Trump had empty classified folders among loose secret papers, unsealed Mar-a-Lago raid inventory reveals

The unsealed inventory shows how FBI agents found the empty folders mixed in with loose classified documents, gifts, clothes and old newspapers during a search of Trump’s Florida home

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 02 September 2022 17:42 BST
Trump claims he would protect classified information during 2016 campaign rally
Leer en Español

FBI agents found 90 empty folders that had once held extremely sensitive documents among the 27 boxes removed from former president Donald Trump’s home during a court-authorised search on 8 August, according to an unsealed copy of a detailed inventory filed with a federal judge.

The 27 boxes were found to contain at least 11,000 documents which are by law the property of the United States government and were supposed to be returned to the National Archives at the close of his term.

Agents also seized more than 100 “unique documents with classification markings”, including three stored in Mr Trump’s desk. Classification levels ranged from confidential – the lowest level of classification in the US system – to the highest, top secret.

But Mr Trump’s hoard of stolen government property also included folders with markings indicating that they had contained classified or sensitive documents that were meant to be returned to the White House staff secretary, a key White House aide who manages the flow of paper to and from the president’s desk.

Of the 90 empty folders recovered by agents, 47 of them had these markings, while the remainder were meant to be returned to the staff secretary’s office.

In one box seized from Mr Trump’s office, agents found 24 documents bearing classification markings, but 43 empty folders marked with “Classified” banners.

The fact that the number of documents marked as classified did not correspond with the number of classified folders found in the box raises the troubling possibility that Mr Trump may have lost, or turned over to others, documents that were once contained in the folders.

Larry Pfeiffer, who was once chief of staff to former NSA director General Michael Hayden, told The Independent that the discovery of empty folders meant to contain classified documents among Mr Trump’s property was “on it’s immediate face disturbing”.

Mr Pfeiffer said the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would have to comb through the entirety of what has been seized or returned from Mar-a-Lago in order to determine whether the number of folders for classified and sensitive documents matches the number of documents that belong in such folders.

But he warned that a full accounting may not be possible, even with a detailed review of the documents now in the government’s possession.

“It may ultimately be that we may never know, which will be even more disturbing,” he said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in