Former President Donald Trump pushed back on reports that the FBI recovered 11 sets of classified information from his Mar-a-Lago home earlier this week, claiming he had “declassified” everything before leaving office.
“Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything,” Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform Truth Social. “They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”
The former president’s response came after it was revealed that FBI agents recovered 11 sets of classified information, with some marked as top secret, during its Monday raid. FBI agents who conducted the search recovered 20 boxes of classified documents, including handwritten notes, binders full of photos, and the executive grant of clemency given to Trump ally Roger Stone, according to a review of the inventory by the Wall Street Journal.
Trump has questioned the legality of the search over the last several days, claiming there were no witnesses to observe the FBI’s behavior and that the agency instructed people at the Florida resort, including his lawyers, to steer clear of the premises as agents conducted the search. The former president even pointed to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, to argue the FBI executed the search for political purposes.
“What happened to the 30 million pages of documents taken from the White House to Chicago by Barack Hussein Obama? He refused to give them back!” Trump wrote in a Thursday post. “What is going on? This act was strongly at odds with NARA. Will they be breaking into Obama’s ‘mansion’ in Martha’s Vineyard?”
However, the National Archives and Records Administration responded to those claims on Friday, noting it had “exclusive legal and physical custody” of the former president’s records after he left office in 2017. Obama had about 30 million pages of unclassified documents processed through the agency, and those are maintained “exclusively by NARA,” it said in a statement.
“As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration,” the agency said.
At least one set of the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago was marked as “classified/TS/SCI,” meaning “top secret/sensitive compartmentalized information,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Additionally, agents recovered four sets of top-secret documents, three sets marked as secret, and three other sets marked as confidential.
The details of the search warrant itself have not been disclosed, making it unclear what kind of information agents thought was taken from the White House and being held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. However, the unprecedented search has prompted experts to believe there were deep concerns that the sensitive information could fall into the wrong hands, according to NewsNation.
Trump’s lawyers have argued the former president used his authority to declassify the information he took with him when he left office. Although a president has the power to do so, it’s not clear if Trump went through the federal process to declassify the documents taken from his Mar-a-Lago home.
Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the raid for the first time on Thursday, declining to disclose the details of the search but confirming he had personally authorized it.
Just moments before Garland addressed the nation, the Department of Justice filed a motion to unseal the search warrant, with the motion arguing there was a “clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances.”
“That said, the former President should have an opportunity to respond to this Motion and lodge objections, including with regards to any ‘legitimate privacy interests’ or the potential for other ‘injury’ if these materials are made public,” the filing read.
Trump said he would not oppose the release of the documents that were the subject of the FBI’s raid, calling the search an “unprecedented political weaponization of law enforcement” in a statement on Thursday.