Trump Received Subpoena Ahead of F.B.I. Search

Former President Donald J. Trump received a subpoena this spring seeking documents federal investigators believe he failed to turn in earlier in the year, when he returned boxes of documents that he had improperly brought with him when he moved out of the White House, three people familiar with the matter said.

The existence of the subpoena helps establish the chain of events that led to a search of Mr Trump’s home in Florida on Monday by FBI agents looking for classified documents they believe may still be there, even both after the efforts of the National Archives and the Department of Justice. to make sure it was returned.

The subpoena suggests that the Justice Department tried non-search warrant methods before taking the politically explosive step of sending unannounced FBI agents to Mar-a-Lago. , Mr. Trump’s home and a members-only club.

The two presented briefs on classified documents that investigators believe remain at Mar-a-Lago that indicate that they were of a sensitive nature and involved national security, so much so that the Justice Department must hand out.

The subpoena is First reveal by John Solomon, a conservative journalist who has also been appointed by Mr. Trump as one of his representatives at the National Archives.

The existence of the subpoenas being used by Mr. Trump’s allies to charge the former president and his team is cooperating with the Justice Department in identifying and returning the documents in question and that The search was groundless.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Christina Bobb, an attorney who works for Mr. Trump, did not respond to messages. It is unclear exactly what documents the subpoena seeks or what documents the former president may have provided in response.

The subpoena was a visit Jay Bratt, the top counterintelligence official for the Justice Department, made with a small group of other federal officials to Mar-a-Lago early, one resident said. June a few weeks later.

Officials met with Mr. Trump’s attorney, Evan Corcoran. Mr. Trump, who enjoys playing the show host and has a long history of trying to get officials to ask about his activities, also appeared. During the visit, officials examined a basement storage area where the former president kept documents he brought from the White House.

A few days after the visit, Mr. Bratt emailed Mr. Corcoran and asked him to further secure the remaining documents, which are kept in a more secure padlock storage area, one resident said. know. Email is previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.

They then subpoenaed surveillance footage from the club, which could give officials a glimpse of who’s going in and out of the storage area, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. . This person said they have received special footage from areas of the club where they believe the documents may have been stored.

During that same period, investigators came into contact with several of Trump’s aides who had some information about how he stored and moved documents around the White House and who still worked for him. he, three people familiar with the events said.

Among the people investigators contacted were Molly Michael, Trump’s aide in the Outer Oval Office who also worked for him at Mar-a-Lago, three people familiar with the approach to know.

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Investigators have also contacted Derek Lyons, a former White House staff secretary whose last date is December 18, 2020 and no longer works for Mr. Trump, with questions about the process. documents, according to a person familiar. approach.

Federal officials believe Trump did not give up all the documents that left the White House at the end of his term, according to three people familiar with the investigation.

Less than two months later, about two dozen FBI agents, deliberately not wearing the agency’s logo-printed blue windscreens often worn during raids, showed up at Mar-a-Lago with a warrant. Wanted.

The club has been closed; Mr. Trump was in the New York area; The FBI startled a crew repairing a large fountain, a maid dusting, and several Secret Service agents guarding the complex.

The search warrant is very extensive, allowing agents to investigate all areas of the club where classified documents may have been stored. They passed through the basement, Mr. Trump’s office and at least part of his residence at the club.

After hours of searching, they left with a number of boxes that weren’t full to the brim and in some cases simply envelopes that sealed the material the agents had taken and were empty, said a person familiar with the matter. search said.

The person said that the FBI left a two-page manifest about what was done.

Mr. Trump’s team declined to disclose the contents of the search warrant. Several organizations, including The New York Times, are asking a federal court to unsealing.

Several senior Republicans have been warned by Trump’s allies not to continue to aggressively criticize the Justice Department and the FBI on the matter because of potentially more damaging information regarding the case. The search will be made public.

When Mr. Trump left the White House after refusing to admit that he had lost the 2020 election and frantically sought to take power, several crates of documents were shipped from the West Wing to Florida.

In the boxes was a pile of papers, along with items like raincoats and golf balls, according to people briefed on the contents. The National Archives has been trying for months after Mr. Trump left office to get the documents back, engaging in lengthy discussions with his representatives to get what should have been saved. properly stored in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.

When the archivists restore 15 boxes This year, they discovered several pages of classified documents and referred the matter to the Department of Justice. But officials later believed that additional classified material remained at Mar-a-Lago.

Some of Trump’s advisers have insisted that they have gone to great lengths to cooperate with federal officials and have kept an open line of communication.

But others familiar with federal officials’ efforts to recover the documents have said Mr Trump is against returning government property, despite being told he needs to.

Several of Mr. Trump’s unofficial advisers outside of his immediate staff have assured him that he can claim the documents are personal and keep them.

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