The photo was included in a DOJ filing submitted late Tuesday that opposed former President Donald Trump’s request for an independent review of the documents the FBI seized from his estate earlier this month.
The photo, which showed several redacted documents and others that were marked “TOP SECRET,” quickly made its way to social media after the DOJ submitted its filing to Federal Judge Aileen M. Cannon.
“DOJ wins daily PR battle with photo of classified documents strewn across floor at Mar-a-Lago,” Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York noted. “Story is Trump alleged mis-handling of classified documents, and just look at them — scattered all over the floor! Can you believe it?”
York then shared a screenshot of a tweet from verified user Cheri Jacobus who posted the DOJ photo and said, “This is how Trump stored Top Secret material he stole.”
Developing Story - Trump administration oversaw a RADICAL change to the tech world… one that could unleash a huge wave prosperity… and wealth creation in the near future. Find Out More
Trump’s allies quickly blasted the FBI for including the photo that left some Democrats under the impression that Trump kept the documents scattered across the floor.
“FBI photo of documents strewn on floor implies Trump behaved carelessly with government documents,” New York Post columnist Betsy McCaughey tweeted. “In fact it’s the FBI that placed the documents on the floor for a staged photo. You too could be the victim of this kind of dishonest ‘law enforcement.’ Be warned. #FBI”
“I love staged photo ops,” Trump’s attorney Alina Habba told Charlie Kirk on Wednesday. “I mean, it’s amazing how they specifically placed in response.” She added:
But they’re arguing that everything is too sensitive, so we can’t have a special master. It was top secret, but they can put exhibit F, which is the picture of all the top secret documents laid out strategically on the floor and that’s not a problem. It’s a typical ‘we are trying to backup our story because we don’t have one image’ is my perspective of that.
Kash Patel, a former top Trump administration official who was named in the highly redacted Mar-a-Lago search warrant affidavit, also said the FBI “staged” the photo of the documents.
“So first of all, it is staged. I wasn’t there. I don’t know if that’s how they found them, but I doubt it. And those red and yellow things that you see on the floor cover sheets, those aren’t classified,” Patel told Benny Johnson on Wednesday.
“And all I see is this raid continuing to backfire because it’s not being run by law Enforcement, it’s being run by government gangsters, like [FBI Director] Chris Wray, and [Attorney General] Merrick Garland,” Patel said.
He also said the government officials involved in the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago are connected to the officials who were involved in the Russia collusion hoax.
“Now these guys know they were on the precipice of releasing the other Russia gate documents that Devin and I could not release that Donald Trump declassified and what do they do?” Patel said. “They go raid Mar Lago and say ,’Uh! Can’t see anything anymore. We have an open investigation.'”
Richard Grenell pointed out the photographed document were declassified by Trump and noted the comparison between Trump’s handling of documents and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“It was all declassified papers (not accessible digitally) and kept in a former President’s office – guarded by the United States Secret Service,” Grenell tweeted. “Hillary was never President, her documents were never declassified and were all available digitally ONLINE for hackers.”
Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who chaired the House Oversight Committee, called the FBI’s photograph “a public relations effort.”
“Well, the impression I got is that it was a public relations effort. This is not needed in a court document to make the case to the sitting judge,” Chaffetz said during an appearance on Fox News. “This was put out there knowing that they were gonna go out there to the media.”
“The idea that they spread them out across the floor and started taking pictures of them does not instill confidence in how we’re supposed to do justice,” Chaffetz added.
Townhall contributor Chris Stigall accused the DOJ of creating a “propaganda photo.”
“The DOJ created a propaganda photo. Why couldn’t Trump’s lawyers be present if the DOJ was going to create photo shoots and publish documents all over the internet? If we can see these documents, why couldn’t Trump’s attorneys?” Stigall tweeted.
Others speculated that the federal government’s investigation into Trump is a political ploy to keep Trump’s name in the headlines to benefit vulnerable Democrats going into an uphill battle this November with midterm elections.
“I still think it’s just a tactic to put Trump back at the center of the news to help Dem election prospects,” tweeted The American Conservative cofounder Scott McConnell.
Trump even chimed in on the FBI’s photoshoot of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. Trump said:
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!), and then started taking pictures of them for the public to see. Thought they wanted them kept Secret? Lucky I Declassified!
He also combatted the Democrat narrative that he left the documents scattered across the floor.
“There seems to be confusion as to the ‘picture’ where documents were sloppily thrown on the floor and then released photographically for the world to see, as if that’s what the FBI found when they broke into my home,” Trump said.
“Wrong! They took them out of cartons and spread them around on the carpet, making it look like a big ‘find’ for them,” Trump continued. “They dropped them, not me – Very deceiving…And remember, we could have NO representative, including lawyers, present during the Raid. They were told to wait outside.”