Top secret documents found at Donald Trump’s Florida home were “likely concealed” to obstruct an FBI probe into the former president’s potential mishandling of classified materials, the Department of Justice said in an explosive new court filing.
The filing released late Tuesday provides the most detailed account yet of a year-and-a-half long effort to recover hundreds of classified documents that were improperly taken to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate when he left office in January 2021.
And the claim of obstruction piles further legal pressure on the Republican former president—who denies all wrongdoing and has denounced an unprecedented FBI raid on his palatial home this month as part of a “witchhunt.”
The August 8 raid was triggered by a review of “highly classified” records that Trump finally surrendered to authorities in January this year—after months of back and forth with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The Justice Department began investigating the matter after the 15 boxes were found to contain national defense information, including 184 documents marked as confidential, secret or top secret, a government affidavit showed.
After prompting from the FBI, Trump’s lawyer would eventually turn over an additional 38 classified documents—and provide “sworn certification” that they represented the last of the material.
But it did not stop there: the FBI went on to uncover “multiple sources of evidence” showing classified documents remained at Mar-a-Lago, the new filing says.
When agents conducted their court-ordered search, they found material so sensitive that “even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents,” it says.
Strikingly, the filing included a photograph of color-coded documents spread out over a carpet, marked “SECRET” and “TOP SECRET.”
Now, as the filing made clear, prosecutors are seeking to determine whether Trump or anyone in his immediate orbit acted criminally to prevent federal agents from retrieving classified documents.
It cited “evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room (at Trump’s estate) and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”
Trump hit back at the photo’s release in a post on his Truth Social network.
“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,” he wrote.
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