Washington, Sep 1 (IANS) Former US President Donald Trump is likely to have stashed copies of classified documents, seized in FBI raids from his Mar-a-Lago residence, in multiple locations across the country in an apparent attempt to use them as bargaining chips with the DOJ and the FBI to escape prosecution, according to Trump’s one-time attorney Michael Cohen.
Trump may be hiding the classified documents in his children’s homes and the Trump Towers in lower Manhattan in New York and several other locations as well, as per him.
Cohen has also posited that Trump may attempt to find a scapegoat for any offenses uncovered by the Mar-a-Lago raid, such as his former lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. He also speculated that Trump likely kept the classified documents as a “bargaining chip,” so he could threaten the release of classified information to America’s adversaries as a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.
Cohen was reacting on Twitter to an article from The Washington Post on the Department of Justice’s recent court filing, in which it suggested that Trump’s team may have concealed or moved top-secret files when officials were probing the matter.
“I believe Trump has copies, potentially other documents as well, at other locations including his children’s homes, Weisselberg’s Florida home, Bedminster, NJ golf course, Fifth Avenue apartment, etc…” he tweeted. Allen Weisselberg is the Trump Organisation’s former CFO.
Media reports claim that Trump has panicked at DOJ’s release of the photos of raids and seizure of classified documents from his winter home showing FBI agents walking in and out with boxes of documents. MSNBC’s John Heilemann colorfully described Donald Trump’s anxious behaviour ahead of a Department of Justice filing that laid waste to his legal defence in the Mar-A-Lago search.
The 40-page filing argues that Trump has no standing to claim any relief for classified materials seized by FBI agents because the documents belong to the National Archives, and not him, and prosecutors showed evidence that he and his attorneys obstructed the investigation.
“DOJ veterans say Trump can’t escape after stealing, lying, and stonewalling. It seems like they don’t have any legal moves left,” Heilemann said. “I’m not a lawyer, but the lawyer I talked to said this situation is going to get worse for them.
“What that leads to, really in the end, it’s still the question of what AG Merrick Garland is going to do, is he going to indict Donald Trump? There was some discussion among prosecutors, no, maybe if he got the classified documents back, it would have served its purpose, and they would no longer be at risk. Maybe he won’t go through with it.”
During its search of Mar-a-Lago on August 8, the FBI seized 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked “top secret” and files that may have concerned nuclear weapons. According to the warrant for the search, the DOJ is looking into whether Trump broke any of three federal laws – including the Espionage Act – by keeping the documents at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The property made a number of headlines and served as the First Family’s gilded getaway throughout Trump’s presidency.
Following the end of his presidential term, Trump decamped to the ornate resort. Reports in 2020 of construction work at the family’s on-property living quarters and Melania Trump touring a local school (presumably for son Barron) stoked rumors of the move long before it was official. Neighbors even publicly spoke about wanting Trump to stay away, though it clearly didn’t deter him.
Mar-a-Lago has hosted a number of high-powered visitors over the years, serving as a lavish backdrop to host important dignitaries with its elaborately decorated halls.
It is unclear if the former president ever made copies of these documents, or if these copies are being kept at the former President’s other homes. A representative at Trump’s post-presidential press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Cohen was Trump’s lawyer and close confidante for a decade. In 2018, he was the subject of a search of his home and office, as part of a Trump-related investigation into illegal hush-money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to felonies including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and bank fraud. He was sentenced in December 2018 to three years in prison and was disbarred in February 2019 by the New York Supreme Court.
Cohen had celebrated the news of the raid, saying that Trump was finally being “held accountable.” He later weighed in on how Trump was likely nervous about a potential mole at Mar-a-Lago and said he would not be surprised if one of Trump’s children or his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was an FBI informant.