(The Hill) – Justice Department records unsealed on Friday offer new details about the volume of documents former President Trump stored in his personal office at Mar-a-Lago, as well as other items seized during the search of his Florida home.
The filing underscores just how many presidential records Trump was storing at his home and offers a breakdown of the more than 100 classified documents the Department of Justice (DOJ) says it recovered from Mar-a-Lago.
FBI agents found 43 empty folders with classified banners in Trump’s personal office as well as another 28 empty folders that were labeled “return to staff secretary/military aide,” according to the inventory.
The records were unsealed Friday by order of a federal judge who is reviewing a request from Trump to appoint a third-party special master to review the evidence seized, including a motion to block the FBI’s investigation during that review.
The inventory offers few new details about the classified materials themselves stored at Mar-a-Lago, but it does shed light on the extent classified materials were intermixed with Trump’s personal belongings.
A brief filed by the government just before midnight Tuesday indicated they found three classified records within Trump’s very own desk.
But the Friday inventory details in broad strokes the others that were found within his office: three documents marked confidential, 17 documents marked secret and seven documents marked top-secret.
Their location in Trump’s office could be significant to the Justice Department’s investigation, particularly after it alleged earlier this week that items were “likely concealed and removed.”
Storage in Trump’s personal office, rather than the storage room at Mar-a-Lago, could undercut potential claims that staff were unaware of the extent classified materials were stored on the property.
Earlier review of items seized indicates some of the items recovered were stored alongside Trump’s passports.
In a filing accompanying the latest inventory, the Justice Department noted that “all evidence — including the nature and manner in which they were stored” — will inform their investigation.
An FBI affidavit the DOJ used to request the warrant that allowed for the search indicated the storage of such documents at Mar-a-Lago could constitute a violation of the Espionage Act.
And the Tuesday filing from DOJ also expanded on the government’s rationale for including an obstruction statute on its warrant, breaking down numerous efforts to recover documents and indicating Trump’s team failed to turn over some documents even after receiving a subpoena.
The filing also breaks down the staggering number of government documents Trump was storing at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump retained nearly 10,000 of what the Justice Department calls “US government documents/photographs without classification markings.”
Of those, 1,463 records were kept in Trump’s office with another 8,141 kept in the storage room at Mar-a-Lago.
Though the documents weren’t classified, it’s another important detail in the case. While DOJ’s investigation has primarily been focused on the tranche of classified records in Trump’s home, they’ve also duked it out with Trump’s team over what they say are presidential records that must be returned.
Part of Trump’s argument for a special master is that documents taken from his home could be protected by attorney-client as well as executive privileges.
But DOJ said Trump may have violated the Presidential Records Act by keeping presidential records that former executives have always turned over to the National Archives.
The Justice Department said Tuesday that Trump’s claim that some of the materials may be covered by executive privilege only strengthen their case that he improperly took records that are government property and should be managed by Archives.
“Any Presidential records seized pursuant to the search warrant belong to the United States, not to the former President,” DOJ wrote.
“Plaintiff’s Motion, in fact, asserts that ‘the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022 … were created during his term as President.’ These are precisely the types of documents that likely constitute Presidential records.”