Federal investigators quietly retrieved classified documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in June after obtaining a grand jury subpoena to return the documents to the National Archives, months prior to the search warrant that was executed on the property earlier this week.
Trump voluntarily complied with the subpoena request and met with federal officials that month as they arrived at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump allies have said that the subpoena request — and the fact that Trump allowed federal officials to retrieve the documents — is proof that he’s been cooperative with the Department of Justice (DOJ). They’ve also claimed that the raid on Mar-a-Lago earlier this week was an overreach.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.
Trump’s level of cooperation isn’t clear, however, and the search warrant suggests that the former president may have misled officials about the documents remaining on the premises or stopped cooperating with the investigation altogether.
Trump greeted investigators but did not personally show them around Mar-a-Lago when they came to retrieve the documents in June. His lawyers did show investigators where Trump had kept the documents, including in a private storage locker in his basement. They also turned over security footage from the building.
The investigators removed all items with “top secret” designations or higher from Mar-a-Lago that day, and told the former president he needed to secure his storage locations better.
The search on Monday came about due to evidence collected by the DOJ — including information the agency received from an unknown informant — that suggested more classified documents with national security implications remained at Mar-a-Lago. Because they weren’t removed when investigators came in June, it’s possible the department wasn’t aware that these documents were there.
The subpoena in June required Trump to turn over any classified documents, giving credence to the possibility that authorities were not yet aware of the 12 boxes taken from Trump’s residence earlier this week.
“National security docs were seized from Mar-a-Lago back in June,” Sunlight Reports’s Don Lewis noted in a tweet. “So looks like this week’s raid seized docs that were hidden in June.”
According to sources with knowledge of the DOJ’s actions, the documents that remained at the Mar-a-Lago estate after June were so sensitive in nature that the department felt compelled to act fast, prompting their raid earlier this week.