FBI agents found empty folders marked with classified banners among more than 11,000 government documents and photographs when they searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home last month, according to the US Justice Department.
The details were revealed in a more detailed inventory of the seized material made public by the department.
It describes in general terms the contents of 33 boxes taken from the former president’s Florida home during the search on 8 August.
It also shows the extent to which newspapers, magazines and other items were intermixed with documents that investigators say were marked as classified and top secret.
The Justice Department said there was no secure space at Mar-a-Lago for such sensitive government secrets.
It is carrying out a criminal investigation focused on whether he illegally retained national defence information and tried to obstruct the probe.
The inventory shows 43 empty folders with classified banners were taken from a box or container at the office, along with 28 empty folders labelled as “return to staff secretary” or military aide.
Such empty folders were also found in a storage closet.
It is not clear from the inventory why any of the folders were empty or what might have happened to any documents inside.
What was seized from Mar-a-Lago?
According to the inventory, these are the documents that were seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago:
• 99 magazines/newspapers/press articles and other printed media dated between 01/2017-10/2018
• 2 US government documents with CONFIDENTIAL classified markings
• 15 US government documents with SECRET classification markings
• 7 US government documents with TOP SECRET classification markings
• 69 US government documents/photographs without classification markings
• 43 empty folders with “CLASSIFIED” banners
• 28 empty folders labelled “Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide”
Trump’s lawyers downplay discovery
It comes after Mr Trump’s lawyers tried to downplay the discovery of highly-classified records at his Florida mansion.
An image was released in a court filing showing top secret documents uncovered in the search, some of which are marked as “top secret//sci”.
Mr Trump’s lawyers, in a filing to the court, said: “Simply put, the notion that presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm.”
They also attacked the Justice Department for carrying out the search, saying Mr Trump was involved in a “give-and-take” with the US National Archives over the return of presidential records at the time that was “standard”.
The filing also claimed Mr Trump allowed FBI agents to “come to his home and provide security advice”.