DOJ Releases Redacted Affidavit Used to Obtain Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant
The 32-page document outlines the probable cause used to justify the search of Mar-a-Lago for the seizure of classified materials and evidence of obstruction.
Federal investigators obtained a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month by pointing to a raft of highly classified material they’d already obtained from there, according to a legal affidavit unsealed Friday, reports Politico.
Excerpt from Politico: Records the FBI obtained from Trump’s Florida home in advance of the Aug. 8 search bore indications they contained human source intelligence, intercepts under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and signals intelligence, as well as other tags indicating high sensitivity. Several of those tightly-controlled documents contained Trump’s "handwritten notes," the partially-redacted affidavit detailing the Justice Department investigation says. In those boxes, agents found 184 unique documents, 25 of which were marked "top secret," 92 of which were marked "secret," and 67 of which were marked "confidential"–the lowest level of national security classification. According to the affidavit, NARA officials found some of those "highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly identified." Prosecutors also added in another court filing unsealed Friday that the ongoing criminal probe into government records stashed at Trump’s Florida home has involved "a significant number of civilian witnesses" whose safety could be jeopardized if their identities were revealed.
According to the Associated Press, fourteen of the 15 boxes recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate early this year contained classified documents, many of them top secret, mixed in with miscellaneous newspapers, magazines and personal correspondence, according to an FBI affidavit released Friday.
"The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records," an FBI agent wrote on the first page of the affidavit in seeking a judge’s permission for a warrant to search the property.
Excerpt from the Associated Press: No space at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was authorized for the storage of classified material, according to the court papers, which laid out the FBI’s rationale for searching the property this month, including "probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found." The 32-page affidavit — heavily redacted to protect the safety of witnesses and law enforcement officials and "the integrity of the ongoing investigation" — offers the most detailed description to date of the government records being stored at Mar-a-Lago long after Trump left the White House. It also reveals the gravity of the government’s concerns that the documents were there illegally. The document makes clear how the haphazard retention of top secret government records, and the failure to return them despite months of efforts by U.S. officials to get them back, has exposed Trump to fresh legal peril just as he lays the groundwork for another potential presidential run in 2024.
In a related story, a federal judge in Florida has asked former President Trump to clarify what precisely he's seeking after he filed a lawsuit aimed at limiting the Justice Department's review of records seized from Mar-a-Lago, writes Axios.
Excerpt from Axios: The brief order from U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, asks Trump to answer by Friday questions including why the court has jurisdiction over the dispute and what "precise relief" he seeks. Cannon's questions appear to align with criticism from some legal observers who say the suit is convoluted and fails to ask substantial legal questions. Trump filed the lawsuit Monday to seek the appointment of a special master who would review the materials seized during the FBI's search, which revealed that Trump had taken classified material from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. He also asked the federal court to bar the FBI from examining the documents until a special master is appointed, citing Fourth Amendment rights. A special master, usually a third party like a retired judge, would review the material and determine whether it is protected by attorney-client privilege or other legal doctrines.