Joe Raedle/Getty Images
- Trump claimed that government records seized from Mar-a-Lago last year were empty folders marked “classified” or “confidential.”
- He went on to say that he kept the “ordinary, inexpensive folders” because they were a “‘cool’ keepsake.”
- The DOJ has released photographic evidence showing the roughly one hundred pages of classified records recovered.
Former President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that the government documents the FBI recovered from Mar-a-Lago last summer were just empty folders marked “classified” or “confidential.”
“When I was in the Oval Office, or elsewhere, * ‘papers’ were distributed to groups of people & me, they would often be in a striped paper folder with ‘Classified’ or ‘Confidential’ or another word on them,” he wrote on his Twitter-esque social media site Truth Social. “When the session was over, they would collect the paper(s), but not the folders, & I saved hundreds of them.”
He added: “Remember, these were just ordinary, inexpensive folders with various words printed on them, but they were a ‘cool’ keepsake.” Trump also referred to the FBI as the “Gestapo” and “Trump Hating Marxist Thugs,” saying that perhaps they “took some of these empty folders when they Raided Mar-a-Lago, & counted them as a document, which they are not.” And he reiterated the false claim that the FBI “planted” evidence at Mar-a-Lago when it executed a search warrant at the property in August — a claim his lawyers have stopped short of repeating in court filings.
The former president’s claim that the FBI merely recovered empty folders from Mar-a-Lago is untrue, according to photos released by the Justice Department of materials seized from Trump’s south Florida estate.
Documents seized by FBI at Mar-a-Lago.
Department of Justice
There is also no proof that the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago. Senior judge Raymond Dearie, who was shortly appointed “special master” in the case, repeatedly pressed Trump’s legal team to provide proof of his claim that documents were planted at his Florida home. They did not provide any such evidence, and a federal appeals court nullified Dearie’s appointment in December.
Trump on Wednesday also accused President Joe Biden, who’s facing his own federal investigation connected to his mishandling of classified information, of having violated the law.
“Biden is being treated so much better than me, I’m shocked (not really!),” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Why aren’t they raiding his house, & how come his representatives and lawyers are allowed to work together with the Gestapo in looking for documents, when my lawyers & representatives were not allowed anywhere near the search. We weren’t even allowed to know what they took when they raided my home.”
Legal scholars and DOJ veterans have pointed out, however, that the feds were forced to execute a search warrant for Trump’s home because he resisted turning over thousands of pages of sensitive records over more than 18 months of negotiations between his legal team and the US government.
In Biden’s case, according to the White House and media reports, the president’s lawyers informed the National Archives immediately after discovering a cache of classified records at his old office at a Washington, DC, think tank in November.
Following that discovery, Biden’s legal team undertook an “exhaustive” search and uncovered a second batch of classified documents at another location, NBC News reported last week. The White House has said that the president was not aware of what information is contained in the documents and that he and his lawyers are cooperating with the Justice Department as it investigates Biden’s improper storage of government documents.
The development has put the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland in the unprecedented position of overseeing two concurrent special counsel investigations — one focusing on Trump, run by special counsel Jack Smith, and the other focusing on Biden, run by special counsel Robert Hur — into the current and former president’s handling of national security information.
But legal experts cautioned against conflating the two inquiries based on what’s currently known, saying that while the Biden matter should be scrutinized through a criminal and counterintelligence lens, there are key differences between it and the Mar-a-Lago documents case in terms of both scale and scope.
“This only seems like a big deal because of the Trump issue, when in fact it shares characteristics not with Trump’s fact set, but with all the other incidents the public never hears about,” Matt Miller, a former DOJ spokesperson under the Obama administration, told Insider last week.
Barbara McQuade, the former US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, also told Insider that Biden’s case appears to be different from Trump’s because it doesn’t appear to have “aggravating factors” — like obstruction of justice and willful violation of the law — that Trump’s does.