US authorities release damning image from Trump raid

Former US president Donald Trump has hit back after the US Department of Justice has released a damning photograph of an array of classified documents found in the FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The photograph, which was part of the US government’s latest court filing, is the most detailed picture of potential obstruction of justice by Mr Trump and his team since FBI agents searched his Florida resort last month amid an investigation into the former president’s handling of classified material.

It showed documents splayed across the carpet, with some including cover sheets showing their classification status, indicating “top secret” and “secret” material.

According to the filing, the FBI recovered more than 100 classified documents in 13 boxes from Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on August 8.

Trump raid documents

The FBI took the rare step of releasing this photo of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. Photo: Twitter

Agents were said to have found material so sensitive that “even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents”, the filing states.

Prosecutors are trying to determine if Mr Trump or his team attempted to prevent authorities from retrieving classified documents.

Mr Trump responded to the photograph on Wednesday, blasting the “terrible” way the FBI treated the classified material.

“Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see,” he wrote on his Truth Social network.

“Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified.”

More formally, his lawyers argued in their own court filing that the National Archives should have expected to find classified material among the 15 boxes Mr Trump turned over in January from Mar-a-Lago because they were presidential records. They say finding classified material at the former president’s home should have been no cause for alarm – and should not have led to the FBI search.

“The purported justification for the initiation of this criminal probe was the alleged discovery of sensitive information contained within the 15 boxes of presidential records,” Mr Trump’s lawyers wrote.

“But this ‘discovery’ was to be fully anticipated given the very nature of presidential records. Simply put, the notion that presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm.”

According to the latest court documents, US authorities tried to recover all classified records from Mar-a-Lago in June. They say Mr Trump’s team told them – falsely – that all were accounted for after a “diligent search.

But a review of highly classified records found “multiple sources of evidence” showing that “classified documents” remained at the Palm Beach home before the August 8 raid, the filing said.

The Department of Justice said more than twice as many documents were turned up in the August raid than found in the June search.

A total of 320 classified documents have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago, CNN reports.

This weeks court filings are part of a civil suit filed by Mr Trump earlier this month. He wants a “special master” appointed to review documents that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Federal prosecutors say that would impede their ongoing criminal investigation and the intelligence community’s review of any national security risks. They want the suit dismissed.

Topics: Donald Trump
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