The Justice Department’s court filing Tuesday laying out the case that classified documents had been concealed at Mar-a-Lago raises new scrutiny for former President Donald Trump’s lawyers who worked with federal investigators to return classified material to the government.
The FBI’s search on August 8 uncovering scores of classified material “cast serious doubt” on the sworn statement one of Trump’s lawyers made in June attesting that all classified material had been returned and a “diligent search” had been conducted, the Justice Department wrote.
Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb was the individual who signed the June 3 letter attesting that all materials requested by the subpoena issued to Trump had been turned over to the Justice Department, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
After receiving the subpoena, Trump’s team said it conducted a “diligent search” of boxes moved from the White House to Florida after Trump left office, according to the letter included in a DOJ court filing late Tuesday. Notably, the letter Bobb signed says she swears or affirms that “the above statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge.”
Though her name was redacted in Tuesday night’s filing, sources tell CNN it was Bobb who signed the letter and was designated the custodian of records. Bobb and Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran attended the meeting with federal investigators at Mar-a-Lago in June, when the agents were shown a storage room where materials were kept.
The New York Times, which first reported that Bobb had signed the document, reported that Corcoran drafted the June statement that Bobb signed.
Bobb and Corcoran did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. They have not been charged with any crimes.
In its court filing Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the FBI “uncovered multiple sources of evidence indicating that the response to the May 11 grand jury subpoena was incomplete and that classified documents remained at the premises, notwithstanding the sworn certification made to the government on June 3.”
“That the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter,” DOJ wrote.
CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said that the statements made in the June certification are demonstrably false, and the question is whether prosecutors can establish that Trump’s attorney “made that statement, knowing that it was false.”
“If so – and that’s a big if – then we could see false statements and obstruction charges in play,” Honig said.
The new scrutiny over the statement Bobb signed is only the latest instance where questions have swirled over the conduct of Trump’s legal team since the FBI’s search of his Florida home and resort.
Sources close to Trump have questioned the role of Bobb, a former One America News Network TV host who previously assisted Rudy Giuliani’s behind-the-scenes efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, CNN has reported.
Bobb has gone on television to defend Trump, though she has not been included on the legal filings Trump has made in Florida seeking to appoint a special master to review the materials taken in the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.
Corcoran is a former assistant US attorney based in Baltimore who has also represented Trump associate Steve Bannon.
On Monday, Trump added former Florida solicitor general Chris Kise to his legal team to represent him in the Mar-a-Lago search case. Kise will appear in court in Florida on Thursday with the rest of Trump’s legal team in the former president’s effort to have a special master assigned to review the materials taken from Mar-a-Lago.
Access to storage room
Tuesday’s DOJ filing included a narrative of the government’s attempts to retrieve classified material from Mar-a-Lago leading up to the August search – including several examples where members of Trump’s team are said to be part of an effort to impede the government’s efforts.
In addition to the DOJ showing that Trump’s team did not comply with the subpoena to return all classified documents, the government filing focuses on the June 3 meeting between Trump’s legal team and federal investigators.
In its account, the Justice Department describes the conduct of a Trump attorney, who is not named in the brief but according to a letter included with the filings was Corcoran, who “represented that all the records that had come from the White House” to Mar-a-Lago were being kept in the resort’s storage room, according to the filing.
“Counsel further represented that there were no other records stored in any private office space or other location at the Premises and that all available boxes were searched,” the DOJ said.
Through the DOJ and FBI officials visiting that day were allowed to enter the storage room, “the former President’s counsel explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained.”
With its further investigation, the “government developed evidence that a search limited to the Storage Room would not have uncovered all the classified documents at the Premises.”
“The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation,” DOJ wrote.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.