National Archives says at least 700 pages of classified materials seized from Trump’s home
The Justice Department seized at least 700 pages of classified materials when it first recovered documents from former President Trump’s Florida home in January, according to a letter released by the National Archives on Tuesday.
An exchange between the custodians for presidential records and Trump’s attorneys, released after it was first obtained by a conservative news outlet, indicated the former president’s legal team spent months attempting to block the FBI and the intelligence community from reviewing the documents to assess the potential national security fallout.
The exchange revealed that among the materials were those at “the highest levels of classification, including Special Access Program (SAP) materials.”
The letter from the National Archives, sent in May, also reiterated a warning first relayed by the Justice Department a month before.
“Access to the materials is not only necessary for purposes of our ongoing criminal investigation, but the Executive Branch must also conduct an assessment of the potential damage resulting from the apparent manner in which these materials were stored and transported and take any necessary remedial steps,” Debra Steidel Wall, acting archivist of the United States, wrote in relaying a message from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The letter offers new insights into the volume of documents that may have been stored at Mar-a-Lago, illuminating what was among the 15 boxes taken by Archives earlier this year.
Authorities separately seized another 11 sets of classified documents during an August search of Trump’s home.
The New York Times reported Monday that the government has recovered at least 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago since Trump left office.
The letter also indicates that Trump’s team of attorneys was able to successfully stymy the FBI from reviewing the materials for at least a month.
Wall’s letter makes clear that the FBI was eager to begin a damage assessment to determine whether any information was improperly shared and to take next steps to protect various sources of information gathering.
Her correspondence came at a key time in the government’s battle to get the documents. The day after the May 10 letter informed the Trump legal team they’d be turning over the documents to the FBI, the Justice Department issued a subpoena seeking remaining classified materials stored at Mar-a-Lago.
The letter is also a wholesale rejection of any executive privilege claims from Trump.
“The question in this case is not a close one. The Executive Branch here is seeking access to records belonging to, and in the custody of, the Federal Government itself,” Wall writes of the FBI request.
“There is no reason to believe such reviews could ‘adversely affect the ability of future Presidents to obtain the candid advice necessary for effective decision making.’ To the contrary: Ensuring that classified information is appropriately protected, and taking any necessary remedial action if it was not, are steps essential to preserving the ability of future Presidents to “receive the full and frank submissions of facts and opinions upon which effective discharge of [their] duties depends.”
Updated 2:15 p.m.