In addition to troves of information marked “secret” and “top secret,” the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home turned up over 10,000 US government documents and photographs without classification markings, a newly unsealed Justice Department inventory of the seized items shows .
The Justice Department court filing, filed under seal earlier this week but unsealed by a judge Friday, also shows investigators found more than 40 empty folders with “classified” banners on them at Mar-a-Lago. It’s unclear what happened to the information that had been inside the folders.
They also found almost four dozen empty folders marked “Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide,” according to the detailed property inventory.
The documents and photos without classification markings were found in boxes and containers in Trump’s office and a storage room. It does not specify how many were documents and how many were photos or their subject matter.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the information in the more detailed property receipt to be unsealed during a hearing Thursday on Trump’s request to have a special master review the evidence collected by the FBI in the Aug. 8 search.
Trump’s lawyers had complained that the initial property receipt the government had given them after the search — which showed that federal agents had removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some labeled secret and top secret — was too vague and didn’t say which items were found where.
The new version doesn’t shed much more light on the documents that investigators found, but it does show that a large number of them were found inside boxes and containers inside Trump’s “45 office” in the resort.
That’s significant because Trump’s attorneys had told investigators that all the records that had come from the White House were being kept in a Mar-a-Lago storage room, which agents had asked to be kept secure, according to the government’s court filings. That exchange happened in June, after the government subpoenaed Trump to turn over all documents with classification markings and Trump’s lawyer assured them that they had.
The Justice Department said the August search turned over “one hundred unique documents with classification markings,” and the new property receipt indicates some were kept in a haphazard manner. One “box/container” in the storage room contained 21 documents marked “Secret” and 11 documents marked “Confidential” alongside newspaper clippings, a book and three “articles of clothing/gift items.”
At the hearing, Trump’s lawyers suggested the documents were Trump’s personal records and complained that “ongoing negotiations” with the National Archives had “suddenly been transformed into a criminal investigation.”
Lawyers for the Justice Department said all the government documents that were retrieved belong to the White House, not Trump, and then he and his lawyers flooded a subpoena demanding the return of all documents with classification markings.