Last Updated on August 17, 2022
On August 16, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times published an article that names three Trump officials who were contacted by FBI investigators looking into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. Citing “three people familiar with the matter,” Haberman — who rose to prominence as a result of her reporting on the bogus Russian collusion investigation — alleged that Trump’s White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy Patrick Philbin were interviewed by the FBI in connection with boxes of sensitive documents stored at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago property in Florida. Agents ultimately confiscated multiple boxes of documents, among other items.
Both Cipollone and Philbin were previously sent to the National Archives as the former president’s representatives. Philbin was reportedly questioned this past spring about how 15 boxes of material ended up at Mar-A-Lago. National Archives officials reportedly contacted Philbin in hopes of locating a number of documents in Trump’s possession. Philbin tried to return the documents but was unsuccessful, the New York Times reported.
Trump’s correspondence with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and a letter to Trump from former President Barack Obama (written on Obama’s way out of office) were among the items reportedly sought by the National Archives that ended up at Mar-a-Lago, Haberman’s article continued.
Investigators sought Philbin and Cipollone for questioning after the National Archives referred the matter to the DOJ. Haberman noted that the two men were among eight individuals in total who were contacted by the FBI in connection with the National Archives matter. She also named former White House staff secretary Derek Lyons as another person interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation.
The Department of Justice has requested that the affidavit which led to the search warrant for Trump’s property remain sealed. “Disclosure at this juncture of the affidavit supporting probable cause would … cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation,” read’s the DOJ’s August 15 omnibus response to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The filing, which was written by U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and chief at the DOJ’s counterintelligence and export control section Jay Bratt, claimed that the affidavit contains “highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government.”
Judge Bruce Reinhart has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, August 18, in order to determine whether the affidavit will remain sealed or be disclosed.