Trump classified documents found in Mar-a-Lago bedroom after FBI search, court documents reveal

Donald Trump speaks to reporters Thursday at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. Court documents unsealed Tuesday in Trump's classified documents case reveal his lawyers found four documents in the former president's Mar-a-Lago bedroom four months after the FBI's search in August 2022. Pool Photo by Steven Hirsch/UPI

May 21 (UPI) -- Donald Trump's lawyers found four classified documents in the former president's bedroom months after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell's 2023 opinion revealed an empty folder and "another mostly empty folder marked 'Classified Evening Summary'" were discovered by Trump's lawyers four months after prosecutors had subpoenaed them, and four months after the FBI had conducted a thorough search of the property in August 2022, according to the 87-page document.

"Notably, no excuse is provided as to how the former president could miss the classified-marked documents found in his bedroom at Mar-a-Lago," Howell, an Obama appointee, wrote. Trump's office turned over the box of documents to the FBI in January 2023, Howell said.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, released the documents Tuesday following redaction negotiations with special counsel Jack Smith and Trump's lawyers. The opinion was released, in addition to other filings, as Trump's lawyers work to have the case dismissed.

Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts last June related to his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Two hearings are scheduled for Wednesday as Trump aide Walt Nauta tries to dismiss obstruction and false statement charges against him.

Earlier this month, Cannon indefinitely postponed Trump's trial -- which had been scheduled to start this week -- due to the large number of outstanding pre-trial motions. Cannon said she had "eight substantive pretrial motions" to rule on, including litigation on CIPA, which will determine how classified information should be presented at the trial. The delay could push the trial until after the 2024 election.

Prosecutors have pursued a previously undisclosed theory of steps they allege Trump and his associates took to obstruct the documents investigation. Last year, prosecutors compelled testimony from one of Trump's attorneys, Evan Corcoran, alleging that aides moved boxes without being caught on camera after Trump was informed of a government subpoena for video footage.

"The government urged that this scramble to Mar-a-Lago in the wake of the June 24, 2022, phone call reflects the former president's realization that the removal of the boxes from the storage room before the search was captured on camera -- and his attempts to ensure that any subsequent movement of the boxes back to the storage room could occur off camera," Howell wrote.

The government has alleged in the indictment that Nauta and Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira allegedly conspired to try to delete surveillance footage.

"This theory draws support from the curious absence of any video footage showing the return of the remaining boxes to the storage room, which necessarily occurred at some point between June 3, 2022 -- when the room had approximately [redacted] boxes, according to FBI agents -- and the execution of the search warrant on Aug. 8, 2022 -- when agents counted 73 boxes," the judge wrote.