The US Department of Justice on Tuesday accused former President Donald Trump’s lawyers of attempting to obstruct investigations into confidential documents kept at Trump’s Florida mansion, called Mar-a-Lago: lawyers allegedly hid or removed them to avoid that they were found. The Justice Department’s allegations offer one of the most detailed explanations given so far as to the motives of the search made at the villa in the night between 8 and 9 August by the FBI, the investigative agency of the US federal police.
After the search, Trump filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, which on August 26 had motivated it by claiming that “it was likely to believe” that there were other confidential documents in the villa, in addition to those that had already been found.
The document released on Tuesday provides a much more circumscribed and detailed explanation than that: the department explained that the search warrant for the villa in Florida had been issued after the collection of “numerous evidence” attesting to the attempts of Trump’s lawyers to obstruct the investigation in course, hiding the documents and avoiding handing them over to the authorities. The document provides the most complete and detailed timeline to date on the interactions between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives on the issue of confidential documents.
To understand the accusations of the Justice Department, we must take a step back: that of the confidential documents brought to Mar-a-Lago is a matter that has been talked about since last February, when the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), an agency of the United States government in charge of preserving the country’s most important government and historical documents, he had asked the Justice Department to investigate a possible misuse of confidential documents by Trump.
As part of this investigation last May, officials from the Justice Department and the FBI obtained a warrant to go to Trump’s Florida mansion and have his lawyers deliver the confidential documents kept in the mansion. The visit took place last June 3: Trump’s lawyers had delivered 38 confidential documents, and assured the officials of the Justice Department and the FBI that there were no others in the villa, and that they had all been stored in a single deposit.
The Justice Department document states that further investigations by the FBI had proved otherwise, with “evidence that government documents were likely hidden or removed from storage, possibly to hinder government investigations.” During the August search, the FBI seized over 100 classified documents, three of which were hidden in an office drawer.