stern reaches

“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant”

An aerial view of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is pictured on Wednesday, August 10, in Palm Beach, Florida.
An aerial view of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is pictured on Wednesday, August 10, in Palm Beach, Florida. (Steve Helber/AP)

The federal criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents ramped up this week in significant and unprecedented fashion, with the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The Justice Department inquiry is about documents that Trump removed from the White House as his term was ending in January 2021. Earlier this year, officials from the National Archives and Records Administration, known as NARA, recovered 15 boxes of presidential documents from Mar-a -Lago.

Trump’s lawyers previously worked with NARA to voluntarily turn over some documents, but the Mar-a-Lago search indicates a new phase of the probe. Trump has denied all wrongdoing and claims the investigation is a politically motivated sham, intended to derail his potential bid to return to the White House.

Here’s a timeline of the key moments from the investigation:

  • May 2021: An official from NARA contacts Trump’s team after realizing that several important documents weren’t handed over before Trump left the White House. In hopes of locating the missing items, NARA lawyer Gary Stern reaches out to someone who served in the White House counsel’s office under Trump who was the point of contact for record-keeping matters. The missing documents include some of Trump’s correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as the map of Hurricane Dorian that Trump infamously altered with a Sharpie pen.
  • Fall 2021: NARA grows frustrated with the slow pace of document turnover after several months of conversations with the Trump team. Stern reaches out to another Trump attorney to intervene. The archivist asks about several boxes of records that were apparently taken to Mar-a-Lago during Trump’s relocation to
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