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Trump’s research team found classified documents at a storage site in Florida

Trump’s research team found classified documents at a storage site in Florida


Former President Donald J. Trump hired people to search four properties after being ordered by a federal judge to search more carefully for any classified documents still in his possession, and they found at least two documents with marks classified inside a sealed box in one of the locations. , according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump’s research team discovered the documents at a federally-run storage site in West Palm Beach, Florida, the person said, prompting his attorneys to notify the Justice Department.

The New York Times reported in October that Justice Department officials told lawyers for the former president they believe he may have more classified documents that have not been returned in response to a subpoena. issued in May. The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, in August for additional classified documents and other presidential records.

People close to Mr Trump had said earlier on Wednesday that no classified documents were found during the searches, a claim later proven to be inaccurate. The Washington Post first reported on the location of the two additional documents, as well as the searches of the properties.

After the Justice Department’s warning, a debate ensued among Mr. Trump’s lawyers over whether to hire an independent firm to carry out a search.

Learn more about the Trump documents investigation

The discovery of the documents in the storage unit, maintained by the Federal General Services Administration, came during a series of wider searches that were completed around Thanksgiving and conducted at Mr Trumps Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ; at Trump Tower in New York; and in a storage closet at Mar-a-Lago, according to two people familiar with the events.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said in a statement that the former president and his attorney continued to be cooperative and transparent, despite the unprecedented, unlawful and unwarranted attack on President Trump and his family. by the armed Ministry of Justice.

The department is investigating whether former presidents handled thousands of government documents, including more than 300 classified, which were removed from the White House at the end of his term and found at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors are also looking into whether Mr. Trump obstructed repeated government efforts to retrieve the documents.

When the Justice Department warned that it believed Mr. Trump still had documents in his possession, a lawyer he had hired shortly before, Christopher M. Kise, suggested, along with other lawyers working for Mr. Trump to hire an outside firm. , according to people close to the events.

A group of other Trump lawyers were resistant to the idea; among them was Boris Epshteyn, a communications adviser who positioned himself as in-house counsel on some of Mr Trump’s legal entanglements. The dispute caused Mr. Kises to hover in Mr. Trump’s circle for weeks, according to several people close to the former president.

More recently, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the federal district court in Washington, who oversees grand jury investigations, essentially ordered Mr. Trump’s attorneys to search more carefully for all remaining documents. Other attorneys in Mr. Trump’s inner circle have taken on the issue and hired a firm, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

But as the Justice Department continued to have questions about which documents might remain at Mar-a-Lago and as some people close to Mr Trump believed another search warrant might be executed, a person familiar with discussions among federal officials said there was no recent probable cause by which to secure a warrant for Bedminster or Trump Tower.

The National Archives repeatedly asked last year about the status of certain documents it should have received, such as correspondence with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, as well as about two dozen boxes that were considered presidential archives at the end of Mr. Terme’s intervention.

Records officials contacted several people to try to facilitate the return of the documents, including former White House Counsels Office attorneys working as Mr. Trump’s representatives to the agency. The former president told several advisers that the boxes were filled with press clippings and personal effects; archive officials explained that the clippings can be considered presidential documents.

Alex Cannon, an attorney who had worked with Mr. Trump in various capacities, got involved last fall and tried to help archive officials recover the material.

Mr. Cannon warned other members of Mr. Trump’s circle not to go through the boxes themselves because their contents were unclear and people might need security clearances. At one point, while Mr. Trump was looking for National Archives documents related to the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign had conspired with Russian officials, he offered that his lawyers suggest a swap with the agency: he was looking for in exchange for the documents he had.

Lawyers refused to take this suggestion and Mr Cannon continued to try to press for the documents to be returned to the archives.

Eric Herschmann, a lawyer who had worked as Trump’s top White House adviser, had an informal chat with Mr. Trump. People familiar with the discussion characterized it as Mr Herschmann speaking as a friend and urging the former president to return the boxes, suggesting he could face legal problems keeping them, especially whether they contained classified material.

That possibility became a reality in January, after archive officials recovered boxes that Mr. Trump had browsed for several days last December. Officials opened the boxes and discovered a number of classified documents. The Department of Justice got involved.

When Mr. Cannon raised with Mr. Trump the possibility that officials were not sure he had returned everything, the former president told him to tell officials that he had returned everything, according to people briefed on this. topic. Mr. Cannon refused to do so and quickly ceased to be involved.




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