The FBI is focusing on the issue of whether former President Donald Trump’s crew committed a crime by hindering the investigation into top-secret federal data found at Mar-a-Lago. According to a recent report, government data were destroyed and covered up, and law enforcement officers were misinformed about what was still available.
There is no guarantee that Trump or anybody else will end up being charged based on the accusation. But since the Justice Department has typically seen obstruction as an aggravating factor that tilts in favor of pursuing charges in investigations involving the improper handling of classified material, it may provide the greatest immediate legal danger to Trump or others in his sphere.
David Laufman, who once commanded the same Justice Department counterintelligence division in charge of the Mar-a-Lago inquiry, said that the attempt to undermine the basic integrity of our criminal justice system was at the core of the matter.
The most recent Justice Department move in the lawsuit is more concerned with the events of this past spring than it is with the transfer of classified material from the White House to Mar-a-Lago last year. At that point, law enforcement officers made an unsuccessful attempt to recover all of the papers and received the false assurance that everything had been located after a “diligent search.”
Grand jury documents were demanded by the Justice Department in May, and on June 3, representatives went to Mar-a-Lago to obtain them. According to the department memo released on Tuesday, a Trump lawyer gave them a “single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape” carrying papers when they arrived.
Any and all papers that were relevant to the subpoena had been identified and provided, according to a sworn declaration that the custodian of the records gave to the authorities. One of Donald Trump’s attorneys said that all papers obtained from the White House were kept in a storage room and that none were kept in any of the home’s bedrooms or other private areas.
However, the FBI began to question the veracity of those claims and secured a search warrant to return on August 8.
According to the latest Justice Department filing, authorities “discovered evidence that federal materials were likely hidden and removed from the Storage Room and that steps were likely conducted to hinder the government’s investigation.”
According to the Justice Department, during their search in August, investigators discovered three classified papers on a desk in the former president’s office in addition to the storage area. Because the information was so highly secret, in some cases the agents and lawyers reviewing the confiscated papers needed further clearances.
The document claims that “the representations made in the June 3 certification call into serious question the representations that the ‘diligent search’ that the former president’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform recovers twice as many documents with classification markings” and “casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter.”
Trump’s attorneys criticized the search in a document they filed on Wednesday night, claiming it occurred “in the middle of the customary give-and-take” between a former president and the National Archives and Materials Administration over presidential records. It said that the agency had “gratuitously” released certain material, including a picture of classified paperwork that had been retrieved from the house.
In court records, the Justice Department has claimed that in addition to looking into offenses involving the improper handling of national security material and other documents, it is also determining if anybody engaged in obstruction.
Trump has often asserted that his staff was cooperating with the FBI, but it is unclear from Tuesday’s filing how much of that investigation would focus on him rather than any of his attorneys or representatives who were directly engaged in making the claims to the department. What part Trump played in such depictions is likewise unknown.
Obstruction is significant because investigators consider it while deciding whether to file charges. For instance, FBI Director James Comey mentioned the lack of obstruction as one of the grounds in his July 2016 statement that the FBI would not be recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton in an investigation regarding the management of her emails.
The Justice Department made a point of providing information concerning allegedly false comments former CIA Director David Petraeus allegedly made during an FBI interview when it accused him of sharing secret material with his biographer in court filings in 2015.
Additionally, it is not the first time that a Trump-related obstruction probe has come to light. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, looked into whether Trump had hindered an investigation into whether his 2016 campaign had collaborated with Russia. Mueller did not recommend charges against the president at the time, but he also explicitly did not exonerate him.
Federal investigators are likely looking into why Trump associates made claims about the whereabouts of sensitive material at Mar-a-Lago that were readily refuted by the evidence, as well as who was responsible for removing the boxes and why.
Former federal prosecutor and New York attorney Sarah Krissoff said that the thorough information in this week’s file speaks for itself.
Reading between the lines of what they stated here, she added, “it shows they had very direct knowledge from a source on the placement of classified papers within Mar-a-Lago and basically the concealment of, or lack of cooperation with, the past attempts to collect those documents.”
The goal of the petition on Tuesday night was to contest the Trump legal team’s request for a special master to examine the records found during this month’s search and to hand over some of the items that had been taken from him. U.S. The case will be argued before District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday.
The special master is required for fairness, according to Trump’s attorneys, who claimed that if the DOJ is uncontrolled, they would “impugn, leak, and publish certain elements of their investigation.”
On Saturday, Cannon said that she had “preliminary intent” to select such a person, but she also provided the Justice Department with a chance to comment.
The department said Tuesday that a special master was not required and that the presidential records that were taken from the home do not belong to Trump because it had already finished its review of potentially privileged documents and had found a “limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information.”