In the initial batch of 15 boxes sent in January, more than 100 classified documents containing more than 700 pages were retrieved by the archives from Mar-a-Lago, according to the letter released Monday night.
The documents include material marked as sensitive compartment information, meaning they must be viewed in a secure government facility, and special access programs, a classification that significantly limits who can access the information, the archives said. Told.
A May letter from Debra Steidel, the acting US archivist, provides important new details of months of negotiations between government officials and the Trump team earlier this year after 15 boxes of material were returned from March-a-Lago to the National Archives. Is. ,
When the archives first notified the Justice Department earlier this year the large amount of classified information it had obtained from Mar-a-Lago, justice officials held off on launching a criminal investigation, according to people with information on the matter. told CNN. Top officials weighed in on the national security implications of classified information stored in an insecure location, with the knowledge that a political blow from the FBI and federal prosecutors would again launch an investigation that had legal repercussions for Trump.
The delay in allowing the FBI to review the material came as archives wrestled with Trump’s possible claim of executive privilege, and the letter outlines discussions concerning the Justice Department’s office and legal counsel and the White House, here. Even Nixon’s weight. -era legal precedents, before letting the FBI do its job.
Ultimately, the Biden White House Counsel’s Office adjourned the archives, which allowed the Biden administration to launch what has now become a full criminal investigation investigating possible crimes involving misrepresenting national defense information. Presentation and obstruction of justice.
‘Not a close question’
Prior to sending the letter on May 10, the National Archives previously informed the Trump team on April 12 that it would provide the FBI with access to the documents, as outlined in its letter. The White House had blessed the archives to share the material with the FBI. But, at the request of the Trump team, the archives postponed that production until April 29.
Trump’s lawyers then – in letters apparently sent on April 29 and May 1 – asked the archives to further delay production, according to the account given in the May 10 letter, as the Trump team asked it to review. Needs more time. Documents for deciding to claim a privilege on any material.
In a May 10 letter, the Archives told Trump’s attorney that it was rejecting requests for further delays. The Archives asked Trump’s attorney whether he had consulted with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice to the executive branch, and was told there was no precedent in the current situation. President Joe Biden’s attorney told the archives that the archives had sought the advice of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel on how Biden was scouring the archives for a determination on how to handle Trump’s protective claims of privilege.
“The question in this case is not a close one,” the archives said. “The executive branch here is seeking access to records belonging to the federal government, and to investigate not only whether those records were handled illegally, but the National Security Division explained. ‘Storage of these materials. and to assess the possible damage caused by a clear mode of transport and to take any necessary remedial steps.
Trump’s ‘witch hunt’ claim continues
The version of events laid out in the new letter shows what steps the archives were willing to take to accommodate Trump’s privilege concerns. Nevertheless, Trump and his aides have pointed to claims that indicate he was the victim of a “witch hunt”, in particular because of the letter’s mention of communications the archives had with the Biden White House. .
“The White House firmly stated that they were not involved, and knew absolutely nothing about the ongoing political witch hunt with me, and that they knew absolutely nothing about the break-in of Mar-a-Lago. ” Trump said on Truth Social.
The letter was made public on August 9, hours after Trump filed suit in federal court to appoint a special master to investigate evidence the FBI found in the Mar-a-Lago search. How successful the new gamble will be is unclear. It was filed two weeks after it was discovered and the Trump legal team has yet to file the type of emergency motion that would speed up consideration of the request. The trial, filled with fiery political rhetoric, also lacked strong legal arguments for why a judge should interfere in the matter.
This story has been updated with additional details.