A redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s estate Mar-a-Lago was made public by the Justice Department.
Despite the DOJ’s objections, a federal judge had ordered the release of the crucial document because it contained highly sensitive information about the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump.
According to the affidavit, the government had reason to believe that a search of Donald Trump’s resort home in Palm Beach, Florida, would turn up proof of illegal activity.
A heavily redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s estate Mar-a-Lago was made public by the Justice Department on Friday.
According to an agent who wrote the 32-page affidavit, the FBI had reason to believe that documents containing sensitive national defence information would be discovered at the Palm Beach, Florida, home.
An unredacted section of the affidavit stated, “There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found” at Trump’s residence.
The DOJ objected to the release of the crucial document because it contained highly sensitive information about the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump. However, a federal judge overruled the DOJ and ordered its release. One day before the affidavit was made public, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart accepted the DOJ’s suggested redactions.
The first line of the affidavit was written by an FBI agent whose name was obscured: “The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unapproved locations, as well as the unlawful concealment and removal of government records.”
After that, the agent claimed that the investigation was started as a result of a referral from the National Archives and Records Administration in February, following NARA’s receipt of 15 boxes of records from Trump’s Florida mansion. When a president leaves office, all presidential records are required by law to be transferred to the National Archives.
The FBI discovered records pertaining to national defense information in those boxes, which had been kept at Mar-a-Lago in an unsecured location and carried classification markings.
According to the affidavit, the 15 boxes contained 184 specific documents that were classified, 67 of which were marked “confidential,” 92 of which were marked “secret,” and 25 of which were marked “top secret.”
According to this investigation, the agent concluded that no areas of the PREMISES had been approved for the storage of classified information, at least not since January 20, 2021, when the FPOTUS’s presidential administration ended.
The affidavit’s 32 pages are blacked out on 21 of them almost entirely or significantly.
Less than a week after the raid on August 8, the DOJ voluntarily disclosed the search warrant in its entirety. According to the warrant, FBI agents were looking for evidence of transgressions of the U.S. Espionage Act as well as laws prohibiting the removal of official records and obstruction of justice.
According to a property receipt that the DOJ also made public, the FBI took at least 20 boxes of items during the August raid, including numerous sets of highly classified documents.
After the redacted affidavit was made public, Trump accused the FBI and DOJ of “public relations subterfuge” because the word “Nuclear” was missing from the document, despite the fact that it had been “heavily redacted!!!” on social media. The specific content of the documents that the affidavit expected to find was not specified.
Trump also criticized Reinhart, claiming that since he had previously recused himself from a case involving Trump, he should have done the same here. According to news outlets, the reason for that recusal was unclear, but Trump insisted it was “based on his animosity and hatred of your favorite President, me.”
The government argued last week against releasing the affidavit, even in a redacted form.
Jay Bratt, head of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division, stated in a court document that the redactions required to protect the investigation’s integrity would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text meaningless.
If made public, the affidavit, according to Bratt, “would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation.”
Reinhart disagreed and commanded the government to submit redaction requests by Thursday to the U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Florida. Later that day, the judge approved the DOJ’s redactions.
The Mar-a-Lago raid is a part of an investigation that “implicates national security,” according to the government, which stated last week that it is still in its “early stages.”
Trump, who made public the FBI search of his Florida home, has painted himself as the victim of a political smear campaign against the presumed front-runner of the Republican Party for the 2024 presidential nomination by the Biden administration.
The former president filed a lawsuit against the government on Monday, requesting that a federal judge halt the DOJ’s investigation into the Mar-a-Lago documents until an impartial third party has had a chance to examine them.
“The political Hacks and Thugs had no right under the Presidential Records Act to storm Mar-a-Lago and steal everything in sight, including Passports and privileged documents,” Trump said in a social media post earlier Friday morning.
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