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Trump lawyer claimed no classified material was at Mar-a-Lago in signed letter to Justice Department


CNN

By Evan Perez, Kaitlan Collins and Sara Murray, CNN

One of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys signed a letter in June asserting that there was no more classified information stored at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The letter signed by the attorney raises fresh questions about the number of people who may have legal exposure in the ongoing investigation into the handling of classified materials from Trump’s time in the White House.

The probe reached dramatic heights earlier this week when the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, with agents removing 11 sets of classified documents, some of which were marked as “top secret/SCI” — one of the highest levels of classification.

That inventory list contradicts the attorney’s letter. The removal of that classified information after the letter was sent could explain why prosecutors cited an obstruction law in their search warrant request.

The sources did not identify when the letter was signed or by whom. It was part of an ongoing correspondence with the Department of Justice over the issue.

The New York Times first reported the existence of the letter.

CNN previously reported that following a June meeting at Mar-a-Lago, where Justice officials left with classified information, investigators developed evidence, including from a witness, that led investigators to believe there still was more classified information in documents stored at the complex.

Court documents unsealed and released on Friday identify three federal crimes that the DOJ is looking at as part of its investigation: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records. The inclusion of the crimes indicated the department had probable cause to investigate those offenses as it was gathering evidence in the search. No one has been charged with a crime.

The June meeting included Trump lawyers Evan Corcoran, Christina Bobb and federal investigators, including Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department, CNN has previously reported.

A separate source maintains that Trump representatives told investigators in the June meeting that Trump had declassified all the documents.

Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich said in a statement to CNN: “Just like every Democrat-fabricated witch hunt previously, the water of this unprecedented and unnecessary raid is being carried by a media willing to run with suggestive leaks, anonymous sources, and no hard facts.”

The National Archives, charged with collecting and sorting presidential material, has previously said at least 15 boxes of White House records were recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort — including some that were classified.

The warrant released Friday capped an unprecedented week that began with the search of the former President’s home — an evidence-gathering step in a national security investigation.

The FBI search at the resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday was followed by days of silence from the Justice Department, as is the department’s normal practice for ongoing investigations.

Then on Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the department had moved to unseal the search warrant and two attachments, including an inventory list, but also stressed that some of the department’s work must happen outside of public view.

“We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations,” Garland said, while explaining that he would not provide more detail about the basis of the search.

Trump’s legal team had agreed to release the historic search warrant earlier Friday, the Justice Department told a federal court.

This story has been updated with additional background.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.

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