New Jersey club was initially scrutinized by the Trump papers inquiry.

According to two people familiar with the subject, federal prosecutors looking into Donald Trump’s retention of national security material were looking at evidence within weeks of the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago last year that he may have handled classified information at his Bedminster club in New Jersey.

A portion of the inquiry into whether Trump may have transferred the materials or revealed their contents there in along with not returning them to the government was focused on this question since the hints of classified information at Bedminster so worried prosecutors, the people said.

This month, Trump was charged with obstruction of justice and keeping secret material related to national defense. The indictment also prominently claimed that Trump talked a military strategy to strike Iran and brandished a secret map of Afghanistan. in front of a staff in 2021 at new jersey property.

Early on in the criminal investigation that grew following the FBI search and concluded in Trump being charged with breaking the Espionage Act, there was suspicion that Trump transported secret materials between his homes in Mar-a-Lago, his winter property, and Bedminster, his summer estate.

A representative for the justice department declined to comment.

The justice department informed the Trump legal team that they suspected the former president still had secret information in his possession just weeks after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in an effort to follow up on signals that there were classified records at Bedminster, the sources said.

The letter’s clear message—which became a formal court request weeks later—was to organize for further searches of all Trump properties because, at the time, only the Mar-a-Lago resort had been searched for classified materials.

The legal staff for Donald Trump disagreed on whether to grant the request. Boris Epshteyn, in-house counsel for Trump, and attorney Chris Kise expressed reluctance to follow government orders, while Tim Parlatore and Jim Trusty advocated for a cooperative strategy.

In an exchange, the legal team questioned prosecutors which Trump properties and locations on the Trump properties they wanted them to inspect before deciding to engage with the justice department.

Because they might not be aware of all the properties under the former president’s control, the prosecutors were ambiguous and informed the Trump legal team they weren’t in the business of revealing precise locations. However, it should be noted that they did expressly ask for a fresh Bedminster search.

Due to the fact that the subpoena was given to the president’s political office, that has registration at Mar-a-Lago and a building in Palm Beach rather than the golf club in New Jersey, and not to Trump, Bedminster hadn’t been previously searched after Trump got a subpoena in May for any classified-marked documents.

(While the justice department frequently issues subpoenas to organizations due to the fifth amendment act production theory, the reason the subpoena was sent to the Trump political office remained unknown.

But according to persons familiar with what they certified to the then-chief US judge in Washington, Beryl Howell, who was supervising the grand jury lawsuit, when the latest inspections of the Trump properties by subcontractors took place, they found no secret papers at Bedminster.

According to the persons, given the earlier evidence regarding possible classified materials at the club and the outcome of the Bedminster search, prosecutors were unhappy and asked the Trump campaign for a custodian of documents to certify that no additional documents were still in Trump’s hands.

It was when the Trump legal team offered that Parlatore speak before the grand jury rather than providing a custodian because Trump didn’t have one.

Prosecutors believed Trump treated Bedminster like a vacation home, where he transported boxes of belongings away from Mar-a-Lago at the beginning of the summer and then returned with everything to Mar-a-Lago at the end of the season since there were no classified materials there, the people said.

Though it is unclear exactly when prosecutors became aware of the audio recording of Trump discussing the military strategy to attack Iran in July 2021 at Bedminster, their suspicions were later confirmed in March when they subpoenaed Trump aide Margo Martin to testify about the recording’s veracity.

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