A person familiar with the case, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said investigators have questioned some former Trump White House aides about the boxes and on how they had been prepared; another person said investigators continue to request interviews from those involved. The subpoena has been issued to the National Archives and Records Administration, said a third person familiar with the matter.
The mishandling of classified documents is a federal crime, although substantiating charges in such cases can be difficult. The FBI often investigates to determine who may have seen sensitive government information and prevent it from spreading further.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said the former president “consistently processes all documents in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Belated attempts to guess this clear fact are politically motivated and flawed.”
The status of the main investigations involving Donald Trump
The boxes of documents at issue were recovered from Mar-a-Lago this year after being improperly removed from the White House. David S. Ferriero, who retired last month as Archivist of the United States, recalled in a recent interview that the White House Records Management Office told him about a group of boxes. in the White House residence who were supposed to go to the Archives, but they hadn’t shown up as expected.
“I remember seeing the Trumps leaving the White House and coming down in a helicopter that day, and someone wearing a white banker’s box, and saying to me, ‘What’s in this box? a whole process” of the Archives trying to figure out what documents they might be missing.
As Archivist America retires, January 6, 2020 is shaping up to be his worst day
After National Archives officials went through the recovered materials and discovered that among them were documents marked classified, including at the “top secret” level, they asked the Justice Department to investigate, people close to them said. folder.
The subpoena to the National Archives and interviews with people who may be aware of the manipulation of the documents – steps that were first reported by The New York Times – are not in themselves an indication that anyone will be charged with a crime.
When classified government information leaks around the world, it is common for the FBI to retrieve it and interview those involved in its processing. To support a criminal case, prosecutors would have to prove that Trump or others intentionally mishandled the documents or were grossly negligent in doing so — a high legal bar.
But the investigation will be another in a long list that could plague Trump as he signals he could run for president again in 2024. Trump also faces multiple civil and criminal investigations into his business practices and his efforts to reverse his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
When he ran for president in 2016, Trump railed against his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, over an FBI investigation into her handling of classified information when she was secretary of state. At one point during a presidential debate, he said that if he were president, Clinton would be in jail.