FBI agents found four dozen empty document folders marked “CLASSIFIED” during their raid last month at former President Donald Trump’s residence at his Mar-a-Lago club, a newly unsealed court filing revealed on Friday.
Agents found 43 of those empty folders, marked as classified, in Trump’s office, according to the Justice Department’s inventory of confiscated items filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The remaining five empty folders with this marking were found in containers in a storage room.
The FBI also found another 42 empty folders marked “Return to Staff Secretary/Miliary [sic] Adjutant” during the Aug. 8 raid, who was authorized to search for government documents removed from the White House when Trump left office in January 2021, the filing said.
Documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago
Source: Ministry of Justice
Twenty-eight of those empty folders were found in Trump’s office, while another 14 were in another storage room, the document shows.
And FBI agents found more than 10,000 government documents and photos with no classification marks, the filing shows. Among them were hundreds of photos and news articles, as well as gifts, clothing and books.
The bombastic revelations suggest that the DOJ has yet to recover the documents that would have been in the empty folders.
The DOJ is investigating possible crimes related to the removal of these and other government documents from the White House when Trump left office in January 2021.
By law, such records must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration.
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It was signed by Miami U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Jay Bratt, chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Branch of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
“The materials seized will continue to be used to further the government’s investigation, and the investigative team will continue to use and evaluate the materials seized as it undertakes further investigative steps, such as through additional interviews and grand jury practice,” the statement said .
“It is important to note that the ‘verification’ of the seized material is not a single investigative step, but an ongoing process in this active criminal investigation,” the document reads.
Trump’s spokesman again criticized the raid in a series of tweets about the inventory of the confiscated items.
“The new ‘detailed’ inventory list only further proves that this unprecedented and unnecessary raid on President Trump’s home was not a surgical, limited search and recovery, as the Biden administration claims, was a SMASH AND GRAB,” spokesman Taylor wrote Budovich .
“These document disputes should be resolved under the Presidential Records Act, which requires cooperation and negotiation by NARA [National Archives and Records Administration]no armed FBI raid,” added Budowich.
Trump, in a lawsuit filed in late August, asked Cannon to appoint an independent handler, known as a special master, to review items seized in the search before the DOJ could continue using the documents in the investigation.
Trump’s attorneys said a special master could consider whether some documents’ use in the investigation is prohibited because they are protected by either attorney-client privilege or executive branch privilege.
The DOJ has opposed the appointment of a special master, saying it would delay the investigation and that Trump does not possess the documents.
Cannon said during a Florida court hearing Thursday that she would make a decision on Master’s special motion “in due course.”
Cannon, a Trump appointee, previously shared her “tentative intention” to honor Trump’s request for a special master. The judge indicated at Thursday’s hearing that she was still considering the appointment, news outlets reported.
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