Two documents which Donald Trump legal team returned to the Justice Department last year after retrieving them from a private storage facility in Florida as part of an additional search for materials were classified as classified, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The materials included one document marked classified on the cover page and a second document marked classified with the classified appendix removed, one of the sources said, which Trump’s lawyers said indicated the document was no longer classified. .

The two documents were found inside sealed boxes that did not appear to have been opened when they were sent to the vault in Floridanear Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, from the White House at the end of the Trump administration, Justice Department lawyers also said.

Because the two documents were returned once attorneys were informed of the discovery, the department will not include them in the broader criminal investigation into Trump’s withholding of national security information and obstruction of justice.

The discovery of additional classified documents, however, has frustrated the department as federal prosecutors, led by newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith, have taken an increasingly aggressive stance against Trump at each stage of the investigation.

“The Department of Justice is so desperate that they are now leaking information that actually proves that President Trump did the right thing,” Trump’s spokesman said in response. A representative of the Ministry of Justice declined to comment.

Last October, the Justice Department told Trump’s legal team that it suspected the former president still had classified documents even after FBI During the search, agents seized about a hundred confidential materials Mar-a-Lago property in Florida on August 8.

Trump eventually agreed around Thanksgiving to allow one of his lawyers to assemble a team with experience handling classified material to search Trump Tower in New York, Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey and Mar-a-Lago.

The team also searched a Florida warehouse that held boxes sent from the White House that were stacked in the bridal suite at Mar-a-Lago before being moved to a government-controlled facility — where they found two classified documents . markings.

Sources said federal prosecutors were concerned about the discovery of additional classified documents and demanded confirmation from Trump’s legal team that these were the most recent documents and that Trump did not have any further confidential government materials.

The Justice Department also asked Trump’s lawyers for the identities of the contractors who conducted the search, with the intention of questioning them about their work, Guardian reported earlier.

But Trump’s legal team refused the request and disputed that the department should know their names, the sources said, before later offering to make them available — but only under a protective order because they feared it would be leaked to the media.

The Justice Department rejected that deal and instead filed a motion to have them identified in a closed hearing this month before U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who agreed with federal prosecutors and ruled against Trump.

This order was issued by Gowell on January 5, sources said. It was not clear whether the department interviewed or subpoenaed the people who conducted the searches before a grand jury reviewing evidence in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

The closed-door hearing before Howell came as the special prosecutor weighed next steps specifically for the documents case, including whether to graft witnesses to get them to testify or threaten prosecution to get them to cooperate with prosecutors.

The developments in the criminal investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents come after Mike Pence and Joe Biden were found to have improperly stored classified government documents at their residences and on private property.

The Department of Justice typically prosecutes criminal mishandling of classified documents if they are associated with aggravating factors: willful mishandling of classified information, vast amounts of material indicating violations, disloyalty to the United States, and obstruction.

The Trump investigation touches on at least two of these elements. The obstruction particularly concerns Trump because of his reluctance to return classified documents, including when he only partially complied with a grand jury subpoena issued in May demanding any classified material.

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