- A photo from Tuesday’s court hearing shows some of the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.
- Several documents had brightly colored covers marked “TOP SECRET”.
- According to the National Archives, such title pages must remain on documents until they are declassified or destroyed.
A photo released by the Justice Department gives insight into material seized by the FBI during a raid on former President Donald Trump’s club and residence in Florida on August 8, including documents clearly marked “Top Secret” with colored title pages.
The photo, which was released Tuesday in court, shows a large pile of documents scattered across the floor in an undisclosed location. At least half a dozen documents include flashy title pages that are used by the federal government to indicate what security clearance is required to view a given document.
As previously reported by Insider, blue cover sheets are used to mark documents “CONFIDENTIAL”, red is used to mark documents “SECRET”, and orange is used to mark documents “TOP SECRET”, for example.
The photograph of the Mar-a-Lago files showed five documents with yellow cover pages marked “TOP SECRET/SCI”. Confidential Shared Information, or SCI, refers to an additional restriction on who in a group, in this case with “top secret” clearance, can view a document. At least one document with a reddish-orange cover is marked SECRET/SCI.
“Top Secret” is the highest level of classification a document can receive, followed by “Secret” and “Confidential,” with an added SCI label that imposes additional restrictions.
The title page also clearly states: “All persons handling this information have a duty to protect it from unauthorized disclosure in the interests of the national security of the United States. executive order(s) and executive instructions of the agency.”
According to the National Archives, title pages with classifications must remain affixed to the top of documents until they are declassified, downgraded, or destroyed.
It is not clear where the photograph of the documents was taken, but the documents may have been spread on the floor by the agents documenting the seized materials, as evidenced by the marker “2A” and a ruler in the foreground of the image, which is commonly used in such cases to show the size of the materials in the photo .
Marker “2A” appears to match the list of seized materials, which describes item 2A as “Various classified documents/TS/SCI documents”. The second item on the list was described as “a box of leather-bound documents”, suggesting that the documents in the photo were found inside this box, which was not shown.
The Justice Department is investigating Trump’s handling of government documents, including those he took with him to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House. Presidential records, classified or not, are in the public domain and are maintained by the National Archives when the president leaves office.
During the Mar-a-Lago raid, the FBI seized several sets of classified documents, according to court records. In a court filing Tuesday, federal investigators said they have evidence that efforts were “likely” to obstruct the investigation and that classified records may have been “hidden and deleted.”
Trump denied wrongdoing with various explanations, including that he declassified all documents at Mar-a-Lago and said his team cooperated with the investigation prior to the search.
The photo, taken Tuesday, also shows a framed copy of a 2019 Time magazine cover showing Trump looking over his shoulder from the Oval Office as a number of his 2020 Democratic challengers look out the window.