NYT: Trump Lawyer's June Declaration a Factor in Search

Attorney wrote that all classified material had been returned
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2022 9:30 AM CDT
NYT : Trump Lawyer's June Declaration a Factor in Search
The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

(Newser) – The New York Times sheds some more light into the rationale behind the remarkable FBI search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence last week. The newspaper reports that one of Trump's attorneys provided a written declaration in June—following a visit to Mar-a-Lago by a top Justice Department official—that all classified material had been returned to the government. However, at least one unnamed witness suggested to investigators that the claim wasn't true, which might explain why the department raised the prospect of obstruction when seeking the warrant used to carry out the search.

Agents removed documents marked "classified/TS/SCI" during the search, the latter acronyms referring to "top secret" and "sensitive compartmented information." Material designated as such is supposed to be viewed only in a secure facility, notes the Times, and the Washington Post previously reported that some of the material concerned the nation's nuclear arsenal. One of the evolving debates is whether Trump, as president, declassified the documents before leaving office.

Trump had a “standing order” during his tenure that “documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them," ally John Solomon told Fox News. But others say it's not that simple when it comes to documents classified as "top secret" or higher, reports USA Today. "Even if, in fact, what he represents has taken place, there still can be exceedingly sensitive information that is required by law to be protected from unauthorized disclosure," says J. William Leonard, former head of the US National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office. Full answers may not emerge until more specifics are revealed about what was removed from Mar-a-Lago. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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