The United States Justice Department is looking into the story of a certain box found at former president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in December containing a handful of classified documents which managed to evade several FBI raids until that point, according to a recent exclusive CNN report.
The box, according to CNN, primarily contained old presidential schedules with a few classified records among them. In late 2021, a Trump staffer at Mar-a-Lago- where Trump works out of a repurposed bridal suite- handed off the box to an aide with instructions to scan all of the presidential schedules to create a digitized collection. Left to her own devices without the use of a scanner, she used an application on her phone to create scanned files and upload them to a Trump-owned laptop, the CNN report explains.
“After we did the search in December and found within this box of thousands that there were a couple of pages that had a little marking at the bottom, which we turned over, after that, we found out that she had scanned the box so that it would be digitized,” Tim Parlatore, an attorney for Trump, said in an interview with CNN earlier this month. “She had no idea that there was any classification markings on anything. And as soon as we found out about that, we called up the DOJ to let them know and immediately provided them access to it.”
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to give a comment to CNN.
Elusive classified documents
“When the team found the box, it was initially believed that the FBI had simply missed it during the search warrant. But upon further investigation, the legal team discovered that an aide had moved it as part of her job function.”Source
The box was then transported in November 2021 to an office in Palm Beach, Florida, where it remained even after Trump handed over 15 boxes containing classified and other federal records to the National Archives in January 2022.
In May 2022, the US Justice Department subpoenaed for the return of all classified records in Trump's possession, and the box was not turned over.
The FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago property in August 2022, during which time the box in question was residing in Palm Beach.
In November 2022, at the request of the Justice Department, Trump's legal team hired two people to search four additional locations for classified documents, CNN reported. There was some back-and-forth between the Justice Department and Trump's legal team, which delayed a thorough search of the Palm Beach office. The team finally did encounter the elusive box in December.
“When the team found the box, it was initially believed that the FBI had simply missed it during the search warrant. But upon further investigation, the legal team discovered that an aide had moved it as part of her job function,” one source told CNN.
The troubles of the Trump supporters
Trump's allies in the US government have had a number of run-ins with judicial entities in the last several months.
A Republican congressman's court battle to protect his cell phone records prevented federal investigators from reviewing over 2,200 documents in their investigation of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The newspaper published links to previously sealed opinions by US District Judge Beryl Howell, chief judge for the District of Columbia, which found that "powerful public interest" outweighed Republican Representative Scott Perry's asserted need for secrecy under the US Constitution.
Perry - a Trump ally who helped spread false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through widespread voting fraud - has sought to prevent the Justice Department from reviewing the contents of his cellphone since it was seized last summer.
The lawmaker maintains that his cellphone's contents are shielded from disclosure under a constitutional provision that gives members of Congress immunity from civil litigation or criminal prosecution for actions arising in the course of their legislative duties.
Lying under oath
On February 16, it came out that several witnesses may have lied under oath during a grand jury probe of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia, according to excerpts from the grand jury’s findings released that day.
The grand jury also concluded that there was no widespread fraud in the election, despite Trump's false claims that fraud caused his defeat, and delivered recommendations on indictments to prosecutors, the document showed.
Trump was not subpoenaed as a witness and did not appear before the grand jury, his lawyers have said. He has not been charged with any crime.
Reuters contributed to this report.