The DOJ believes Trump still may not have returned all White House documents after FBI already seized thousands of pages of material: report

Documents seized during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago
This image contained in a court filing by the Department of Justice on Aug. 30, 2022, and redacted by in part by the FBI, shows a photo of documents seized during the Aug. 8 search by the FBI of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.Department of Justice via AP
  • The DOJ believes Donald Trump possesses more White House documents, The New York Times reported.

  • Trump's lawyers have decided to take a more defensive response to the accusation, per NYT.

  • The FBI previously found 48 empty folders that were marked "classified."

The Justice Department believes Donald Trump still may not have turned over all White House documents, according to a New York Times report.

The news comes after the FBI collected thousands of pages of material, including hundreds that were marked classified, and in the midst of an ongoing special master review of the seized items.

A Justice Department official, Jay I. Bratt, approached Trump's lawyers in recent weeks, notifying them that the agency believes the former president has not returned all the documents, according to The Times, which cites two anonymous sources familiar with the situation.

It's not clear what new evidence the DOJ has that prompted the outreach from the official, The Times reported.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

According to The Times' sources, Trump's lawyers began to discuss whether to cooperate with the DOJ by hiring a forensic firm to do a scan for more documents or to take a more defensive approach. The team decided to go with a more defensive response, The Times reported.

At least 11,000 pages of official government documents were seized from Mar-a-Lago by the FBI in August. This does not include a trove of material that Trump's team returned after the National Archives and Records Administration requested them around May 2021.

Trump's counsel claimed in court filings that the number of documents is "closer to 200,000 pages," as part of their argument that the November 30 deadline for a special master to review all the material is too rigid.

In September, the Justice Department also revealed that the FBI recovered 48 empty folders that were marked classified. There has been no indication so far that this means there were documents inside the folders that went missing.

However, the DOJ previously indicated that it hasn't ruled out the possibility of finding more records.

When the department appealed a federal judge's block to review a set of classified records, the DOJ argued that the order bars the agency from "further reviewing the records to discern any patterns in the types of records that were retained, which could lead to identification of other records still missing."

A representative for Trump didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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