Little has been divulged by the Justice Department about the decision to retrieve White House records with an unannounced search of Mar-a-Lago on Monday. Attorney General Merrick Garland revealed Friday that he had “personally approved” the extraordinary step to seek the warrant, and the Justice Department made the warrant public on Friday, revealing that the government is investigating Trump for potential violation of three criminal statutes, including the Espionage Act.
The former president was indignant that the FBI had undertaken a surprise search of Mar-a-Lago and suggested that his team had been complying with the government’s requests.
“[T]hey didn’t need to “seize” anything,” he said in a Truth Social post Friday. “They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request… …They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.”
But CBS News has learned that weeks before the search, a Trump lawyer signed a document certifying that all classified materials had been removed from Mar-a-Lago, according to two sources familiar with the timeline of events and the decision to seek the search warrant.
This occurred after a meeting on June 3 between Justice Department officials and the former president’s lawyers at Mar-a-Lago. A grand jury subpoena had been issued in the spring, according to two sources, one close to Trump and the other, a U.S. official.
But after the Trump attorney certified that all classified materials had been removed from Mar-a-Lago, investigators gleaned that in fact, there might still be more classified documents at the Florida residence because they had spoken with a handful of individuals familiar with where and how the documents are stored at the compound. It is not clear if these individuals are staffers for Trump or for the Mar-a-Lago club.
On Sunday afternoon, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Mark Warner and vice chair Sen. Marco Rubio requested the Justice Department and the director of National Intelligence provide the committee with the classified documents that were seized in the search of Mar a Lago, and an “assessment of potential risks to national security as a result of their mishandling.”
The New York Times first reported on the Trump attorney’s certification of the removal of the classified material from Mar-a-Lago.
Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich, asked for comment on the signed document, replied, “Just like every Democrat-fabricated witch hunt previously, the water of this unprecedented and unnecessary raid is being carried by a media willing to run with suggestive leaks, anonymous sources, and no hard facts. The Biden administration thought they could “get Trump,” instead, they’ve been exposed as the very people who turn democracies into dictatorships.”
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