Donald Trump’s attorney team has carried out a search of two of his properties, seemingly determined to do due diligence before assuring a Federal judge that, to the best of their knowledge, all documents the former president removed from the White House have been returned, or are, at least, no longer in his possession.
The National Archives’ efforts to retrieve documents that they say belong to the U.S. government has become a dramatic saga, with the FBI finally forced to execute a search warrant on the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home.
Even then, Trump dragged the case through courts, insisting on a special master to review documents he claimed were protected under privilege — an order that, despite being later overturned, stretched the proceedings out as the government was required to battle for access to the evidence in the case.
Along the way, at least one attorney reportedly signed a statement assuring that all classified material in Trump’s possession had been returned to the Federal government.
Unfortunately, this assurance was before the FBI search that uncovered boxes of documents in a storage room, as well as additional documents and folders with ‘classified’ markings in Trump’s office.
Other attorneys on Trump’s team seem to have a better sense of self-preservation, and hired an outside team to carry out a search of two more of Trump’s properties, Trump Tower in New York and Trump Bedminster in New Jersey, before assuring a federal judge that they believe there are no longer any documents belonging to the U.S. government stored at any of the former president’s properties.
The Washington Post reports:
Trump’s legal team hired an outside firm to carry out the search of his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and, more recently, Trump Tower in New York, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. The team also offered the FBI the opportunity to observe the search, but the offer was declined, the people said.
It’s not the first time that Trump’s legal team has made the decision to exercise caution in the stolen documents case.
Alex Cannon, an attorney who has worked for both the Trump Organization and Trump’s presidential campaign, refused Trump’s pressure to sign a statement in February assuring the government all documents had been returned, The Hill reported.
He had been assisting in the process of returning boxes of documents, but was not confident that the 15 boxes of material Trump willingly returned in January were the sum total removed from the White House.
As the FBI search proved, that was a prudent decision.
As for the independent search of Trump’s New York and New Jersey properties, there were reportedly no government documents found in either location.