Holy Crap This Photo!

INSIDE: This Photo! ... This Photo! ... This Photo!
FBI photo of classified records allegedly found during its raid of Mar-a-Lago
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

A Thousand Words

A late night for Justice Department reporters awaiting the government’s filing in the one of the two cases arising from the Mar-a-Lago raid. It finally came in around 11:30 p.m. ET, and packed a bit more punch than I had expected.

In particular, it tucked a little hand grenade down deep in the filing. The final exhibit at the bottom of an attachment to the filing is a photo of documents mark classified that the FBI allegedly found, strewn across the floor at Mar-a-Lago. The Justice Department described it as “redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the ’45 office.’”

We’ll get to some of the other revelations by the Justice Department in a moment, but first …

That Photo, Yall!

Rate My Top Secret Document Room!

How It Was Played By The Bigs

Politico: “The 36-page filing was the department’s most detailed account yet of its evidence of obstruction of justice, raising concerns that Trump and his attorneys sought to mislead investigators about the sincerity and thoroughness of their effort to identify and return highly sensitive records to the government.”

NYT: “The filing on Tuesday made clear that prosecutors are now unmistakably focused on the possibility that Mr. Trump and those around him took criminal steps to obstruct their investigation.”

WaPo: “The filing traces the extraordinary saga of government officials’ repeated efforts to recover sensitive national security papers from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club, centered on a storage room where prosecutors came to suspect that ‘government records were likely concealed and removed … and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.’”

AP: “The filing offers yet another indication of the sheer volume of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal probe have focused not just on why the records were improperly stored there, but also on the question of whether the Trump team intentionally misled them about the continued, and unlawful, presence of the top secret documents.”

Legal Twitter Reacts

The Key Takeaways

The DOJ filing breaks the federal investigation into two main thrusts:

  1. Trump’s improper retention of government documents, including classified material
  2. Potential obstruction of the investigation

As to thrust 1, the government’s most compelling evidence is of course actually finding classified material at Mar-a-Lago during the FBI’s search, as demonstrated by that damning photo. But there was also the earlier retrieval of the 15 boxes of documents that included some classified material.

As to Thrust 2 (obstruction), the Justice Department told the court there was “likely” an effort to conceal classified documents at Mar-a-Lago in defiance of a grand jury subpoena:

The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.

That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter.

Trump’s Lawyers Under The Gun, Too

We finally got to see the certification by Trump’s lawyer that all of the government records responsive to the grand jury subpoena had been turned over, which of course turned out not to be true:

Here’s how the Washington Post put it:

In parts of the filing, using only their job descriptions, prosecutors paint Trump’s lawyer, Evan Corcoran, and custodian of records, Christina Bobb, as so uncooperative as to lead agents to suspect the Trump team might be obstructing the investigation.

The filing, for instance, says that when FBI agents and Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department, met with Trump’s two representatives in early June, “the former President’s counsel explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained.”

For the True Nerds

For this filing, the Justice Department took the relatively unusual step of asking the federal judge overseeing the Washington DC grand jury investigating the matter to allow the release of some grand jury information from the probe:

Too Late, Bub

The Justice Department chided the Trump legal team for being too slow to move for a special master. But the time Trump filed his request, the DOJ filter team had already weeded out the materials from the raid that investigators were not supposed to see, and investigators had reviewed all of the remaining documents from the search. As DOJ put it:

The need for promptness when a party seeks appointment of a special master is obvious: the government may begin reviewing materials as soon as they are seized, and a delay of even two weeks may well mean—as it does here—that the government has reviewed all of the seized materials by the time relief is sought.


The RNC is declining to pay for Trump’s legal fees incurred from the Mar-a-Lago raid.

It Was a Late Night For Journo Cats

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