Donald Trump’s Hurricane Sharpie Map Among Documents in Jack Smith Filing

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The National Archives sought the return of a map, apparently altered with black marker, that Donald Trump used in 2019 to support claims he had previously made about Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory, the latest filing in the former president’s classified documents case shows.

An archivist from the National Archives and Records Administration emailed colleagues to complain that he was “out of patience” with Trump while seeking the return of the documents, according to the latest filing by special counsel Jack Smith.

In 2023, the Justice Department charged Trump with 40 counts in Florida, including 32 counts of willful retention of national defense information and other charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record and corruptly concealing a document or record. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, as he has in his three other criminal cases.

President Donald Trump shows a map to reporters following a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian at the White House September 04, 2019. The map, which appeared to have been altered by a black marker,…


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After Trump left the White House in January 2021, missing records “included several prominent documents, such as the letter that former President Obama had left for President Trump in the Resolute Desk; the letters Trump received from North Korean President Kim Jong-Un; and a poster board showing the path of Hurricane Dorian that Trump had used during a televised briefing,” Smith’s filing states.

In September 2019, then President Trump warned that the approaching Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama. “In addition to Florida—South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!” he wrote.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, later that day tweeted that the state would not be see any impacts from Hurricane Dorian. In a briefing at the White House on September 4, Trump showed a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather map to reporters which included a bubble drawn in black sharpie marker, basically extending the hurricane’s path and thus including part of Alabama in its trajectory.

Trump’s presentation was met with jokes from late-night talk show hosts and became an internet meme known as sharpiegate. The hurricane did not hit Alabama.

Trump eventually returned 15 boxes of items, including the map, in January 2022.

Newsweek sought email comment on Monday from Donald Trump’s attorney.

On Friday night, Smith filed his 67-page response to Trump and his co-defendants Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira’s motion for additional discovery. He also responded to Trump’s accusations that the case was politically motivated.

In the court filing, Smith complained that Trump’s lawyers “rely on a pervasively false narrative of the investigation’s origins. Their apparent aim is to cast a cloud of suspicion over responsible actions by government officials diligently doing their jobs.”

“The defendants’ insinuations have scant factual or legal relevance to their discovery requests, but they should not stand uncorrected,” he added.

Smith said that the documents Trump took from the White House “included a trove of highly classified documents containing some of the nation’s most sensitive information.”

“The law required that those documents be collected. And the record establishes that the relevant government officials performed their tasks with professionalism and patience in the face of unprecedented defiance,” he also wrote in his submission.

Federal prosecutors argued that some classified information should be withheld from former President Trump during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, January 31, with Aileen Cannon, a federal judge in Florida who is overseeing the classified documents trial.

The trial in the classified documents case is set to begin on May 20, but appeals based on Trump’s disclosure arguments could delay it.