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Trump lawyer claimed boxes of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago only held 'news clippings:' WaPo

Sep 17, 2022, 03:43 IST
Business Insider
Former Trump White House Deputy Counsel Pat Philbin departs following his testimony before a grand jury investigating events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., September 2, 2022.REUTERS/Leah Millis
  • A lawyer for former President Trump claimed boxes at Mar-a-Lago only held "news clippings."
  • The lawyer told the National Archives in 2021 that the boxes did not hold classified information.

A lawyer for former President Donald Trump falsely told the National Archives that 12 boxes containing classified documents at Mar-a-Lago only contained "news clippings," The Washington Post reported Friday.

In a September 2021 call, Pat Philbin, a lawyer for Trump and former White House deputy counsel, told the federal agency that no classified documents were contained in the boxes.

According to The Post, citing "sources familiar with the conversations," Philbin based that assertion on representations made to him by Mark Meadows, the former president's ex-chief of staff. Both men and their representatives declined to comment.

"Trump's team was aware of no other materials," the lawyer said, according to The Post.

In February 2022, the National Archives would ask the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Trump's mishandling of classified information, noting that boxes it had already recovered had indeed contained sensitive documents. Last month, a federal raid of the former president's Florida resort led to the recovery of more than 100 classified documents, including some marked "TOP SECRET," according to an FBI inventory.


The Post has separately reported that the documents included information on a foreign government's nuclear weapons capability.

After his team denied that any classified records were being held at Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump has suggested that he had unilaterally declassified all documents in his possession, though legal experts note that would not absolve him of mishandling national security information. To date, Trump has made no attempt to publicly reveal any information about the ostensibly declassified documents.

Trump also initially suggested, without evidence, that any documents recovered in the August raid could have been planted by the FBI. He has since implicitly acknowledged storing classified documents in his Mar-a-Lago office.

Earlier this week, US Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, selected at the former president's request a former federal judge to serve as a "special master" to review documents seized by the Department of Justice and assess whether any are subject to attorney-client privilege or claims of executive privilege.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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