Timeline: Justice Department criminal inquiry into Trump taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago

The federal criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s possible misuse of classified documents intensified in a significant and unprecedented way this week when the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The Justice Department investigation concerns documents Trump removed from the White House when his term ended in January 2021. Earlier this year, officials from the National Archives and Records Administration, known as NARA, seized 15 boxes of presidential documents from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s lawyers previously worked with NARA to voluntarily release some documents, but the Mar-a-Lago search clearly points to a new phase in the investigation. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed the probe is a politically motivated sham aimed at derailing his potential bid for a return to the White House.

SEE ALSO: Trump Search: What May Come Next In Investigation With Legal Jeopardy

Here’s a timeline of key moments from the Blockbuster investigation.

May 2021

A NARA official contacts Trump’s team after discovering several important documents were not turned over before Trump left the White House. In hopes of locating the missing items, NARA attorney Gary Stern reaches out to someone who served in the White House Attorney’s office under Trump and was the record-keeping contact. The missing documents include some of Trump’s correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as the map of Hurricane Dorian, which Trump infamously altered with a sharpie.

Fall 2021

NARA is increasingly frustrated by the slow pace of document turnover after several months of discussions with the Trump team. Stern turns to another Trump attorney to intervene. The archivist asks about several boxes of files that appear to have been brought to Mar-a-Lago during Trump’s move to Florida. NARA still hasn’t received the White House documents they’re looking for.

January 2022

After months of discussions with Trump’s team, NARA retrieves 15 boxes containing Trump’s White House records from Mar-a-Lago. The boxes contained some materials that were part of “special access programs” known as SAP, a classification that includes protocols to severely restrict access to the information. NARA says in a statement some of the records it received at the end of Trump’s term were “ripped up by former President Trump” and White House officials had to tape them back together. Not all the torn documents have been reconstructed, says NARA.

SEE ALSO: FBI Affidavit Released Publicly Shows Concern Over Documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Mansion

February 9, 2022

News outlets, including CNN, are reporting that NARA has asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of White House records and determine whether he violated the Presidential Records Act and other classified information laws. The Presidential Records Act requires that all records created by an incumbent President be turned over to the National Archives at the end of their administration.

February 18, 2022

NARA informs the Justice Department that some of the documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago contained classified material. NARA also tells the department that Trump, despite being warned it was illegal, tore up documents during his presidency and that senior officials in the Trump administration are not properly keeping their social media messages, drafted tweets and deleted tweets to have.

April and May 2022

On April 7, NARA publicly acknowledged the Justice Department’s involvement for the first time, and news outlets report that prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s misuse of classified documents. Around this time, FBI agents are quietly questioning Trump advisers in Mar-a-Lago about the handling of the president’s records as part of their expanding investigation.

April 11, 2022

The FBI is asking NARA for access to the 15 boxes it recovered from Mar-a-Lago in January. The request was officially submitted to NARA by President Joe Biden’s office of White House Counsel, as the incumbent president controls presidential documents held in NARA custody.

April 29, 2022

The Justice Department is sending a letter to Trump’s attorneys as part of its efforts to gain access to the 15 boxes, telling them that more than 100 classified documents totaling more than 700 pages were found inside the boxes. The letter said the FBI and US intelligence agencies needed “immediate access” to these materials because of “vital national security interests.” Also today, Trump attorneys are asking NARA to delay plans to give the FBI access to these materials. Trump’s attorneys say they need time to review the materials to determine if anything is privileged and they make a “protective claim of executive privilege” on all documents.

May 1, 2022

Trump’s attorneys are writing to NARA again, asking that NARA postpone plans to allow FBI access to materials found at Mar-a-Lago in January.

May 10, 2022

Debra Steidel Wall, the acting United States archivist who heads NARA, informs Trump’s attorneys that she rejects her claims for “protective” executive privilege over any materials extracted from Mar-a-Lago and the materials will therefore be turned over to the FBI and the US secret services. In a four-page letter, Wall says she made the decision after consulting with top attorneys at the Justice Department and the White House Office.

May 11, 2022

The Justice Department is subpoenaing Trump and looking for documents with classification marks still in Mar-a-Lago. Trump is directing his staff to search for remaining classified material in order to comply with the subpoena, according to a lawsuit he later filed.

MORE: FBI finds 11 sets of classified documents in raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate

May 12, 2022

News outlets report that investigators have subpoenaed NARA to gain access to classified documents found from Mar-a-Lago. The subpoena, part of the process that allows investigators to take possession of NARA’s documents, is the first public indication that the Justice Department is using a grand jury in its investigation.

June 2, 2022

According to a lawsuit later filed by the former president, Trump invited FBI officials to come to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the subpoenaed materials.

June 3, 2022

Four investigators, including a senior Justice Department counterintelligence official, visit Mar-a-Lago for more information on classified material brought to Florida. The four investigators meet with Trump’s lawyers and look around the basement room where the documents are kept. Trump stops by the meeting to greet the officials but does not answer any questions. During the meeting, federal officials will deal with the grand jury subpoena for some of the sensitive national security documents on the premises and take the subpoenaed documents with them. Sometime later in June, a Trump attorney sent a letter to the Justice Department falsely claiming that there were no more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

June 8, 2022

Trump’s attorneys receive a letter from federal investigators urging them to continue securing the room where documents are kept. In response, Trump aides add a padlock to the room in Mar-a-Lago’s basement.

June 22, 2022

Federal investigators are serving a subpoena on the Trump Organization, demanding surveillance video of Mar-a-Lago. Trump’s company complies with the subpoena and hands over the footage. CNN has reported that this was part of an effort to gather information on who had access to areas at the club where government documents were kept.

August 8, 2022

The FBI executes a search warrant in Mar-a-Lago in a major escalation of the investigation into classified documents. The search focused on the area of ​​the club that houses Trump’s offices and personal quarters. Federal agents remove boxes of materials from the property. The search marked the first time in American history that a former president’s home was searched as part of a criminal investigation.

August 11, 2022

Trump, through one of his attorneys, sends a message to Attorney General Merrick Garland saying he has “heard from people across the country about the raid” who are “angry” and that “anything I can do to help the… Reduce heat, reduce pressure, just let us know,” reads a lawsuit he later filed. Hours later, after three days of silence, Garland made a brief public statement about the investigation. He reveals that he personally consented to the decision to seek a search warrant and that the Justice Department will continue to enforce the law “without fear or favor. Garland also objects to what he calls “unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and the… Department of Justice.” Garland also announces that the Justice Department will ask a judge to unseal some of the search warrant documents for the sake of transparency.

August 12, 2022

Federal Judge Bruce Reinhart authorizes the unsealing of Mar-a-Lago’s search warrant and his property receipt at the request of the Justice Department and after Trump’s attorneys approved their release. The warrant shows the Justice Department’s investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records.

The CNN Wire & 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery company. All rights reserved.

https://6abc.com/donald-trump-maralago-fbi-search-classified-documents/12175658/ Timeline: Justice Department criminal inquiry into Trump taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago

Alley Einstein

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