By Evan Perez and Gabby Orr, CNN
The FBI interviewed former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his former deputy Patrick Philbin earlier this year as part of the investigation into federal records taken to Donald Trump’s Palm Beach home, two people briefed on the matter said.
The two are the most senior former Trump officials interviewed in what is now a criminal investigation of possible mishandling of classified information and obstruction. The two men are among a group of former Trump aides whom the FBI interviewed after the criminal probe got underway this spring, the people briefed on the matter said.
The New York Times earlier reported the interviews.
Cipollone and Philbin declined to comment to CNN for this story.
Cipollone and Philbin were designated by Trump shortly before he left office to deal with the issues related to his presidential records. The former President recently added Kash Patel, a former national security official in the Trump administration, and John Solomon, a pro-Trump writer, as designees on these matters.
The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from its search, including some materials marked as “top secret/SCI” — one of the highest levels of classification, according to documents from the search warrant that were released Friday.
The federal magistrate judge who approved the search warrant will hold a hearing Thursday at the court in Florida to discuss requests to unseal investigators’ probable cause affidavit, which the Justice Department has opposed releasing.
A federal judge on Friday unsealed the search warrant and property receipt from the FBI search of Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida, a move the Justice Department backed, but on Monday, the DOJ said it opposed releasing the affidavit specifically in an effort to protect witnesses and keep grand jury proceedings confidential.
In a pair of posts to Truth Social last week, Trump continued to claim that his attorneys were “cooperating fully” and had developed “very good relationships” with federal investigators prior to Monday’s search at Mar-a-Lago.
“The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it,” Trump said. “Everything was fine, better than most previous Presidents, and then, out of nowhere and with no warning, Mar-a-Lago was raided, at 6:30 in the morning, by VERY large numbers of agents, and even ‘safecrackers.'”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.