Search of Mar-a-Lago: Secret documents between newspapers and gifts: Donald Trump was in chaos

It's a move unparalleled in US history.

Search of Mar-a-Lago: Secret documents between newspapers and gifts: Donald Trump was in chaos

It's a move unparalleled in US history. In early August, investigators searched Donald Trump's Florida home. Since then, more and more details have come to light. On Friday, the Justice Department released a detailed account of what was confiscated in the raid, including a slew of highly sensitive documents.

The listing from the Department of Justice is very detailed. 33 boxes containing more than 11,000 government documents and photographs were seized in the early August raid. Most of the objects are not classified, but investigators also found numerous documents marked "confidential", "secret" or "top secret". This confirmed the suspicions the FBI had. It was not until the end of August that an agent's letter was published that played a key role in the issuance of a search warrant. Accordingly, the FBI suspected early on that the documents handed over to the National Archives in January 2022 did not contain all sensitive documents from Mar-a-Lago. Trump's lawyers had given an affidavit in June that no more secret documents were in the property.

What is similar to the boxes at the National Archives and the confiscated boxes in Florida, however, is the chaos in which the documents were found. The National Archives alerted the investigating authorities in February because secret documents were found between newspaper clippings and photos. The investigators also found chaotic conditions in the boxes that were confiscated in August. Would you like an example? In addition to 11 documents marked "confidential" and 21 marked "secret", box 10 also contained 30 newspaper articles, three items of clothing and gifts, a book and 255 photos. Box 29 also contained a document marked "top secret" among 86 newspaper articles and 35 photographs

This question has not yet been clarified. In total, investigators found 48 empty folders marked as "locked up." Whether the documents were not in the folders from the start, whether they slipped under other papers or were removed from the folders is so far completely unclear.

The FBI listings show that the documents seized were not all in one room. In addition to a storage room, the FBI also lists an office as the location of some boxes. It is interesting that secret documents, including seven marked as "top secret", were found in both rooms, and finding them in the office could become a problem for Trump. Because in addition to the documents, the investigators also found passports of the former US President. "If you find contraband in the same room as ID documents, the conclusion is that the person had authority and control over the documents," legal experts recently told US broadcaster NBC News. The fact that he had no idea about the secret documents in Mar-a-Lago is probably not a statement for Trump. (You can find out why the confiscated passports could become a problem for Trump here)

For Trump, however, it could also become a problem that the documents were not adequately secured. As the "Washington Post" reports, the location of 26 boxes referred to as "storage room" is a separate room in the basement of Mar-a-Lago. However, the basement is also used to store tables, chairs and umbrellas for the public area of ​​the property and employees have access to the basement. The Justice Department viewed surveillance video from the basement area as early as June, showing several people exiting the large storage area, the newspaper reports. For the small room in which the documents were stored, however, there should only be one key. But who has access to this is unclear.

That cannot yet be answered exactly. However, the Justice Department's release on Friday was by order of the judge who decides on the appointment. Trump wants to appoint a third person to independently oversee the investigation and oversee the Justice Department's review of the evidence collected at Mar-a-Lago - also because Trump sees the raid as illegal. The Special Master may filter confidential material subject to attorney-client privilege, but not classified government documents. Trump wants to ensure that all confiscated private documents are returned. What exactly the Special Master is supposed to filter out has not yet been named by Trump's lawyers. The application only generally lists "confidential and potentially confidential material".

The US government, on the other hand, argues that the investigators' work is also hampered by the appointment of a special master. The appointment would "prevent the intelligence agencies from conducting their ongoing review of the national security risk that improper storage of these highly sensitive materials may have posed and identifying actions to correct or mitigate the damage caused by improper storage," it said a message. In the letter released Friday, the authors, prosecutor Juan Antonio Gonzalez and counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt, affirmed that any items subject to possible attorney-client privilege have not yet been reviewed. However, all other documents have already undergone a preliminary review. Trump has already received some of the documents and items, including his passport.

As expected, there are different views on this. Trump's lawyers point out that the President has released all the documents and that they would therefore no longer be classified. However, neither Trump nor his lawyers have yet provided any evidence that the documents were released.

The US government and investigators see things a little differently. In her view, the sensitive documents should never have been stored in Trump's private property, especially since Mar-a-Lago is also a public club with a golf course, pool and restaurant. The fact that the property is not as secure as it should be was recently confirmed by a publication in a US medium. According to this, a Ukrainian woman posed to the security as a Rothschild heiress and thus managed to get onto the premises – there is even a joint photo with Donald Trump. Trump's team only discovered the fraud months later.

Former US Attorney General William Barr, who was in office under Trump from February 2019 to December 2020, also explains in an interview with "FoxNews" that there was no reason for Trump to store secret documents in Florida. "I can't think of any legitimate reason why classified documents would be taken out of a government building and taken away from the government," Barr said. What many people wouldn't understand is that even if the documents were no longer classified, they would still belong to the government and thus to the National Archives. People would say the raid on the ex-president's mansion was "unprecedented," Barr told conservative news channel Fox News on Friday. "Well, it's also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information to a country club."

Barr also dismissed the statement by the lawyers that Trump released entire batches of documents in a kind of ceremony as nonsense. "First of all, it's very unlikely that he did it. But if he really did stand in front of boxes and released them without knowing what was inside, that's an abuse of power and almost worse than just taking the documents with him ." Barr described Trump's call for a special master as "red herring", i.e. a diversionary maneuver.

Sources: Fox News, Washington Post, Reuters, AFP

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