Legal experts were stunned on Wednesday when Donald Trump took to his Truth Social website and essentially admitted his guilt hours before his lawyers had a deadline to respond to the bombshell, late-night DOJ filing.
At question was a photo taken by FBI agents showing documents with classification markings on cover sheets.
"The folders were arrayed by agents at Mar-a-Lago after being removed from what the filing indicated was Mr. Trump’s office — they were not discovered scattered on the floor, according to two federal law enforcement officials," The New York Times reported. "Files or documents are not tossed around randomly, even though they might appear that way; they are usually splayed out so they can be separately identified by their markings. The ruler seen in the image is to give a sense of their size in relation to other objects."
The newspaper reported "the genesis of the photograph appears to be in keeping with standard protocols for how federal agents handle evidence they come across in a search."
But Trump offered his own thoughts on Truth Social.
"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. Wrong! They took them out of cartons and spread them around on the carpet, making it look like a big 'find' for them," Trump posted. "They dropped them, not me - very deceiving."
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times noted, "Trump has moved off suggesting things were planted and now says documents were 'in cartons' at his house/club…which he says even though his lawyer signed a document asserting all material was in the storage area and went back, per DOJ."
Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post described it as, "They took out the documents that our lawyers said we didn't have and took pictures of them."
Trump's post shocked legal experts.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti tweeted, "Trump's admission that the classified material was 'in cartons' at his residence is evidence of his guilt."
It would be like a defendant taking issue with a FBI photo showing bricks of cocaine on the floor of his residence instead of 'in cartons.' It admits possession," Mariotti explained.
Former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissman said, "Trump is a criminal defense lawyer's nightmare."
"His uninhibited mouthing off is actually serving to make the criminal case against him stronger," Weissman wrote.