“Better check Bedminster”: Video shows Trump boarding plane with boxes after feds asked for docs

Resurfaced video prompts calls for FBI to search Trump's other properties for classified material

By Areeba Shah

Staff Writer

Published September 12, 2022 3:17PM (EDT)

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for his last time as President on January 20, 2021. (Pete Marovich - Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for his last time as President on January 20, 2021. (Pete Marovich - Pool/Getty Images)

Two prominent Trump critics speculated that he could still have copies of classified documents stashed away at other locations even after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate last month.

In a video resurfaced on social media, former President Donald Trump appears to be boarding a private jet as his aides load nine storage boxes onto the aircraft prior to his flight from Palm Beach, Florida, to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club.

The footage, which was originally filmed for the Daily Mail, reemerged on social media after prosecutors warned last week that Trump's team did not return all of the classified records removed from the White House at the end of his presidency. 

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok took to Twitter to note that the footage was recorded on May 9, 2021, three days after the National Archives and Records Administration informed Trump's team that material was missing and may be at Mar-a-Lago. 

Strzok, who served as the deputy assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, compared pictures of the cardboard boxes in the video to a picture of the boxes released by the Department of Justice during its raid of Mar-A-Lago, suggesting that the type or brand of boxes are similar. 

The FBI recovered at least 325 unique classified documents during its search of Mar-A-Lago, including some marked "top secret" and other material so sensitive that the counterintelligence personnel conducting the review required additional clearances before being able to review them.

"The mere fact they were top secret FBI documents, they only should have been stored, processed, handled in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility and Mar-a-Lago clearly was not," said Javed Ali, associate professor of practice at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a former senior counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security.

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Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen previously suggested that Trump may be keeping additional records at Bedminster and other locations after the DOJ suggested Trump's team may have concealed or moved top-secret files.

"I believe #Trump has copies, potentially other documents as well, at other locations including his children's homes, Weisselberg's florida home, Bedminster, NJ golf course, Fifth Avenue apartment, etc…" Cohen tweeted.

Prosecutors have warned that Trump's failure to return classified material poses a potential national security risk that needs investigation, according to Reuters.

The documents can "provide an insight into what the US government knows about a threat or an adversary," which is sensitive information that should be protected, Ali said. 

During its Mar-a-Lago search, the FBI found 48 empty folders labeled as classified and another 42 which indicated they should be returned to a staff secretary or military aide. The Justice Department has suggested that there could be additional classified records that were removed from the White House that they have not yet located. 

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is a Trump appointee, granted his request for a special master and ordered prosecutors to pause reviewing recovered records until a special master is appointed to review the material. 

Some critics have called for the FBI to search other Trump properties for classified materials, but without enough evidence, investigators cannot obtain a warrant to conduct a search. 

By Areeba Shah

Areeba Shah is a staff writer at Salon covering news and politics. Previously, she was a research associate at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center, where she covered how COVID-19 impacted migrant farmworkers in the Midwest.

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