August 31, 2022 / by emptywheel


Trump Stored Some of the Nation’s Most Sensitive Secrets with His Framed Time Magazine Cover

I wrote an initial thread of my read of the filing in the Trump document theft here.

It details how the investigation evolved, from 18 USC 2071 for the torn documents and 18 USC 793 for the stolen classified documents to add 18 USC 1519 after it was clear Trump and his team were willfully withholding stuff.

It describes the three sets of inventories of documents seized, roughly as follows (the filing didn’t break down the documents seized on August 8 by classification type):

I’m interested in where the FBI found certain things on August 8. As the filing notes, 13 boxes (not 11, as suggested by the warrant receipt) contained classified information, with over 100 marked classified documents identified.

The investigative team has reviewed all the materials in the containers that the privilege review team did not segregate as potentially attorney-client privileged. Of the Seized Evidence, thirteen boxes or containers contained documents with classification markings, and in all, over one hundred unique documents with classification markings—that is, more than twice the amount produced on June 3, 2022, in response to the grand jury subpoena—were seized. Certain of the documents had colored cover sheets indicating their classification status. See, e.g., Attachment F (redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the “45 office”). The classification levels ranged from CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET information, and certain documents included additional sensitive compartments that signify very limited distribution. In some instances, even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.

Documents with classified markings were found in two places: the storage room and Trump’s office.

Notwithstanding counsel’s representation on June 3, 2022, that materials from the White House were only located in the Storage Room, classified documents were found in both the Storage Room and in the former President’s office.

76 documents were in the storage room, leaving at least 25 in his office. Three of those were found in desk drawers, at least some of them with his passports.

Three classified documents that were not located in boxes, but rather were located in the desks in the “45 Office,” were also seized.


Consistent with Attachment B to the search warrant, the government seized the contents of a desk drawer that contained classified documents and governmental records commingled with other documents. The other documents included two official passports, one of which was expired, and one personal passport, which was expired. The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information; nonetheless, the government decided to return those passports in its discretion.

That leaves at least 22 documents.

The photo included as an exhibit of the filing, is described as a “redacted FBI photograph of certain documents and classified cover sheets recovered from a container in the ’45 office’,” which must be the leatherbound box described in the search warrant returns.

That shows that Trump was keeping some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets next to a framed Time Magazine cover.

And they were probably all in a standard hotel safe.

Update: This photo has been widely misunderstood. It is part of the FBI’s inventorying process. Effectively, the agents found the leatherbound box, emptied it out, and took pictures of everything in there. The 2A shows that these are the contents of that box. See this post for more about how the FBI documents their searches.

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