In one of the more unique moves ever made by the Department of Justice, a former President had his home raided by armed FBI agents on behalf of the National Archives, and nothing about the story has been conventional from that moment forward.
Donald Trump, who was the victim of the brazen siege at Mar-a-Lago, has denied any wrongdoing whatsoever in the case, insisting that the documents in his possession had been declassified, and, as such, the National Archives have no real right to them.
But, when it came time to verify some information with the institution, Trump and his legal team have some varying ideas, it seems.
Former president Donald Trump asked one of his lawyers to tell the National Archives and Records Administration in early 2022 that Trump had returned all materials requested by the agency, but the lawyer declined because he was not sure the statement was true, according to people familiar with the matter.
So, what exactly happened?
Alex Cannon, an attorney for Trump, had facilitated the January transfer of 15 boxes of presidential records from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives, after archives officials agitated for more than a year to get “all original presidential records” back, which they are required by law to do. Following months of stonewalling by Trump’s representatives, archives officials threatened to get the Justice Department or Congress involved.
Around the same time The Washington Post reported that the archives had retrieved documents from Mar-a-Lago, the people said, Trump asked his team to release a statement he had dictated. The statement said Trump had returned “everything” the archives had requested. Trump asked Cannon to send a similar message to archives officials, the people said. In addition, the former president told his aides that the documents in the boxes were “newspaper clippings” and not relevant to the archives, two of these people said, and complained that the agency charged with tracking government records was being persnickety about securing the materials from his Florida club.Advertisement - story continues below
But Cannon, a former Trump Organization lawyer who worked for the campaign and for Trump after the presidency, told Trump he could not tell the archives all the requested material had been returned. He told others he was not sure if other documents were still at the club and would be uncomfortable making such a claim, the people familiar with the matter said. Other Trump advisers also encouraged Cannon not to make such a definitive statement, people familiar with the matter said.
Trump has consistently suggested that the DOJ is conducting a “witch hunt” in the matter, hoping to dig up dirt that could be used to denigrate his potential candidacy in 2024.