Federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury investigation into former President Donald Trump and other officials who served in his administration over whether classified material that ended up at his home in Mar-a-Lago was mishandled.
“In recent days, the Justice Department has taken a series of steps showing that its investigation has progressed beyond the preliminary stages,” The New York Times reported. “Prosecutors issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration to obtain the boxes of classified documents.”
The investigation is centered on the National Archives discovering earlier in the year that Trump had taken home 15 boxes from the White House that contained government documents, including “items marked as classified national security information.”
“President Trump consistently handled all documents in accordance with applicable law and regulations,” a spokesperson for Trump said. “Belated attempts to second-guess that clear fact are politically motivated and misguided.”
The report said that the main purpose of these types of investigations is usually for federal authorities to determine if any classified material was compromised so that intelligence officials can take steps to protect sensitive sources and methods.
Prosecutors are seeking to learn every aspect of how the documents were handled from the time the documents left the White House until they were returned to the National Archives.
“In the case of Mr. Trump, legal experts said, presidents have the ability while in office to essentially declassify whatever information they want, further complicating any possible prosecution,” the report added. “The classified documents in question are considered presidential records under federal law. Because of that distinction, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were notified of the Justice Department’s request, giving them the opportunity to block their release by going to court to quash the subpoena. It is unclear if the lawyers have responded.”
The report said that for prosecutors to be able to prove that a crime was committed they would need evidence showing that the parties involved with removing the documents from the White House knew that the documents were classified and knew that removing them would violate the law.
The former president is also facing a grand jury investigation from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over whether he and others illegally tried to influence the results of the 2020 presidential election, although it is not clear what charges Willis could bring in the case, which has been underway for over a year.
This report has been updated to include additional information.