On Unsealed FBI Inventory List: 90 Empty Folders at Mar-a-Lago

48 of them were marked 'classified'; it's not clear where the contents are, or when they vanished
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2022 1:27 PM CDT
On Unsealed FBI Inventory List: 90 Empty Folders at Mar-a-Lago
A page from a FBI property list of items seized from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and made public by the Department of Justice is shown Friday.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

As more details continue to emerge in the wake of the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago last month, a federal judge gave the green light Thursday to unseal a more detailed list of inventory recovered from former President Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Fla. Among the revelations this newly public list reveals is that Trump kept classified US government documents (including those marked with "confidential," "secret," and "top secret" banners) jumbled together with more banal, unclassified items such as magazine and newspaper clippings, books, and objects marked "articles of clothing/gift items." The items were all recovered by the FBI on Aug. 8 from Trump's Mar-a-Lago office, or from 26 boxes kept in a storage room at the estate, per the Washington Post.

Especially notable on the 11-page list, however, was the itemization of a whole lot of empty folders: 71 taken from Trump's office—including 43 marked as "classified," and 28 labeled "return to staff secretary/[military] aide"—as well as 19 more empties from the storage room (five of them classified), for a total of 90 empty folders, per the Guardian. What's not clear is if the folders were already empty when Trump transported them from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, or if their contents were removed by him, or someone else, after they'd arrived in Florida. The AP notes that the more comprehensive inventory list, which still keeps mum on what most of the items actually were, reveals for the first time the sheer volume of government documents Trump had in his possession.

Thanks to 1978's Presidential Records Act, all of those documents, even the unclassified ones, were supposed to be handed over to the National Archives when Trump left the White House. An intro to the inventory list asserts the DOJ "has already examined every item seized (other than materials that remain subject to the filter protocols)" and that it had separated out all of the ones marked classified and securely stored them, per protocol. Also, all evidence related to those seized materials, "including, but not limited to, the nature and manner in which they were stored," will remain relevant to the government's probe, which it called an "active criminal investigation." The intro then notes that investigators "will be continually mindful of the potential for attorney-client issues." Trump's attorneys didn't immediately respond to an AP email asking for comment on Friday. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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