Apr 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump urged to return docs nearly a year before search, FBI filing says

Former President Trump in New York City on Monday. Photo: Brendan McDermid-Pool/Getty Images

An associate of former President Trump told the FBI of advising Trump to return documents the National Archives was seeking nearly a year before agents searched his Mar-a-Lago home, according to newly unsealed filings.

The big picture: The summary of the unnamed associate's FBI interview was among a trove of documents that the judge handling Trump's classified documents case released with redactions on Monday.

  • Other revelations included that the Bureau initially referred to the Trump investigation with the code name "PLASMIC ECHO; Mishandling of Classified or National Defense Information."

Driving the news: The associate, identified in the filings only as "person 16," told the FBI that they had said to Trump while at Mar-a-Lago in Florida: "Whatever you have, give everything back. Let them come here and get everything. Don't give them a noble reason to indict you, because they will."

  • The associate claimed Trump gave a "weird 'you're the man' type of response" and was left with the impression that the former president would return the documents to the National Archives.
  • It was also suggested that one of Trump's children was told there were "issues" with the boxes of documents that "belong to the government" and they were urged to "talk to your dad about giving them back."
  • Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment on the matter.

Zoom out: Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case that relate to allegations that he violated the Espionage Act by keeping the documents.

  • His legal team has argued that the Presidential Records Act gave Trump the power to designate presidential documents as personal.
  • However, Judge Aileen Cannon ruled in rejecting their argument that this should be grounds to toss the case that the PRA "does not provide a pre-trial basis to dismiss."

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