Trump hires team to search for classified material in his properties

Former President Donald J. Trump hired people to search three of his properties after a federal judge directed a closer look for any classified material he still had, but they found nothing, according to two people familiar with the matter. thing.

The searches, completed around Thanksgiving, were at Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey; at Trump Tower in New York; and at his private club and residence in Florida, according to people familiar with the matter. A storage area at Mar-a-Lago.

The New York Times reported in October that Justice Department officials had told lawyers for the former president they believed he might have more classified material that had not been returned in response to a subpoena issued in May. The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August looking for more classified documents and other presidential records.

After the Justice Department issued a warning, a debate ensued between Mr. Trump’s lawyers on whether to bring in an independent firm to conduct the search.

The Washington Post reported earlier that a search had been carried out.

Steven Cheung, Spokesperson for Mr. In a statement, Trump said the former president and “his lawyers continue to cooperate and be transparent despite the unprecedented illegal and unprovoked attacks against President Trump and his family by a weaponized Justice Department.”

The department is investigating the former president’s handling of thousands of government documents, including more than 300 classified documents that were taken from the White House and discovered at Mar-a-Lago towards the end of his term. Prosecutors are also seeking to determine whether Mr. Trump obstructed repeated government efforts to retrieve the material.

When the Justice Department warned it believed Mr. Trump still holds the documents, advises Christopher M. Kise, a lawyer he recently hired, and others who work for Trump. Trump asked them to hire an outside firm, according to people familiar with the matter.

A cadre of other Trump lawyers opposed the idea. Among them is Boris Epshteyn, a communications consultant who has positioned himself as Trump’s in-house counsel for some of his projects. Trump’s legal troubles. The dispute resulted in Mr. Kise stood by Mr. Trump’s circle for weeks, according to several people close to the former president.

Most recently, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, who oversees the grand jury investigation, directed Mr. Trump’s lawyers are essentially searching for any remaining documents more closely. Other attorneys for Mr. Trump’s circle took up the issue and hired a firm, according to a person familiar with the matter.

But while the Justice Department continues to have questions about the documents that may remain at Mar-a-Lago, as do some people close to Trump. Trump thinks another search warrant might be executed — and a person familiar with the discussions among federal officials said there hadn’t been any possible reason to get a warrant for Bedminster or Trump Tower recently.

The National Archives made repeated inquiries last year about the status of some materials it was supposed to receive, such as correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and about two dozen boxes that were considered presidential records at the end of Kim Jong Un’s presidency. Trump’s term.

Archives officials contacted several people in an attempt to broker the return of the documents, including a former White House counsel attorney who served for Mr. Trump. Trump’s representative at the agency. The former president insisted to several advisers that the boxes were filled with news clippings and personal items; archival officials explained that news clippings could be considered presidential records.

Alex Cannon, a lawyer who worked with Mr. Last fall, Trump got involved in various capacities and tried to help archival officials retrieve the material.

gentlemen. Mr Cannon warned others. Trump circles won’t inspect the boxes themselves because it’s not clear what’s in them and people may need security clearance. Once, if Mr. As Trump scoured the National Archives for documents related to an investigation into whether his 2016 campaign conspired with Russian officials, he offered his lawyers a suggestion for a deal with the agency: what he was seeking in exchange for the documents he possessed.

Lawyers rejected the suggestion, and Mr. Cannon continues to push for the document’s return to the archives.

Eric Herschmann, a lawyer who served as a senior adviser in the Trump administration, spoke informally with Mr. Trump. trump card. People familiar with the discussions described it as Mr. Hirschman urged the former president to return the boxes as a friend, suggesting he could run into legal trouble keeping them, especially if they contained classified material.

That possibility became a reality in January, after archives officials retrieved Mr. Last December, Trump had a few days. Officials opened the boxes and found some classified documents. The Justice Department stepped in.

When Mr Cannon proposed the prospect to Mr. Trump said officials were unsure if they had returned everything, and the former president told him to tell officials he had returned everything, according to a person familiar with the matter. gentlemen. Cannon refused to do so, and soon stopped participating.

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