Yet classified information was found more than two months later by FBI agents in their Monday search of Trump’s Florida home and golf resort.
The declaration, the Times noted, could be a sign that Trump or his team were not “fully forthcoming” about the information.
The declaration about the classified information was signed following a visit June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division, the Times reported.
At the time, Bratt and other officials briefly met with Trump and two of his lawyers, M. Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb, according to the newspaper.
Bratt and his team were shown boxes of documents Trump had taken from the White House that were being kept in a storage room, according to the Times’ sources. The officials reportedly left with material marked classified — and with the declaration that all classified documents had been turned over.
Bratt later contacted the attorneys to tell them to obtain a more secure lock for the storage area.
The Justice Department also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago recorded over a 60-day period, including views from outside the storage room, the Times noted. A source told the newspaper that the footage showed that after one instance when Justice Department officials contacted Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the storage room.
FBI agents on Monday removed 20 boxes of documents, including 11 sets of classified information, from Mar-a-Lago, according to the warrant and property receipt used by the FBI to conduct the search.
Some of the classified information seized Monday was top secret, which is supposed to be safeguarded only in a secure government facility. The Washington Post reported that some of the classified documents involved nuclear weapons, which was a key reason for the urgent search.
Because of the documents, Trump is now under investigation for a possible violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and removing and destroying official documents, according to the warrant.
In February, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 other boxes of material from Mar-a-Lago, which Trump had moved from the White House. The documents, including historic letters from Barack Obama and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, should have been transferred immediately to the National Archives at the end of Trump’s term.
The National Archives at that time asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Trump’s handling of White House records violated the law.
Trump said in a statement Friday that he issued a “standing order” that anything he removed from the White House be declassified. But he has offered no information or evidence that he followed any procedure or first reviewed any of the classified documents.
Although presidents can declassify certain information, there is a formal process for doing so.
It also appears unlikely he had the authority to declassify some of what was potentially contained in the documents ― like information on spies and nuclear weapons.
Read the full story at The New York Times.