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Unsealed records reveal more classified records found after initial Mar-a-Lago raid

Lawyers for Donald Trump uncovered two more rounds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home following the controversial 2022 FBI raid at the former president’s resort home in Florida, according to newly unsealed records.

The filings stem from a March 17, 2023 opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell pertaining to subpoenas issued between November 2022 and January 2023 by a grand jury sitting in Washington, D.C., according to the 87-page memorandum opinion. The unearthed filings shed light on additional records uncovered by Trump’s attorneys in the months after FBI agents who executed a raid on the property retrieved troves of classified documents at the center of special counsel Jack Smith‘s indictment.

On or about Dec. 15, 2022, Trump’s lawyers told the Justice Department that “a box containing four documents or partial documents, totaling six pages, with classified markings were found in a closet,” according to Howell’s opinion, which noted the documents contained markings at the “Secret level.”

“That was still not the end of the production of responsive records,” Howell wrote, noting Trump’s office provided an additional box with the four documents to the FBI on approximately Jan. 5, 2023.

Trump’s office also provided the FBI with “two additional documents” responsive to a May 2022 subpoena, which included “one empty folder and another mostly empty folder marked ‘Classified Evening Summary’ that were found in the former president’s bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.”

The newly public opinion by Howell also revealed fresh details about how Smith’s team provided evidence that Trump made additional efforts to hide the classified documents from the government.

Howell found that Smith had made a “likely” showing that Trump told his associates to “avoid the surveillance cameras he then understood to have been deputized by the government.” The judge’s findings were also informed by the compelled testimony of former Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran as part of her ruling granting a crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege.

Trump was charged in the summer of 2023 with a superseding indictment, along with aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos De Oliveira, over allegations of violating a section of U.S. law pertaining to tampering with evidence.

The former president faces a total of 40 counts in the Florida federal indictment surrounding alleged retention of classified documents and conspiracy to hide them from the government and his own attorneys.

The Washington judge also lambasted the post-raid discovery of new materials, saying “no excuse” was given as to how Trump “could miss the classified-marked documents found in his own bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.”

“Instead, the government has provided evidence to demonstrate that the full arc of the criminal violation had already concluded more than six months before his search of Mar-a-Lago, when the evidence demonstrates the former president intentionally failed to provide all the classified documents in his possession to the government with the June 3, 2022 Certification,” Howell wrote.

The unsealed records from Howell come as Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) are investigating the dismissal of Stefanik’s misconduct complaint against Howell over possible prejudicial statements Howell made about Trump’s separate four-count felony criminal case involving an alleged effort to subvert the 2020 election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges in both federal indictments. 

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump appointee presiding over the classified documents case, ruled earlier this month to suspend the May 20 start date of the criminal trial indefinitely. The move has cast into doubt the prospects of bringing the case to a trial before the 2024 presidential election as Trump seeks a second term in the Oval Office.

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