Investigators for the Justice Department wanted to search Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club for top secret documents but lacked probable cause to secure a warrant, says a report.
The team working for special counsel Jack Smith were concerned that the former president was hiding more documents at the 520-acre Bedminster club, sources told The New York Times.
Prosecutors have also subpoenaed surveillance footage from the club that Mr Trump has owned since 2002, in the same way they did from Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, the newspaper reported.
It was at Bedminster, where Mr Trump spends his summers, that he was caught on an audio recording showing off what he told people present was a “highly confidential” US plan to attack Iran.
The recording, obtained by the newspaper and CNN, was made at Bedminster in July 2021 during a meeting with a publisher and writer working on the memoir of Mark Meadows, Mr Trump’s final White House chief of staff.
The former president can be heard going through papers and telling the guests that they include a “secret” plan about Iran drawn up by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
Also reportedly at the meeting were Trump aides Margo Martin and Liz Harrington.
Prosecutors claim that on the same day the DoJ sent a top official to Florida to collect classified documents, Mr Trump’s co-defendant Walt Nauta loaded boxes from Mar-a-Lago onto a plane that flew “Trump and his family north for the summer.”
Mr Trump’s latest defence is that he did not actually show off classified documents and that he had been speaking with “bravado.”
“I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth, it was bravado,” Mr Trump told Semafor and ABC News aboard his plane. “I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about them, but I had no documents. I didn’t have any documents.”
Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 charges related to alleged mishandling of classified documents.
It is alleged he illegally retained national defence information and that he concealed documents in violation of witness-tampering laws.
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