White House docs were stored in Trump's personal Mar-a-Lago suite: report
President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago New Year's Eve Party (Photo: Screen capture)

In his carefully-crafted statement confirming the National Archives (NARA) was forced to transport 15 cartons of White House documents and other items from Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump claimed discussions had been "collaborative and respectful" and the "papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis."

A CNN report published Friday evening reveals that's false.

The National Archives had noticed items belonging to the federal government were missing last year in May. They went to work, contacting various people to try to get control of the documents and other items, which we know now included classified and even top-secret national security documents.

"In a series of interviews with CNN, a half-dozen people familiar with the matter described a tense situation that took nearly eight months to resolve -- beginning with NARA's outreach in May and ending with its retrieval of the boxes from Mar-a-Lago last month," CNN reports.

"In the end," CNN reveals, "it may have been a threat that ended the impasse. At one point, the Archives notified a member of Trump's team that it planned to alert Congress and the Department of Justice of the matter if it wasn't quickly resolved, according to a person familiar with the warning. According to a person familiar with the matter, the Archives have since asked the Justice Department to investigate. It is unclear whether the Justice Department has started an investigation."

Also startling, CNN reports "a top official in the former President's orbit warned his aides last fall: Do not touch those boxes" that "were being stored at the time in Trump's personal suite at his Florida" Mar-a-Lago club.

"The senior official in Trump's inner circle did not want to risk exposing sensitive materials to aides who may have lacked the appropriate security clearances," apparently meaning classified documents were sitting, at least somewhat accessible, in Trump's rooms.