After a search in Florida: US investigators see a possible obstruction of justice in the Trump case

In the legal dispute over secret documents discovered during a search of former US President Donald Trump's property, investigators see indications of a possible obstruction of justice.

After a search in Florida: US investigators see a possible obstruction of justice in the Trump case

In the legal dispute over secret documents discovered during a search of former US President Donald Trump's property, investigators see indications of a possible obstruction of justice. "Evidence found that government records were likely hidden and removed from the storage room (at Trump's mansion) and that efforts were likely made to obstruct the investigation (...)," the Justice Department wrote in a late Tuesday night ( local time) published court document.

In early August, the FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. The FBI confiscated several sets of documents classified as top secret. Since Trump is said to have kept the documents in his private estate after his term in office, he may have broken the law. This is now being investigated. Trump criticized the actions of the authorities as politically motivated. The Republican was president from 2017 to 2021, he could run for a second term.

During the search, emergency services confiscated numerous boxes with more than a hundred confidential documents, some of which were subject to the highest levels of secrecy, as the ministry now wrote. This raises "serious doubts" about an affidavit signed by a Trump attorney in early June. It said, among other things, that the boxes brought from the White House to Florida had been thoroughly checked and that all sealed documents had been returned.

They found what they were looking for not only in the storage room in Mar-a-Lago, but also in Trump's office there. Three of the confidential documents were discovered in the desks. Included in the ministry's court document was a photograph of material said to have been seized at Mar-a-Lago. It shows several folders scattered on the floor, at least five marked "Top Secret" and one marked "Secret".

The search had caused a stir. Trump repeatedly described the action against him as a "witch hunt". Investigators searching the home of a former president is considered unprecedented in US history. Congressional elections are due in early November, in which the Republicans hope, among other things, to regain a majority in both chambers. Trump has also been fueling speculation for weeks that he could soon announce a bid for the next presidential election in November 2024.

Last week, Trump asked a Florida court to appoint a special representative to review the documents seized during the search. His defense attorneys argue, among other things, that these documents are protected by the executive privilege of the US President. This is the President's prerogative to keep secret certain information, such as communications with his own government officials.

"Improper storage of highly sensitive material"

Judge Aileen Cannon announced her preliminary intention to appoint a special master on Saturday. She was appointed a judge by Trump during his presidency in 2020.

In the court document now filed against Trump's request, the Justice Department argued that Trump, as a former president, no longer has the right to the documents because they "do not belong to him" but are the property of the government. Since Trump's lawyers only submitted the application around two weeks after the search, a filter team set up by the authority has already finished its work.

In addition to the criminal investigation, the appointment of a special representative would also hamper the work of the US secret services. They are currently examining whether the "improper storage of this highly sensitive material" poses a risk to national security.

The FBI had previously checked 15 other boxes of documents in May that the National Archives had retrieved from Mar-a-Lago months earlier. The officials found 184 confidential documents of different classification levels. That same month, the department, through a grand jury order, recovered all remaining government records in Trump's possession.

His team then gave the FBI a further 38 confidential documents, including 17 marked "top secret". The search in August was carried out after there were several indications that, despite the assurances, further classified material remained in Mar-a-Lago, the ministry continued.

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