At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.
The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.
The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. And it could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the search warrant used to carry out the daylong search of the former president’s home on Monday. This extraordinary step generated political shock waves.
It also helps to explain further the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months in which it had tried to resolve the matter through discussions with Mr. Trump and his team.
An inventory of the material taken from Mr. Trump’s home that was released on Friday showed that F.B.I. agents had seized 11 sets of documents during the search with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility.
The search encompassed not just the storage area where boxes of material known to the Justice Department were being held but also Mr. Trump’s office and residence. The search warrant and inventory unsealed on Friday did not specify where the documents marked as classified in the Mar-a-Lago complex were found.
Trump said on Friday that he had declassified all the material in his possession while he was still in office. He did not provide any documentation that he had done so.
A spokesman for the former president, Taylor Budowich, said on Saturday, “Just like every Democrat-fabricated witch hunt previously, the water of this unprecedented and unnecessary raid is being carried by a media willing to run with suggestive leaks, anonymous sources, and no hard facts.”