It has been revealed that the Monday FBI raid at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was based on the belief that Trump and his team have not returned all documents that are deemed government property under the Presidential Records Act.
According to the Washington Post, federal authorities had reportedly grown increasingly concerned in the months leading up to the raid, following the returning of materials to the National Archives around seven months ago, that Trump and his team may have held onto key records.
In the spring, officials from the Justice Department and the FBI traveled to Mar-a-Lago to speak with Trump’s representatives, to inspect where the documents were held, and to express concerns over their belief that Trump or those close to him still had documents that should be in government custody, people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post.
It was at this point that officials with the National Archives had reportedly been aggressively contacting those close to Trump to demand that documents covered by the Presidential Records Act be returned.
Trump lawyer Christina Bobb said that Trump’s lawyers had engaged in discussions with the Justice Department that spring over documents held at the palm Beach residence.
The former president’s team had searched through two to three dozen boxes of materials held in a storage area, and returned several items that could be considered presidential records.
According to the Washington Post, the Presidential Records act requires the preservation of written communications like memos, letters, and emails related to a president’s official duties.
Bobb said that she and fellow Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran met with jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department in June along with several investigators.
The pair showed the federal officials the boxes, which Bratt and his team spent time looking through.
Bobb said that the Justice Department officials had said that the storage unit where the documents were held was not properly secured, so Trump officials added a lock.
In the Monday raid, the FBI reportedly removed around a dozen boxes that had been stored in a basement storage area, Bobb said, who indicated that the agents were investigating possible violations of the Presidential Records Act.
One person familiar with the matter told the Washington Post that the search was part of a long-running examination as to why these documents were taken to the former president’s Florida residence instead of being sent to the National Archives and Records Administration.
When 15 boxes were received by the archive in January, then-archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said that Trump representatives were "continuing to search" for additional records.
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