WASHINGTON People with knowledge of the situation told NBC News on Friday that the Department of Justice suspects that former President Donald Trump still has the records he allegedly stole from the White House.
According to the individuals, Jay Bratt, the department’s senior counterintelligence official, recently informed Trump’s attorneys of his concern.
The agency thought Trump hadn’t given back all of the documents he stole from the White House, according to The New York Times on Thursday. The Wall Street Journal also gave this an confirmed rating.
Several important questions remain unanswered in light of the revelation, including whether the department has proof that Trump still has access to classified information or whether its suspicions are merely based on circumstantial evidence, such as the empty envelopes with classified markings that were found at Mar-a-Lago or information from the National Archives that it is still lacking records from Trump’s presidency.
The government has indicated in a number of court filings that some presidential records may still be missing.
The Justice Department complained in a September filing that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision appears to prevent the FBI and DOJ from further reviewing the records to identify any patterns in the types of records that were retained, which could lead to the identification of other records still missing. Cannon’s decision prevented the Justice Department from accessing documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.
The FBI’s seizure of empty envelopes marked “classified” at Mar-a-Lago has also been cited by the Justice Department as evidence that some docents may be missing.
According to The Times, there was disagreement among Trump’s legal team about how to respond to the Justice Department’s inquiries about any additional records the former president may have in his possession. One group, led by attorney Chris Kise, suggested hiring a forensic accounting firm to look for more records. According to the Times, Trump was dissuaded from that plan by other attorneys. The reported disagreement has not been independently confirmed by NBC News.
Justice Department officials opted not to comment. Kise has been contacted by NBC for comment.
Trump, meantime, submitted an urgent plea to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, requesting that it take the case and permit a special master to examine secret documents that the government investigators collected from Trump’s Florida resort. The motion was made in response to an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision from September 21 that allowed the Justice Department to begin using classified materials obtained from Mar-a-Lago in its criminal investigation but forbade the special master from evaluating them.
According to Trump’s attorneys, that portion of the federal appeals court’s ruling severely hampers the special master’s ongoing, urgent work. Furthermore, any restrictions on the thorough and open evaluation of the evidence gathered during the exceptional raid on a president’s house undermine the public’s confidence in our legal system.
The Trump White House’s papers have still not all been turned over in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, according to information sent last week to the House Oversight and Reform Committee by the National Archives.
A receipt of recovered materials revealed that officers discovered a wealth of top-secret and other highly classified documents many days after the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Florida property. Eleven sets of sensitive documents, some of which were marked as secret and top secret, were taken out by federal investigators.