Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Donald Trump speaks on the phone

Then-President Donald Trump spoke on the phone in the White House on January 28, 2017. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'Where Did the Classified Content Go?' Dozens of Empty Folders Seized From Trump Home

"The only thing more concerning than finding classified documents in Donald Trump's possession is finding the folders used to conceal classified documents empty and in Donald Trump's possession."

Jake Johnson

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday released an inventory of items seized from former President Donald Trump's Florida home last month, and one aspect of the newly disclosed document raised eyebrows and many questions: Namely, the listing of dozens of empty folders marked as "classified."

"Where did the classified content go?" asked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), voicing a sentiment also expressed by reporters and watchdogs in response to the inventory, which indicates that the FBI retrieved from Mar-a-Lago 18 documents marked "top secret," 54 marked "secret," and 48 empty folders with "classified" banners.

The document, which was ordered unsealed by a federal judge, also lists dozens of additional empty folders labeled as "return to staff secretary/military aide."

The inventory offers no specific details on what the empty folders were supposed to contain, leaving observers to speculate on the sensitivity of the documents and where they may have ended up as the DOJ continues to investigate the former president's removal of classified documents from the White House.

"The only thing more concerning than finding classified documents in Donald Trump's possession is finding the folders used to conceal classified documents empty and in Donald Trump's possession," tweeted Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.). "This information must be accounted for—all of it."

The Associated Press noted Friday that "the Justice Department has said there was no secure space at Mar-a-Lago for sensitive government secrets, and has opened a criminal investigation focused on their retention there and on what it says were efforts in the last several months to obstruct that probe."

Earlier this week, the DOJ released a photo of classified documents that federal agents seized from Trump's home during an August 8 raid. Previous reporting has indicated that classified nuclear weapons documents were among the files FBI officials were trying to recover in the Mar-a-Lago raid.

The Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday that it "developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed" from a Mar-a-Lago storage room as investigators attempted to retrieve them, possibly further implicating Trump's team and the former president himself in a criminal scheme to obstruct justice.

In a status report unsealed Friday, the DOJ said that "the seized materials will continue to be used to further the government's investigation, and the investigative team will continue to use and evaluate the seized materials as it takes further investigative steps, such as through additional witness interviews and grand jury practice."

"All evidence pertaining to the seized items—including, but not limited to, the nature and manner in which they were stored as well as any evidence with respect to particular documents or items of interest—will inform the government's investigation," the report reads.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·


Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·


Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo