WORLD

Feds removed documents from Mar-a-Lago in June with grand jury subpoena

Aug 11, 2022, 12:19 PM | Updated: 12:23 pm
Mar-a-Lago is pictured, where documents were taken....
The FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, pictured on August 9, in Palm Beach, FL was prompted by a tip to investigators about the possibility of additional classified documents at the Palm Beach club, according to a Wall Street Journal report. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(CNN) — The FBI search at Mar-a-Lago this week came months after federal investigators served an earlier grand jury subpoena and took away sensitive national security documents from former President Donald Trump’s property during a June meeting, people familiar with the matter tell CNN.

Investigators executed Monday’s search in part because they had developed evidence, including from at least one witness, that there were potentially classified documents still remaining at the Palm Beach, Florida, property months after the National Archives arranged for the retrieval of 15 boxes of documents that included classified information in January of this year, a person briefed on the matter said.

Authorities also believed the documents remaining at Mar-a-Lago had national security implications, CNN reported earlier this week.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is set to address the nation. We do not know if his address is related to last week’s search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago. 

The subpoena issued before the June meeting, during which investigators were shown where documents were held in a basement room at the Trump residence and private club, shows how the investigation has escalated and suggests the discussions had become confrontational long before Monday’s search.

The criminal investigation started with concerns about missing documents raised by the National Archives, which made a criminal referral to the Justice Department. That led to FBI interviews with aides to grand jury subpoenas to this week’s court-authorized search and seizure of documents.

Trump and his lawyers have sought to present their interactions with Justice Department prosecutors as cooperative, and that the search came as a shock. The subpoena was first reported by Just the News.

Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was prompted by a tip to investigators about the possibility of additional classified documents.

In response to questions about the grand jury subpoena, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a statement to CNN: “Monday’s unprecedented and absolutely unnecessary raid of President Trump’s home was only the latest and most egregious action of hostility by the Biden Administration, whose Justice Department has been weaponized to harass President Trump, his supporters and his staff.”

Earlier this spring, federal investigators began interviewing members of Trump’s staff at Mar-a-Lago and former White House officials who were involved in moving documents from the West Wing to his Palm Beach residence at the end of his presidency, according to three people familiar with those interviews.

In addition to the grand jury subpoena for documents, CNN previously reported that federal investigators separately served a subpoena for surveillance video at Mar-a-Lago, seeking to gather information about who had access to areas where documents were stored, according to people briefed on the matter. The subpoena served to the Trump Organization, the former President’s company that operates the Palm Beach property, came after the June meeting.

CNN previously reported that federal investigators visited Mar-a-Lago in June to discuss White House records they believed were still being held at the Palm Beach property with the former President and his attorneys.

Trump was present at the beginning of the meeting to greet investigators but did not stay to answer questions. During the meeting, Trump’s attorneys showed the investigators documents — some of them had markings indicating they were classified. The agents were given custody of the documents that were marked top secret or higher, according to a person familiar with the matter.

This story and headline have been updated to reflect additional developments.

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Feds removed documents from Mar-a-Lago in June with grand jury subpoena