- FBI agents recovered classified materials during a raid on Mar-a-Lago Monday, court documents say.
- Sources told NBC News that in the last days of Trump’s presidency aides rushed to pack up documents.
- One source said Trump didn’t seriously start preparing to exit the White House until after January 6.
Between the January 6 Capitol attack, challenges to the 2020 election, and his impending second impeachment, President Donald Trump had some chaotic final days in office.
Amid the chaos and the realization that every election challenge was failing, Trump began instructing aides to pack up documents he planned to take with him to Mar-a-Lago, according to an NBC News report published Saturday.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation told the outlet Trump’s aides were hurriedly stuffing documents and other materials into banker boxes that were then shipped to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach club and residence.
One source said Trump only began making plans to leave the White House after January 6, his final two weeks in office, after months of baselessly claiming he had won the election.
“It was a chaotic exit,” the source told NBC. “Everyone piled everything — staff, the White House movers — into the moving trucks. When they got to Mar-a-Lago, they piled everything there in this storage room, except for things like the first lady’s clothes. Everything in a box went there.”
The source said Trump was in a “dark place” at the time and that “he didn’t care about the boxes,” adding: “If you had brought him into that storeroom, and asked, ‘Which are your presidential papers?’ he couldn’t tell you.”
Mar-a-Lago was raided on Monday by FBI agents who seized 11 boxes of classified materials, some labeled “top secret,” according to court records unsealed Friday. The raid was part of the Justice Department’s investigation into possible violations of three laws related to handling government records, including part of the Espionage Act.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claimed he had declassified all the records at Mar-a-Lago, though he did not provide documentation of the declassification.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that one of Trump’s lawyers told the Justice Department in June that all classified documents had been returned. But, given the recovery of additional classified documents on Monday, the report raised questions about how cooperative and forthcoming the former president and his team have been with investigators.
Trump’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
During his four years in office, Trump developed a reputation for being flippant with presidential records, which are required by law to be preserved. Reports have said Trump would rip up papers or even flush them down the toilet. Some of his former staff members also said he would ask to keep certain documents.