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Prosecutors say more Trump secret papers may be missing

Politics

Former US president Donald Trump’s team may not have returned all the classified records removed from the White House at the end of his presidency even after an FBI search of his home.

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That revelation came in a Justice Department court filing asking US District Judge Aileen Cannon to let it continue reviewing about 100 classified records seized by the FBI at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate while it investigates whether classified documents were illegally removed from the White House and improperly stored there.

Trump is under investigation for retaining government records, some of which were marked as highly classified, at the resort in Palm Beach, Florida, his home after leaving office in January 2021.

The 100 documents represent a fraction of the more than 11,000 records and photographs seized, most of which the government said Trump might review because they are not classified.

“This motion is limited to … the seized classified records because those aspects of the order will cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public,” the department says in its court filing.

The prosecutors also ask the judge not to allow an independent arbiter, called a “special master”, to review classified materials seized from Trump’s property.

Trump, in a posting on his Truth Social platform, described the request as a waste of money.

The Justice Department suggests there could be more classified records that were removed from the Trump White House that investigators have not yet found.

This revelation comes about a week after the Justice Department released a list of property seized from Trump’s home that showed the FBI found 48 empty folders labelled as classified and another 42 that indicated they should be returned to a staff secretary or military aide.

“The injunction against using classified records in the criminal investigation could impede efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being properly stored, which itself presents the potential for ongoing risk to national security,” prosecutors say in their filing.

Prosecutors asked Cannon for a ruling by September 15. If she denies their request, they intend to file an appeal to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, where six of the 11 active judges are Trump appointees.

In an order on Thursday evening, Cannon gave Trump’s lawyer’s until Monday morning to respond to the government’s request.

Cannon, also a Trump appointee, on Monday ordered prosecutors to pause reviewing the more than 11,000 recovered records while a special master is appointed to review the material.

The Justice Department is also investigating possible obstruction of justice after it uncovered evidence showing that records may have been removed or concealed from the FBI when it sent agents to Trump’s home in June.

Cannon granted Trump’s request for a special master despite prosecutors’ objections in a ruling criticised by Democratic and Republican legal experts.

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