A lawyer for former President Trump signed a statement in June asserting that all material marked classified and held in storage at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, the New York Times reports. The declaration was made after a visit to Mar-a-Lago by Jay Bratt, top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division. The signed declaration was a possible indication that Trump or his team were not forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. It could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the warrant used to carry out the daylong search of Mar-a-Lago on Monday, an extraordinary step that generated political shock waves.
An inventory of material taken from Trump’s home showed that FBI agents seized 11 sets of documents with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Such information is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility. Trump said he had declassified all the material in his possession while he was still in office. He did not provide any documentation that he had done so. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said, “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 warrant said FBI agents were seeking evidence related to possible violations of an obstruction statute as well as the Espionage Act and a statute that bars the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents. No one has been charged in the case.