks in the former president’s personal office, just a few days after Trump’s legal advisers confirmed that there were no longer any confidential documents in the house.

The response from the Department of Justice, headed by Merrick Garland, delivered to the district court chaired by Judge Aileen Cannon, follows a request from Trump’s legal team, which requires a special independent figure to review the material stolen from the White House and later recovered by FBI agents. The Prosecutor’s Office has argued that this figure, called a special teacher, is “unnecessary”, since it could “damage the interests of the Government, including those of national security”. In the response, the attempts of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA or the National Archives) to recover the presidential papers that the Trump team took from the White House and that they have been claiming since 2021 are detailed.

Initially, the National Archives sought to recover 15 boxes containing newspapers, magazines, news articles, photographs, notes, presidential correspondence and personal records, as well as classified documents, that Trump’s team took at the end of his term. In total, about 700 pages. When it became known that among those papers were some that collected state secrets, the National Archives notified the Department of Justice.

Between May 16 and 18, the FBI managed, after much insistence and a court summons, check all 15 boxes. In them they found 184 classified documents. 67 were confidential, 92 secret and 25 top secret.

On June 3, three FBI agents and a prosecutor went to the Mar-a-Lago house to receive a folder with other official documents that were supposedly recently found and that were not part of the 700 included in those 15 boxes. Members of the former president’s legal team led the investigators to a warehouse, where, they were told, other administration papers were stored. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Trump’s lawyers “explicitly prohibited” agents from opening other boxes that were there to check what was inside. They also stated that there were no more official documents in other rooms of the residence.

Trump’s letter

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The custodian of the Trump archives, present on June 3, provided government agents with an official letter on behalf of the former president. In it, it was stated that a “diligent search” had been carried out among the boxes that arrived 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,” the letter stated.

Trump’s legal team ultimately provided FBI agents and the prosecutor with a folder containing just 38 new documents. 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” [de Trump]indicates the response of the Department of Justice delivered this Tuesday to the court.

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.

The Aug. 8 search of the Mar-a-Lago home confirmed that suspicion. That day, the FBI recovered another 33 boxes with evidence, in addition to other containers in which more than a hundred classified documents were kept, some of them of the highest level of confidentiality. 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 this Tuesday shows dozens of those documents recovered on August 8, which appear in the image arranged on the carpet of the Trump 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 conducted the search 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 during the search. Other papers were also found in a room at Trump’s Florida residence, despite claims that no official documents were kept anywhere else in the mansion.

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. Washington considers that said figure is unnecessary with a very simple argument: those papers did not belong to the former president.

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