At some point, after National Archives officials realized they had no Trump White House documents, which must be preserved under the Presidential Records Act, they reached out to Mr. Philbin for assistance in returning them.
More coverage of the FBI search into Trump’s home
A spokesman for Mr Philbin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Philbin was trying to help the National Archives recover the material, two of those familiar with the discussions said. But the former president repeatedly withstood pleas from his advisers.
“It’s not theirs, it’s mine,” several advisers tell them.
Among the items in the boxes packed from the White House residence when Mr. Trump left was Mr. Trump’s correspondence with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, as well as a letter to Mr. Trump from the former President Barack Obama when Mr. Trump Obama left the White House.
But there were also all kinds of other documents that traveled to Mar-a-Lago.
The former president returned 15 boxes of material to the National Archives in January, but the Justice Department issued a subpoena in May for documents he said were still in his club. On June 3, counterintelligence officers from the Justice Department’s National Security Branch went to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the remaining documents with secret markings.