AUGUST 31, 2022
An array of highly classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. (Photo: Department of Justice / FBI)
Former President Donald Trump continued raging on his social media platform Wednesday, the morning after a Department of Justice court filing offered the most detailed look yet at the timeline leading up to the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago.
His latest rants follow a day of “re-truthing” posts largely criticizing President Joe Biden and federal law enforcement ― Trump shared more than 60 such posts on Tuesday, according to a count by Rolling Stone.
In the 36 pages of its latest filing, the Department of Justice meticulously dismantled Trump’s legal arguments while providing new details about how the former president kept top-secret government documents at the South Florida golf resort he now calls home.
The last page of an attachment included a photograph showing some of the documents’ cover sheets spread out on the carpet alongside a measuring tape. They sat next to a box containing an unflattering Time magazine cover, featuring an illustration of Trump, that was framed.
“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!” Trump wrote Wednesday morning.
The photograph, of course, revealed no government secrets.
It merely showed how the documents had been brightly labeled with markings indicating they were highly classified; the information contained within the documents had been blocked out. Trump’s dubious claim to having declassified the documents is also refuted in the latest court filing.
Trump then shifted focus: “Whatever happened to NUCLEAR, a word that was leaked early on by the FBI/DOJ to the Fake News Media!”
The Washington Post reported shortly after the raid that some of the government documents seized had related to America’s nuclear arsenal ― a claim the Department of Justice has not commented on. Rather, prosecutors have repeatedly argued that revealing what sort of information was contained in the Mar-a-Lago documents would negatively impact its ongoing investigation.
After plugging Jared Kushner’s new book, Trump also took time Wednesday to trash the FBI, or specifically a top-level agent who departed the agency amid criticism over his handling of an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter. Trump has claimed without evidence that the agent was somehow behind a nonexistent election-rigging scheme and masterminded the Mar-a-Lago raid.
Following Trump’s election loss in 2020, the National Archives and Records Administration spent the bulk of 2021 trying to obtain missing records from Trump’s time in the White House. Under federal law, all presidential records are supposed to be transferred to the National Archives when a president leaves office.
The National Archives eventually referred the matter to the Justice Department in early 2022, after Trump’s team handed over more than a dozen boxes of documents, because some contained classified information in potential violation of federal law.
The Justice Department found evidence that Trump was holding on to additional classified documents. According to the latest filing, they also found evidence that he had torn some records apart.
So, authorities obtained a grand jury subpoena in an attempt to collect the rest of the Mar-a-Lago documents, and in response, Trump’s lawyers handed over another batch of files on June 3. Authorities were also allowed to view the room where the documents had been kept, but were prohibited from looking inside the remaining boxes ― arousing suspicion.
After taking a look at the new batch, prosecutors determined that still more documents likely were being kept at Trump’s golf resort, and they had reason to believe “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” the filing said.
That’s what precipitated the Aug. 8 raid, the Justice Department said. Authorities seized 33 boxes or items of evidence that day containing “over a Hundred classified records.”
In some cases, the information was so secretive that “FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents,” per Tuesday’s filing.
The FBI’s findings therefore “cast doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter” on the part of Trump’s team, the filing said, pushing back on Trump’s prior claim to being open to working with federal investigators.