The New York Times is reporting that 48 empty file folders marked as “Classified” or “Top Secret” were recovered from the search of Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Largo. The FBI also recovered 40 additional empty folders they said contained sensitive documents that should be returned “to staff secretary/military aide,” according to the inventory, which was ordered released by Federal judge Aileen M. Cannon.
There were apparently some actual classified documents recovered. The FBI retrieved 18 documents marked as Top Secret, 54 marked as Secret, 31 marked as Confidential, and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings.
Not a very impressive haul considering the hysteria surrounding the search.
In the government filing that accompanied the inventory list, prosecutors noted that the Justice Department’s review of the materials seized in August was only “a single investigative step” in an “active criminal investigation.”
“The investigative team will continue to use and evaluate the seized materials as it takes further investigative steps, such as through additional witness interviews and grand jury practice,” the filing said.
Of course, any breach of security is serious — just ask Hillary Clinton.
The fact that they have 48 empty file folders — no matter what they’re marked — means they have 48 folders they can’t enter into evidence to prove that Donald Trump had them in his possession. They will eventually find the contents of those folders — probably not where they’re supposed to be — but can they really prove that Trump “possessed” them?
An interesting legal question, to be sure.
By contrast, portions of the affidavit for the search warrant application, which the Justice Department made public last week, listed specific classification markings that had been found on documents in 15 boxes of government files that Mr. Trump had allowed the National Archives to remove from Mar-a-Lago in January.
Were those “specific classification markings that had been found on documents” separate from the 48 empty folders? Did the Justice Department count empty file folders as evidence?
At the hearing on Thursday, the Justice Department said that it had performed its own review and set aside more than 500 pages of records that could be protected by attorney-client privilege.
But lawyers for the department fiercely contested Mr. Trump’s request for a review of the materials based on executive privilege, which protects confidential executive branch communications from disclosure.
How very comforting to Trump that the Justice Department went ahead and did Trump’s lawyer’s work for them and reviewed the documents for anything that could be considered falling under attorney/client privilege. It’s nice when the prosecutor in a case can determine what falls under any privilege claims. Speeds the court proceedings along.
Trump isn’t in any less trouble because of the empty folders. It’s just curious to see what the FBI is citing as “evidence” on which to base their prosecution.