Justice Department launches investigation into classified documents at Mar-a-Lago: report

Justice Department launches investigation into classified documents at Mar-a-Lago: report
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland (screengrab).

The United States Department of Justice is investigating former President Donald Trump's handling of more than a dozen boxes of classified documents that found their way to Mar-a-Lago at the end of his term, "a source familiar with the matter" revealed to CNN on Thursday.

As his administration came to a close, Trump and his associates scuttled regulations under the Presidential Records Act by not handing over internal chronicles of his presidency – which by law are a matter of public record – to the National Archives.

Although the Archives has been conducting its own probe into how and why so much material was confiscated by the Trump team, the Justice Department's new investigation supersedes it.

According to CNN, "in a letter that the House Oversight Committee disclosed on Thursday, Archives General Counsel Gary Stern said the agency was unable to respond to the panel's request for more information, based on the Archives' 'consultation' with the Justice Department."

On March 28th, CNN continued, House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland for "additional information as to why the Justice Department is preventing the Archives from cooperating with the panel."

The Justice Department "is preventing NARA from cooperating with the Committee's request, which is interfering with the Committee's investigation," Maloney wrote to Garland in a letter on Thursday that was obtained by CNN. "By blocking NARA from producing the documents requested by the Committee, the Department is obstructing the Committee's investigation."

While Maloney's letter stated that the Committee "does not wish to interfere in any manner with any potential or ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice," CNN noted that the Congresswoman "has not received any explanation for why the Justice Department is preventing the Archives from providing information to the Committee, which is investigating potential violations of the Presidential Records Act by Trump."

The story first emerged on February 25th in a report in The Washington Post. The paper discovered through interviews with unnamed sources that "there are records" stashed at Trump's Palm Beach, Florida estate which have "the very highest levels of classification, including some that can be viewed by only a small number of government officials."

Maloney, for her part, has been at the forefront of getting to the bottom of Trump's potentially criminal behavior.

Maloney wrote at the time that she was "deeply concerned that former President Trump may have violated the law through his intentional efforts to remove and destroy records that belong to the American people. This Committee plans to get to the bottom of what happened and assess whether further action is needed to prevent the destruction of additional presidential records and recover those records that are still missing.”

Additionally, Trump White House officials "failed to capture presidential records on social media platforms," the Post learned based on the information it received from the Archives, which is "'continuing to search for missing records from the Trump Administration' because of White House staffers who conducted official business 'using non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded to their official electronic messaging accounts.'”

Trump had also reportedly attempted to flush shredded documents down White House toilets, according to excerpts from an upcoming book by New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman.

This revelation may offer an explanation for Trump's complaint about plumbing in 2019.

“We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on – and in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it, and you don’t get any water,” Trump said. “You turn on the faucet and you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. Just dripping out, very quietly dripping out. People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once."

Trump says people are 'flushing toilets 10, 15 times' in call for better water standards youtu.be

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