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Trump’s lawyers couldn’t find the Bedminster document. Now we know why.

I, for one, would love to know the backstory on how this document finally turned up in special counsel Jack Smith's possession.

One of the new charges against Donald Trump in the classified documents case adds onto the 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information” that he’d already been hit with.

Specifically, he’s now charged with holding onto the document he’d been waving around in the now-infamous Bedminster meeting in 2021. Helpfully, that’s made obvious in the text of the newly released charging document: “The document that TRUMP possessed and showed on July 21, 2021, is charged as Count 32 in this Superseding Indictment.”

Interestingly, the counts against Trump related to his keeping the classified documents all list the “dates of the offense,” or when the alleged crime took place. All of those dates begin with Jan. 21, 2021, the day Trump left office; many of them give Aug. 8, 2022, the day of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, as the end date. All the rest of the original charges list June 3, 2022, when the supposedly “complete” set of documents were returned under subpoena. But this newest charge lists the date as January 17, 2022 — the day that Trump originally returned 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives.

That suggests Trump had handed it back in prior to the original Justice Department investigation and before the subpoenas had begun flowing in. It also seems to imply that the DOJ may have had it this whole time, despite having issued a subpoena to Trump’s attorneys to fork it over earlier this year. Trump’s lawyers said in mid-March that they couldn’t find it — which makes sense considering they didn’t actually have it at the time. 

Another thing to keep in mind, as my colleague Lisa Rubin pointed out in our live blog coverage of the superseding indictment:

Recall the superseding indictment states unambiguously that Count 32 concerns the document Trump showed at Bedminster. That means, to my mind, that at least one of the participants in that meeting — the writer or publisher of Meadows’s book, Margo Martin, and/or Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington — must have been shown the document and confirmed that it was the document Trump displayed to them that day.

I, for one, would love to know the backstory on how that document finally turned up. But the fact that it was among the Mar-a-Lago documents means that it eventually made its way back from New Jersey to Florida, leaving special counsel Jack Smith able to add it to the charges he’d already filed against Trump in South Florida.