The filing submitted to the New York AG office raises key questions regarding Mar-a-Lago’s separate investigation, primarily whether Habba ended up tampering with any of the documents the DOJ later uncovered at Trump’s club; and, if so, whether she has permission to do so. In her affidavit, Habba said she searched numerous locations that would later be examined by the FBI during its Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago – and where investigators say they uncovered a significant volume of secrets highly classified government. The documents, these investigators said, “had colored covers indicating their classification status” clearly indicating their meaning.
“Classified documents were found both in the storage room and in the former president’s office,” the DOJ revealed. in a court case Tuesday evening, also noting: “Three classified documents which were not in boxes, but rather in the offices of ‘Office 45′”.
Habba did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did Trump’s press officers and attorneys immediately respond to requests for comment. But experts in the field predicted her statement to James’s office would spark the interest of investigators.
The Justice Department “will surely interview him,” said Andrew Weissmann, a former assistant U.S. attorney and a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Habba said in her New York filing that she had not uncovered any documents responding to the subpoena issued by James, which focuses on issues separate from whether or not the president took or stored inappropriate classified information.
Habba was one of the most vocal defenders on Fox News and in other pro-Trump outlets, decrying the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago as a political attack without legal basis.
Just six days after Habba said she had examined every corner of Mar-a-Lago, the Ministry of Justice has been assigned “all documents or writings in the custody or control of Donald J. Trump and/or Donald J. Trump’s office bearing classification marks.” After the issuance of this subpoena, Trump indicated that he had answered directing staff to conduct a thorough search of the property for documents marked as classified.
At a June 3 meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s lawyers gave investigators “a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in duct tape, containing the documents,” according to the Justice Department.
But the DOJ came to believe that Trump’s team had withheld and concealed numerous additional classified documents, leading to the August 8 search warrant executed by the FBI. During the search, officers recovered boxes of equipment hidden in Trump’s store and office, as well as some items marked classified “located in the offices of ‘Office 45′” – the very locations where Habba told the James’ office that she had searched.
Habba’s search also came amid increasingly tense negotiations between the National Archives and Trump’s legal team over documents held at Mar-a-Lago. A letter from Acting Archivist, Debra Steidel Wallon May 10 revealed that Trump’s legal team had resisted NARA’s efforts to share with the Justice Department documents it had already recovered from Mar-a-Lago.
Meridith McGraw contributed.