In September 2021 call with Archives senior attorney Gary Stern, former White House deputy attorney Pat Philbin offers reassuring news: Philbin says he Already spoken to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who made the assertion about a dozen boxes of newspaper clippings, people familiar with the call said. Philbin said Trump’s team was unaware of the other material and relayed information he said he received from Meadows.
The descriptions on the call certainly misrepresented the size and variety of documents, including classified records, that were eventually recovered by the archives or the FBI.
Philbin said Meadows also told him that no documents were destroyed, according to two people familiar with the matter and another person with knowledge of Stern’s account of the call at the time. These and others disclosed internal details on condition of anonymity.
Stern sought the call because he believed Trump had more than two dozen materials in his hands and was concerned about whether digital records were properly maintained, according to a person familiar with the matter. Top archives officials still believe they know more material than they are told, according to people familiar with their thinking.
A spokesman for Philbin declined to comment. Attorneys for Meadows declined to comment, and a spokesman for Meadows did not respond to calls seeking comment. A person close to Philbin said he had no idea what was in the box or that it contained classified material.
In the year since the call, dossier and Justice Department officials have recovered 42 boxes of records from Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida property, including 15 boxes Trump’s representatives handed over to the archives last January, as well as the FBI Another 27 boxes retrieved. When a court authorized a search of Mar-a-Lago last month.
The records recovered by the FBI include documents detailing top-secret U.S. operations and information about foreign governments’ nuclear defense preparedness, The Washington Post reported. Some documents retrieved by the archives were also torn up, as is Trump’s habit.
New details about Philbin’s call suggest that Meadows was more deeply involved in communications with filing officials than was previously known. Some White House advisers have previously said that Meadows was deeply involved in the final packing of the White House.
The Justice Department has interviewed archives officials and subpoenaed documents from the archives as part of an investigation into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. Officials are seeking to understand what the archives were told and whether Trump’s representatives were honest, according to people familiar with the matter.
In a May 2021 email to Trump’s lawyers previously reported by The Washington Post, Stern wrote that about two dozen boxes in the White House residence have yet to be returned to the archives, “despite Trump’s decision to [former White House counsel] Pat Cipollone in the last days of the government they need to be. “
In court filings, the Justice Department released an email from the archives to Trump’s lawyers, saying NARA officials had “continued communications” with Trump’s representatives “throughout 2021” to try to secure the lost president For the record, only the first 15 boxes turned out to be transferred.
Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday that if he was accused of mishandling classified records, “there could be problems in this country that we’ve never seen before.”
“I don’t think the American people will support it,” Trump said.
Trump’s legal team said the seized documents included some personal records. They argued that the former president had an “absolute right to access” his presidential records and suggested that some documents marked classified may have been declassified before Trump left office. However, his lawyers have not formally asserted that any have declassified or otherwise addressed concerns that Trump may have improperly stored national security secrets at his Florida club.
U.S. District Judge Erin Cannon on Thursday appointed former New York Chief Federal Judge Raymond J. Deere as a special guru to sort through documents seized by the FBI to see if anyone should be a lawyer because of his status And blocked by criminal investigators – client or executive privilege. The Justice Department banned any of these documents from being used in its criminal investigations until Dearie reviewed them, slowing the investigation considerably.