The U.S. Justice Department said late Tuesday it had evidence of likely efforts to obstruct the government’s investigation of classified documents being held at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate.
A court filing cited a June declaration by a Trump representative saying all classified documents had been returned to the government, as well as statements by a Trump lawyer that all remaining White House documents were being held in a single storage room.
The Department of Justice said the lawyer forbade government personnel from looking inside boxes in the storeroom to confirm there were no other classified documents there.
Two months later, the FBI executed a search warrant at the site, seizing 33 boxes that contained more than 100 classified records, including some with the highest levels of classification.
The Justice Department said agents found some of the classified documents in a drawer in Trump’s office at the estate during that early August search.
Under U.S. law, presidential records belong to the government and must be turned over to the National Archives at the end of a leader’s term. Trump left office in January 2021.
Trump criticized the August search as unprecedented and unnecessary, saying he was cooperating with federal agencies. His lawyers have asked a federal judge to appoint a special master to review whether the documents seized include any privileged information.
The Justice Department said in its Tuesday filing that Trump was given plenty of time to comply with requests that he return the government records, and that a special team in the department had already completed the work of filtering out any privileged material.
A judge is set to consider Trump’s request further at a Thursday hearing.