U.S. Justice believes that the operation was intended to impede the FBI’s investigation of the former president

Top-secret documents seized from the Florida residence of former U.S. President Donald Trump were “likely hidden” to impede the federal police investigation targeting him, assures a Justice Department document released Tuesday night.

This procedural document explains in the most detailed way to date the reasons that led the U.S. federal police (FBI) to search dramatically on August 8 the residence of the former Republican president to recover highly confidential documents that he had not returned after leaving the White House, despite multiple requests.

The investigation seeks to determine whether Donald Trump or those close to him engaged in criminally reprehensible conduct in seeking to prevent the FBI from retrieving the documents, the Justice Department said.

Prior to the operation, the FBI uncovered “multiple lines of evidence” showing that “classified documents” remained in Trump’s sprawling Mar-a-Lago, Florida, residence, it says.

Police “also had evidence that government documents were likely hidden and taken … and that acts were likely performed to obstruct his investigation,” the court document continues.

In particular, the Justice Department describes how FBI agents first went to Mar-a-Lago in June to retrieve several files, with a member of Trump’s team providing them with “an affidavit” that they were the last ones in the residence.

But in the August search, federal police found about 30 boxes with documents so sensitive, ranging “from confidential to top secret,” that the FBI and Justice Department lawyers had to seek “additional clearances” before they could see them, it says.

The actions described by the Justice Department show “deliberate deception” and “extremely irresponsible” behavior by Donald Trump’s inner circle, blasted Democratic elected official Adam Schiff, chairman of a congressional intelligence committee.

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Thrown to the ground

On the last page of the account, a striking photo shows documents seized by federal police, stamped with “Top Secret,” scattered on a floral patterned carpet.

“It’s horrible how the FBI, during the raid at Mar-a-Lago, threw documents any way on the floor (maybe to make it look like I did it!),” Donald Trump retorted Wednesday on his Truth Social platform, assuring that he had declassified them beforehand.

The Republican, who is flirting with the idea of a candidacy for the presidential election of 2024, denounces for months a “witch hunt” conducted against him by the administration of his successor, and believes that justice should “never have allowed this break-in” at his home.

The Justice Department says it has explained the process that led to the search in order to “correct the incomplete and inaccurate narrative presented in Trump’s statements.”

The department’s statement in effect responds to the former president’s request last week to have an independent expert review the documents seized from his home by the FBI.

But appointing that third party could block investigators’ access to the documents, and the justice system should not do so “because these (seized) documents do not belong” to Trump, the Justice Department points out.

Such a move “is unnecessary and would seriously harm the interests of the state, including national security,” it writes.

The investigation and search at Mar-a-Lago were triggered by the January handover to the National Archives agency, which is responsible for recording presidential activities for history, of 15 boxes of documents taken by Donald Trump when he left the Oval Office.

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Some of these documents had the sign “HCS,” which in U.S. intelligence parlance refers to information provided by “human sources,” informants and other undercover agents. Examination of these boxes convinced the FBI that others were still to be retained by the former president.

The investigators suspect that Donald Trump has violated a U.S. law on espionage that strictly regulates the possession of confidential documents.

The billionaire is also under investigation for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and his role in his supporters’ assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.

He is not currently being prosecuted in any cases.