FBI Searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago National Defense Documents, Affidavit Shows

FBI Searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago National Defense Documents, Affidavit Shows

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The FBI believed there was probable cause for highly classified documents containing U.S. national defense information to be scattered around Donald Trump’s Florida resort, according to a partially redacted statement used to justify the search of the unsealed property on Friday. fair.

The statement — largely redacted by the justice department to protect details about the criminal investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government secrets — also provided additional new details about the materials he had withheld at Mar-a-Lago.

According to the redacted statement, the FBI sought to retrieve national defense information from several rooms at Trump’s resort, including his residence, the lobby of his residence known as Pine Hall, his office, as well as a storage area, among other locations. .

The exact basis for the FBI’s suspicion was unclear, and vast passages of testimony that appeared to indicate how the justice department had this knowledge were blocked from revealing the “roadmap” of an investigation that remains in the early stages, officials said.

But in an unedited portion of the statement, the FBI agent at the Washington DC field office who produced the document indicated that the agency suspected crimes were being committed at Mar-a-Lago.

“I assume there is probable cause to believe that evidence, contraband, proceeds of crime or other illegally possessed items … will be found at the FACILITY,” the agent stated in the document.

The statement also outlined the FBI’s alarm at what the National Archives had obtained from Trump in the months leading up to the Mar-a-Lago search two weeks ago, and how the documents recovered in 15 boxes contained some of the most confidential material in existence.

The document states that the court found that a preliminary analysis of the 15 boxes taken to Mar-a-Lago “indicated that they contained ‘newspapers, magazines, printed news, photos, various forms, notes, presidential correspondence, personal documents and post-presidential records. and ‘too many confidential records’.

“The most significant concern was that the highly confidential records were unfolded, mixed with other records and otherwise inappropriately [sic] identified,” he warned.

The order to open the document came from Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the warrant and is overseeing the case in West Palm Beach, Florida. He instructed the justice department to file the redacted statement he had reviewed in the public bulletin before noon, leading to a tense and breathless wait for many observers in the political and media world.

In an earlier two-page ruling, the judge said the wordings proposed by the justice department were tailored to keep the grand jury material, the identities of unaccused individuals, and the sources and methods used in the investigation secret. criminal – and the rest can be made public.

“The government has fulfilled its burden of showing that its proposed wordings are strictly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing all testimony,” Reinhart wrote.

The affidavit contains important information—notably probable cause—about the Department of Justice’s investigation into the unauthorized retention of government secrets at Mar-a-Lago, which, according to the warrant, could constitute violations of at least three statutes. criminals.

The imminent partial release of the testimony is expected to be an important moment in the ongoing investigation, led by the Department of Justice’s national security division and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who personally approved the warrant after days of deliberations.

Exactly how much of the statement will be worded is unclear, but is expected to be extensive. The justice department originally objected to opening the affidavit and only submitted a redacted version after being forced by Reinhart last week.

But depending on how the statement was produced, several former US attorneys said, it could also contain elements that are not directly related to the investigation, such as descriptions of possible crimes the justice department suspects are being committed in Mar-a- Lake.

The former president has indicated on his social media website that he supports opening the deposition, but his lawyers never filed a formal motion to that effect and instead left the effort to a media coalition that pressed for deposition. become public.

Trump has since filed a separate motion that a so-called special master be appointed to determine what seized materials prosecutors can use as evidence in the investigation and to force the justice department to provide a more detailed list of what was recovered by the FBI.

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