The FBI says it seized empty folders with classified banners and top secret documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
FBI agents found dozens of folders with “classified” banners, some of which were empty, at former US President Donald Trump’s Florida home when they searched it last month, an unsealed inventory of the recovered materials shows.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon made more documents about the search public on Friday, revealing that the FBI recovered 18 records marked as “top secret” during the August 8 search. Agents also seized more than 10,000 government records without any classification markings.
The detailed inventory also showed that 43 empty folders with classified banners were taken from a box or container at an office at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Similar folders were also found in a storage room.
The folders with classified markings and secret documents were found in boxes or containers that also contained non-official material, including magazines, newspapers and books.
The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Trump’s possible mishandling of classified information after leaving office.
An affidavit released last week revealed that United States authorities sought to search the former president’s home to retrieve secret government documents, including materials possibly containing “National Defense Information”.
In a court filing accompanying the detailed inventory, dated August 30, the Justice Department said it examined every item seized from Trump’s home – other than potentially privileged documents – but is still reviewing the materials.
“The seized materials will continue to be used to further the government’s investigation, and the investigative team will continue to use and evaluate the seized materials as it takes further investigative steps, such as through additional witness interviews and grand jury practice,” the filings read.
It added that the evidence “will inform the government’s investigation”.
The release of the detailed inventory comes as Cannon considers granting Trump’s request to appoint a neutral “special master” to oversee the review of documents taken during the Mar-a-Lago search for materials that may contain lawyer-client privileged information.
In the August 30 court filing released on Friday, the Justice Department said the “investigative team has been and will be continually mindful of the potential for attorney-client privilege issues and the filter protocols contained in the search warrant”.
The Justice Department said earlier this week that it identified a “limited” number of such documents.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is also reviewing the classification and potential national security risk of documents seized in the search.
The search of Mar-a-Lago spurred a firestorm of Republican criticism against the FBI and the Department of Justice, with several GOP lawmakers accusing the Biden administration without evidence of investigating Trump for political reasons.
President Joe Biden has denied having prior knowledge of the search and insisted that the White House does not interfere in Justice Department-led investigations.
Trump also claims that he declassified the documents before leaving office in early 2021.