Did the FBI Miss a Hidden Room at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate?

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If you’re going to raid a former president’s compound looking for classified documents he allegedly pilfered from the White House, then attempted to conceal from authorities, it’s probably a good idea to search inside his locked closets and hidden rooms. But according to a new report from ABC News, FBI agents may have missed a few potential hiding places when they searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August of 2022. Per the report, before indicting Trump and two employees in the classified-documents case, special counsel Jack Smith’s team questioned witnesses about two apparently unsearched spaces in Trump’s Florida residence:

According to sources, some investigators involved in the case came to later believe that [a] closet, which was locked on the day of the search, should have been opened and checked. As investigators would later learn, Trump allegedly had the closet’s lock changed while his attorney was in Mar-a-Lago’s basement, searching for classified documents in a storage room that he was told would have all such documents. Trump’s alleged efforts to conceal classified documents from both the FBI and his own attorney are a key part of Smith’s indictment against Trump in Florida …

In addition to the closet, the FBI also didn’t search what authorities have called a “hidden room” connected to Trump’s bedroom, sources said. Smith’s investigators were later told that, in the days right after the search, some of Trump’s employees heard that the FBI had missed at least one room at Mar-a-Lago, the sources said.

Per the same sources, when the agents “couldn’t locate a key for [the closet] and were told the space behind the door — an old stairwell turned into a closet with shelves — went nowhere, so they decided not to break it open.”

And they said that the FBI agents weren’t made aware of the so-called hidden room until afterward:

Though agents searched Trump’s bedroom, a small door in one of the walls was concealed behind a large dresser and a big TV, sources said. The space behind the wall was the “hidden room,” which maintenance workers sporadically entered to access cables running through it, sources said.

But an unnamed senior FBI official who spoke with ABC News maintained that the search went according to plan:

Based on information gathered throughout the course of the investigation, areas were identified and searched pursuant to the search warrant … Discussions took place that day about additional areas of the property and it was determined that actions already taken met the parameters of the search warrant.

The report stresses that it’s not clear Trump ever stored any classified documents in the closet or the “hidden room” to begin with. The classified documents the agents did recover during the raid were found in Trump’s office and in a basement storage room. There were additional classified documents at Trump’s properties, however. A Trump attorney subsequently found some and handed them over to the Justice Department after conducting another search of the former president’s properties, including Mar-a-Lago.

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