SECRET/SCI documents on floor near box with framed Time magazine cover

Trump supporters rally around claim FBI ‘staged’ photo of classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago

It’s the best excuse they’ve got.


Camryn Garza


A photo of the classified documents obtained at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida by the FBI was published yesterday by the government in a court filing. 

In response, supporters of Trump have taken to calling the image “staged.”

Some of the documents spread across the floor in Trump’s Florida home in the image are labeled “TOP SECRET” in bold letters. They are also sitting casually next to a box of old Time magazine issues, some of the alleged 100-plus documents Trump took with him when he left office. 

Earlier this month, the Justice Department and FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Florida estate over several boxes of classified information Trump still held onto, which according to the government pertained to national security. Trump’s possession of them potentially violated the Presidential Records Act. 

The photo was released as part of a 36-page response made by the DOJ on Tuesday to Trump’s request for “a special master” to review the stolen documents. 

Mocking the image, one Twitter user sarcastically tweeted, “These are so secret the DOJ threw them across the floor, staged a Time Magazine, took a picture and posted it on Twitter.” 

The joke ignores the fact that the images are censored by the government.

Others are calling the release “unprofessional,” urging the FBI to fire the agents responsible for releasing the photo. But most are using the claim that the photos were “staged” to discredit the release.

It’s commonplace for the FBI to photograph evidence collected in a raid, despite these right-wing protestations. It’s unclear if they were stored on the floor that way, or placed like that for the photo. But the argument the image was staged is somewhat irrelevant, given that the documents were clearly there. 

Others have gone on to claim the photo was illegally leaked by the FBI, which given it was a court filing, is impossible, as it was published in the public record. 

In the filing, the DOJ noted that they retrieved over 100 documents with “classification markings” that totaled over 700 pages and that many of these pages were labeled with the “highest levels of classification.” 

Via his Truth Social app, Trump joined his supporters in condemning the release of the photo, stating “Terrible the way the FBI, during the Raid of Mar-a-Lago, threw documents haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!).” 

The National Archives has been trying to obtain these documents for almost a year after Trump left office. Investigators are now focused on the possibility that Trump attempted to obstruct their initial investigation by relocating these documents to Mar-a-Lago.

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The Daily Dot