Trump Lawyers Stopped FBI Agents Checking Storage Room Boxes—Filing

Donald Trump's lawyers had "explicitly prohibited" the FBI from looking inside a storage room at the former president's Mar-a-Lago resort when agents were attempting to retrieve classified documents in June.

In court filings released Tuesday, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said it had evidence that Trump's counsel had attempted to conceal several boxes of White House records from federal agents after being subpoenaed to hand them over in May.

Prosecutors also describe how Trump's counsel had falsely asserted that all classified documents were handed over to the FBI when agents came to visit the Mar-a-Lago resort on June 3.

trump documents fbi search
Former President Donald Trump stands on stage at a ‘Save America’ rally in support of Arizona GOP candidates on July 22, 2022 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The DoJ said Trump lawyers "explicitly prohibited" FBI agents from looking inside a storage room during a search of his Mar-a-Lago resort for classified records. Mario Tama/Getty Images

During that search, the former president's counsel "explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained," prosecutors said.

The DoJ said it has evidence that classified documents were "likely concealed and removed" from the storage room in Trump's Florida home and as part of attempts to "obstruct" the government's investigation into the former president's mishandling of sensitive material.

The DoJ documents filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida were to oppose a request from the Trump legal team for a special master to review the documents seized during an August search of Mar-a-Lago.

The filings are the strongest allegation from the government that Trump and his team not only purposely kept top-secret documents at the former president's home, but also took steps to mislead the federal investigation.

A total of 38 boxes of documents with classification markings being kept at Mar-a-Lago were handed over to the FBI on June 3. The filings state that agents were given a "single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape" that contained the documents, 17 of which were marked "top secret."

Prosecutors said counsel for the former president "offered no explanation" as to why boxes of classified information were being kept at Trump's home nearly 18 months after he left the White House, and after 15 boxes had already been retrieved in January 2022.

Trump's lawyers also told investigators that all White House records were stored in the Mar-a-Lago storage room and that there were no further records stored in any private office space or other location.

The FBI later carried out a search at Mar-a-Lago in August as part of the investigation into whether Trump removed classified information and failed to return documents when he left office in January 2021.

During the August 8 search, agents recovered further classified documents, including 76 from the storage room.

Agents also recovered documents from Trump's office, including three kept in his desk, with prosecutors stating there is "serious doubt" that Trump's counsel carried out a "diligent search" for the documents when asked to do so as part of the subpoena.

"That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the 'diligent search' that the former President's counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter," prosecutors said.

The DoJ also released a photo showing several classified documents placed on the floor of Trump's Mar-a-Lago office, including at least five that are named as "top secret," which were recovered during the August search.

Trump has since argued that the documents had been declassified before they were removed from the White House.

However, the DoJ said that, while some of the documents were handed over to the FBI in June, the former president's counsel gave no indication that the documents had been declassified or "asserted any claim of executive privilege."

Newsweek has contacted Trump and the DoJ for comment.