WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31, 2022
The best numbers we can offer at this point in time: During or after Donald Trump's presidency, a large number of documents marked as classified found their way to Mar-a-Lago.
During the course of the current year, a large number of such documents have been removed from Mar-a-Lago—first in January, then on June 3, then in the FBI search conducted on August 8.
By this time, how many such documents have been recovered? Also, how many of those documents were marked as "Top Secret?"
At the higher ends of our journalism, statistics can seem to be boring, and statistics can be very hard.
For that reason, we're going to report the total number of such documents which have been recovered to date, according to official filings by the Justice Department. Also, we're going to list the number of such documents which were marked "Top Secret."
One bit of confusion is already infesting the way some journalists are describing this matter. Below, we'll offer the dope on that too.
How many such documents have been recovered in all?
How many documents marked as classified have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago? Here are the best numbers available at the present time, according to this newly released DOJ document:
Recovered in January: 184 such documents (DOJ document, page 7)
Recovered on June 3: 38 such documents (DOJ document, page 10)
Recovered on August 8: "Over one hundred unique documents" (DOJ document, page 12)
For whatever reason, the newly-released document isn't specific about the number of classified documents recovered on August 8. That said:
Given what we know at present, at least 323 documents with classified markings—and some unknown additional number—have been recovered to date.
How many documents marked Top Secret have been recovered?
How many documents marked Top Secret have been recovered from Mar-a-Lago? Here are the best numbers available at the present time:
Recovered in January: 25 such documents (DOJ document, page 7)
Recovered on June 3: 17 more such documents (DOJ document, page 10)
Recovered on August 8: The newly released DOJ document doesn't give a specific number. It merely says that some unstated number of such documents were recovered that day.
Earlier reporting said that five "sets" of such documents were recovered on August 8. Best estimate at present:
At least 44 such documents have been recovered, though the number may well be closer to 60. For whatever reason, the precise number still seems to be unknown.
A point of instant confusion:
On page 12 of the newly-released DOJ document the Justice Department says this about the August 8 search:
During the August 8 search, investigators found "over one hundred unique documents with classified markings—that is, more than twice the amount produced on June 3, 2022, in response to the grand jury subpoena."
We've already seen some journalists report this presentation in ways which are misleading, confusing or jumbled. In fairness, it's hard to report such matters on the fly.
Here's what is and isn't said in the newly-released document:
On August 8, the FBI found more than twice as many documents as were handed over by Trump's lawyers on June 3. The FBI did not find more than twice as many documents as had been handed over in January and June combined.
A few last apparent points:
None of this means that there aren't additional classified documents somewhere at Mar-a-Lago. None of this means that additional classified documents aren't present at other of Donald Trump's residences.
Beyond that, is it possible that other classified documents have been given or sold to other parties? As far as we know, that has to be rated as possible. Also this:
Presumably, any of these documents could have been Xeroxed.
The National Archives has recovered well over 300 documents with classified markings. At least 44 were marked Top Secret, though the number may well be substantially higher than that.
Copies of those documents could of course exist. As far as we know, there's no way at the present time that any such thing can be known.