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Why a June meeting at Mar-a-Lago over missing docs matters

In June, a lawyer from Team Trump agreed in writing that classified materials had been returned from Mar-a-Lago. It now appears that wasn't true.


In a written statement last week, Donald Trump claimed that the FBI executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago came “out of nowhere.” It was among the more outlandish lies the former president has told about this ordeal, which unfolded slowly and incrementally over the course of several months.

In fact, The New York Times reported over the weekend on an important meeting that was held in June at the Republican’s home/business.

At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said. The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.

Oh my.

Just to briefly recap, Trump, who spent much of his presidency repeatedly mishandling classified information, allegedly took classified materials with him when he left the White House and brought them to his glorified country club. The former president and his team were asked to return the documents. They instead returned some of the documents in January 2022 — in the words of one of the Republican’s advisers, Trump was willing to part with “what he believed they were entitled to.”

This led to a subpoena in the spring. In early June, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division went to Mar-a-Lago in the hopes of resolving the matter, and he and some investigators reportedly departed with some additional documents.

After the meeting, a Trump lawyer agreed — in writing — that all of the classified materials had been returned.

That apparently wasn’t true, which raises questions about why Team Trump might’ve lied, and raises related questions about whether the alleged deception was illegal.

Indeed, let’s not forget that when the search warrant was released to the public on Friday, it noted that federal law enforcement was looking for “any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.”

The reference to “concealment” is taking on greater significance.

Making matters even more provocative, the Times’ report, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, added: “The Justice Department also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago recorded over a 60-day period, including views from outside the storage room. According to a person briefed on the matter, the footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room.”

I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of this one.