A timeline for the Mar-a-Lago search and the Department of Justice investigation


It started with a simple request from the National Archives — and grew into one of the worst legal threats to former President Donald Trump.

Nearly 18 months after the twice-impeached president left office on January 20, 2021, the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida on August 8 after numerous attempts boxes of confidential papers and White House papers belonging to the National Archives.

Now Trump faces a wide-ranging criminal investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice. Although no charges have been filed, legal observers suspect that the 45th President could face possible indictment.

Here’s a look at the key dates and actions in the saga:

— January 20, 2021: Trump is leaving the White House for his Florida home at the end of his four-year term, refusing to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration, putting him in the same company as President John Adams, President John Quincy Adams and President Andrew Johnson (the first commanders) brought in the first place to be charged).

Instead of handing over all the documents to the National Archives, Trump has some sent to his vacation home in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

— May 2021: The National Archives is asking Trump to return documents he took or kept when he left office, noting that “things can get very messy.”

— December 2021: After months of resisting the requests, Trump’s lawyers have agreed to release what they describe as memorabilia, such as his “love letters” to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

– January 17: The National Archives arrive in Mar-a-Lago to collect the documents, which include 15 boxes of top secret classified documents and records, including the Kim letters and a handwritten letter President Barack Obama left for Trump when he took office started.

Alarmed by what it found, the National Archives asks the FBI to examine the documents. Agents find 184 secret documents in this first batch. A criminal investigation is later opened into possible misuse of classified material.

— May 11: Investigators find that Trump did not turn over all of the remaining documents kept at Mar-a-Lago. They obtain a subpoena for the return of any documents still in his possession, and later one for security footage of the lightly guarded location.

– 3rd of June: Prosecutors visit Mar-a-Lago to personally collect documents that are the subject of the subpoena. Trump lawyers hand over some documents. They refuse to allow government officials to check boxes in the storage room for more classified documents.

One of Trump’s lawyers issues a written statement that no classified documents were left at Mar-a-Lago. This statement later turned out to be false.

– 8th June: Prosecutors warn Trump’s team to increase security in the basement storage room, prompting a padlock to be placed on the door.

— 8-22 June: The FBI is questioning Trump’s “human resources and household workers.” One or more of the witnesses told the FBI that Trump is still holding additional documents.

– 5th of August: Judge Bruce Reinhart grants the FBI’s request for a search warrant on some parts of Mar-a-Lago, including the storage room and Trump’s office. It is the first time such a search has been ordered at a former president’s home.

– 8th August: The FBI executed a search warrant while Trump’s lawyers looked on and collected many more boxes of documents. The FBI tried to keep the search low-key, but Trump revealed the search on social media, denouncing it as part of a partisan witch hunt.

– August 11: US Attorney General Merrick Garland agrees to allow release of search warrant, which includes details of what agents were looking for and an inventory of what was stolen.

The search turned up more than 100 confidential documents in 13 boxes or bins with classification markings, including some at the most restrictive levels. At least three such documents were found in the former president’s desk, according to prosecutors.

– August 22nd: Trump’s lawyers are asking US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to comb through the confiscated documents to separate those that may fall under attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Prosecutors say a filtering team of lawyers has already found a small number of items that may fall under the privilege.

– 26th of August: Judge Reinhart orders the release of a heavily redacted affidavit from an FBI special agent that convinced him to issue the search warrant. Much of it has been redacted, but the portions that are not redacted shed more light on the documents used to obtain the search warrant.

— August 30: The Justice Department says that government records were “likely concealed and removed” at Mar-a-Lago, greatly increasing the legal danger to Trump. It also contradicts Trump’s call for a special master, noting that he waited too long to submit and should have approached Reinhart.

— August 31: The DOJ is reportedly likely to wait until after the Nov. 8 midterm elections to announce possible charges against Trump, according to Bloomberg News.

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