Former US President Donald Trump may have concealed documents during an FBI search of his property in June, Department of Justice officials say.
In a court filing, the department said “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation”.
They alleged agents were “explicitly prohibited” from searching a storage box at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion.
Other records were likely “concealed and removed” from a storage room, the officials said.
US presidents must transfer all of their documents and emails to a government agency called the National Archive – and the FBI is investigating whether Mr Trump improperly handled records by taking them from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after he left office in January 2021.
He has denied any wrongdoing and said the items were declassified.
Mr Trump had been suing for a detailed list of exactly what was taken from his estate, and is asking for the government to return any item which was not in the scope of the search warrant.
His lawyers had also asked that a “neutral” third-party attorney – known as a special master – be brought in to determine whether the seized files are covered by executive privilege, which allows presidents to keep certain communications under wraps.
Special masters are normally appointed in criminal cases where there are concerns that some evidence may be protected under attorney-client privilege, or other protections that could make it inadmissible in court.
The latest court filings made by the Department of Justice on Tuesday are in response to Mr Trump’s lawsuit.