A Trump lawyer told the Justice Department that the classified material was withdrawn

Former President Donald J. At least one of Trump’s lawyers signed a written statement in June, saying Mr. Confirms that all items classified and boxed in a storage area at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and club have been returned to the government. , said four knowledgeable documents.

A top counterintelligence officer in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, J.I. The written announcement was made after Pratt visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3.

The existence of the signed declaration, which was not previously reported, Mr. It’s a possible sign that Trump or his team have not been fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the matter. That may help explain why the department cited a possible violation of the embargo-related criminal statute as a basis for obtaining the warrant used to conduct a daytime search of the former president’s home on Monday, an unusual move that created a political uproar. waves.

Mr. It also helps further explain the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months of trying to resolve the issue through discussions with Trump and his team.

The object is an inventory Published on Friday Mr. During the search, FBI agents seized 11 sets of documents from Trump’s home that contained some form of secret or classified identification, including some of them “CLASSIFIED/TS/SCI” — short for “above.” Confidential/Sensitive Information.” Information classified as such should be viewed only in a secure government facility.

Not only was the storage area where the boxes of items known to the judiciary were kept, but Mr. The search also included Trump’s office and residence. The search warrant and inventory unsealed Friday did not specify where the documents marked classified were found on the Mar-a-Lago campus.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had declassified all of his possessions while in office. He did not provide any documentation of doing so.

Taylor Pudovich, a spokesman for the former president, said on Saturday, “Like every witch hunt ever created by Democrats before, the waters of this unprecedented and unnecessary trial are based on media-suggested leaks, anonymous sources and nothing else. Hard facts.”

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The search warrant said FBI agents were conducting the search to look for evidence related to possible violations of the Embargo and Espionage Act and laws that prevent the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents. No one has been charged in the case, and a search warrant on its own doesn’t mean there won’t be anyone.

Last year, National Archives officials said Mr. When Trump left the White House at the end of his tumultuous tenure in January 2021, they discovered he took a large number of documents and other government items with him. For archives under the terms of the Presidential Records Act.

Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of items in January this year. When archivists examined the material, they found several pages of documents with classified markings and referred the matter to the Justice Department, which opened an investigation and convened a grand jury.

In the spring, the department Mr. It subpoenaed Trump for additional documents it believed he may have had. Although they described wanting to keep some of the documents, the former president was repeatedly urged by advisers to return the rest.

In an attempt to resolve the dispute, Mr. Pratt and other officials visited Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., in early June and met briefly with Mr. Trump while they were there. Mr. Trump’s two lawyers, M. Evan Corcoran and Christina Popp as Mr. Pratt and the small number of investigators he traveled with were briefed on the crowd.

Mr. Corcoran and Ms. Bob said Mr. Pratt and his team showed up to the boxes, People said.

As two people recounted the visit, Mr. Pratt and his team left with additional classified material and received a written notice from Trump’s attorney at the time.

Shortly after the meeting, as people reported it, Mr. Pratt, Mr. Sent an email to Corcoran. Mr. The Trump team complied.

The Justice Department subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, including footage from outside the storage room. According to a person briefed on the matter, the sightings sparked concern among investigators about handling the material. It is not clear to what period the scenes belong.

In recent months, investigators said Mr. About half a dozen of Trump’s current aides were in contact with people who knew how the documents were handled, two people briefed on the approach. At least one witness has provided information to investigators that they want to put more pressure on Mr. Trump, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mr. Concerns about Trump’s handling of classified information date back to the early days of his administration. Mr. As Trump left office, President Biden quickly took an unusual step Prevents receipt of intelligence briefings Traditionally given to former presidents, Mr. He said Trump could not be trusted because of his “erratic behavior.”

Mr. Even with Trump in office, the security of classified information at Mar-a-Lago has been a concern for government officials. During his presidency, the government built a critical area information facility known as SCIF – Mr. Created for Trump’s use while at the club.

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Expressing alarm over the documents obtained from Mar-a-Lago, the heads of two House committees called on Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines on Saturday to conduct an “immediate review and damage assessment” and issue a declassification. Briefing Congress on potential harm to national security.

“Even as the Justice Department’s investigation continues, it is critical that we ensure that we take all necessary steps to protect classified information and mitigate the damage to national security that its compromise could cause,” said committee chairwoman, Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat and Oversight Committee Chairman Adam P., California Democrat. Schiff and the head of the investigative committee also wrote to Ms. Haynes.

On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick P. Garland He made a public statement Mr. He said he personally approved of the decision to obtain a search warrant for Trump’s property, and pointed out that the Justice Department would have taken such a step only after trying less invasive measures.

Mr. Shortly before Garland made the announcement, Mr. A person close to Trump reached out to a Justice Department official to relay a message from the former president to the attorney general. Mr. Mr. Trump said he checked with people around the country and that they were outraged by the search. Garland wanted to know.

“The country is on fire” is Mr. The message Trump wanted to convey, said a person familiar with the exchange. “What should I do to reduce the heat?”

The next day, Mr. Trump has alternated between saying he has done nothing wrong and making unsubstantiated claims that authorities may have kept evidence on his property during the search.

Katie Benner And Luke Broadwater Contributed report.

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