DOJ's unsealed inventory list puts Donald Trump's legal team in a tricky place

West Palm Beach, Florida - A judge unsealed the Department of Justice's inventory list of items taken from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home during the FBI's raid on August 8, which included over 40 classified folders that were barren.

A Judge unsealed the Department of Justice's inventory list from the FBI's raid at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.
A Judge unsealed the Department of Justice's inventory list from the FBI's raid at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.  © Collage: STRINGER & Stefani Reynolds / AFP

Judge Aileen Cannon, who Trump's legal team asked to appoint a "special master" to review docs seized by the FBI, ordered for the bureau's inventory list to be made public in a Thursday court hearing.

On Friday the doc was made public, and its contents were quite telling.

According to the inventory filing, over 10,000 US government docs and photographs without classified markings were uncovered during the raid at Mar-a-Lago. But the real reason for concern lies with the finding 43 empty folders with "classified" markings that were completely empty.

It's currently unknown what happened to the info stored in those "classified" folders, but it's not far off to think some docs might've been stored elsewhere within the Mar-a-Lago estate.

After all, the FBI did take boxes that weren't labeled as "classified," meaning there's potential that some of the missing info got scrambled into a different box or folder.

This surely would fit into the DOJ's belief that Trump's team knowingly moved and concealed docs from the federal government.

But the 43 classified folders weren't the only barren files the FBI found during its raid.

Investigators find press clippings, gifts, and items of clothing in boxes marked "classified"

The former president's Mar-a-Lago estate was raided by the FBI on August 8.
The former president's Mar-a-Lago estate was raided by the FBI on August 8.  © Giorgio VIERA / AFP

Investigators also stumbled on 28 empty folders that were labeled "Return to Staff Secretary/Military Aide," per the inventory list.

The newly unsealed inventory doc also stated one box found at Mar-a-Lago that contained documents with "confidential," "top secret," and "secret" classifications, also had "99 magazines/newspapers/press articles" inside.

In total, the FBI seized two US government docs labeled "confidential," 15 labeled "secret," and seven labeled "top secret."

Several other boxes on the list that were marked as "classified" also contained press clippings, articles of clothing, and gifts.

Judge Cannon ordered the information in the DOJ's inventory receipt be unsealed in a Thursday court hearing regarding Trump's request to appoint a "special master" to review the evidence seized – a motion that was filed two weeks after the FBI's raid.

At Thursday's hearing, the judge also ordered for the unsealing of the DOJ's status report on its ongoing investigation, which was made public on Friday.

DOJ says seized materials will be used "to further the government's investigation"

In the status report, the department indicated that "the seized materials will continue to be used to further the government's investigation, and the investigation will continue to use and evaluate the seized materials as it takes further investigative steps, such as through additional witness interviews and grand jury practice."

During the hearing, the former president's legal team argued that the docs taken were Trump's personal records that the US government had no right to take, while lawyers for the DOJ said the docs seized all belonged to the White House – not Trump. The 76-year-old's attorneys then toted a subpoena demanding the return of every classified doc taken during the August 8 raid at Mar-a-Lago.

Judge Cannon has yet to rule on whether she will appoint a "special master" or not, though she signaled a willingness to follow through with her original intent to do so during Thursday's hearing, despite the DOJ's argument that it would negatively impact its ongoing investigation.

Cover photo: Collage: STRINGER & Stefani Reynolds / AFP

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