The US Justice Department (DOJ) said Tuesday it had evidence that former President Donald Trump's team had deliberately obstructed an investigation by the FBI into the discovery of classified documents in his Florida estate in June.
The prosecutors claim that the evidence points to government records likely being concealed and removed from a storage room even after Trump's representatives falsely and deliberately assured officials that they had handed over everything of relevance in June.
What evidence is being cited?
In a 54-page filing, the prosecutors called this an obstruction of justice, revealing that Trump's legal representatives "explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes" inside a storage room in his Mar-a-Lago estate during the June search.
"The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation," the Justice Department said in a filing to the US District Court in the Southern District of Florida.
Intentional misleading of investigators
The Justice Department developed evidence to suggest more materials remained at the Palm Beach estate, hidden away from the investigators intentionally.
A second search of the former president's home on August 8 marked a significant escalation in the case.
The FBI seized another 33 boxes containing more than 100 classified records during the second search of Mar-a-Lago, some of which were marked as "top secret." The classification refers to the country's most closely-guarded information.
A filing of the chronological interaction between the Justice Department and Trump representatives describes that three classified documents had been stashed away in office drawers, showing a strained relationship over the discovery of classified information.
How will the court case progress?
The filing also responds to the request to appoint a special master by Trump's lawyers. A special master is an independent third party appointed in sensitive cases. In this case, the person appointed would be responsible for the review of the seized documents on August 8 to set aside those protected by legal privilege.
US District Judge Aileen Cannon will hear arguments on the matter, but stated on Saturday that it was her "preliminary intent" to appoint someone in the role.
However, the Justice Department said it had found a "limited set of material that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information" during a review of the documents, therefore opposing the appointment of a special master.