Fourteen of the 15 boxes recovered from former US President Donald Trump‘s mansion in Mar-a-Lago, Florida contained classified documents, many of them top secret, mixed with newspapers, magazines and personal correspondenceaccording to an FBI affidavit released Friday.
According to court documents exposing the FBI’s justification for searching the billionaire’s property, no space in the mansion was authorized for the storage of classified material.
The 32-page affidavit, redacted to protect the safety of witnesses and that of the ongoing investigation, provides the most detailed description to date of government records being stored at Mar-a-Lago long after Trump left. the White House. It also reveals the White House‘s concerns about the content of the documents that were there illegally..
The document makes clear that the retention of the classified records and the apparent failure to safeguard them despite months of pleas from US officials, has exposed Trump to new legal danger just as he lays the groundwork for another potential presidential run in 2024.
“The government is conducting a criminal investigation related to the improper removal and custody of classified records in unauthorized spaces, as well as the illegal theft of top secret documents.”, wrote one of the FBI agent on the first page of the affidavit.
Documents that have been made public show that federal agents are investigating possible violations of multiple federal laws, including one that regulates the collection, transmission or loss of defense information under the Espionage Act.
Trump insists, despite the evidence presented by the Federal Police, that he has fully cooperated with government officials. He also asks the Republican party to support him in what he called a “politically motivated witch hunts aimed at damaging his re-election bids”.
Trump’s lawyers have made a new request that an independent magistrate be appointed to review the documents taken from the Mar-a-Lago mansion, saying the redacted affidavit does not give the former president enough information about why it took place. the search of your home or what materials were taken.
The affidavit makes no mention of the 11 classified records recovered during the Aug. 8 raid at Mar-a-Lago, but rather refers to a separate batch of 15 boxes that the National Archives and Records Administration recovered from the house in January.
The document shows that the Mar-a-Lago raid was necessary due to the highly sensitive material found in those 15 boxes.. Of the 184 documents with classified marks, 25 were at the top secret level. Some of the files had special markings that suggested they included information from highly sensitive human sources or the collection of authorized electronic “signals.” by a special intelligence court.
Douglas London, a former high-ranking CIA officer and author of “The Recruiter,” said this shows Trump’s lack of respect for controls. “One of the rules of classified material is that it is not mixed with unclassified material so that there are no errors or accidents.“, said.
Federal agents were authorized to search a wide swath of Mar-a-Lago, including Trump’s office after the presidency, warehouses and any other areas where boxes or documents might be stored. However, the search of areas adjacent to the property used or rented by members of that locality was not carried out.
The FBI filed the affidavit with a prosecutor in order to obtain a search warrant for Trump’s property. Affidavits often contain vital information about an investigation, with officers detailing the rationale for why they want to search a particular location and why they believe they are likely to find evidence of a possible crime there.
Documents often remain sealed during investigations. But Due to the public interest in the investigation, federal Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered Thursday that a version drafted of the affidavit before Friday.
In another document released Friday, Justice Department officials said that Some of the information needed to be redacted to “protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses, in addition to law enforcement personnel, as well as to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”
The second half of the affidavit is almost entirely redacted, making it impossible to discern the scope of the investigation or where it might be headed. It doesn’t reveal who might be under investigation and it doesn’t resolve fundamental questions, such as why top-secret documents were brought to Mar-a-Lago after President Trump’s term ended.
The text published Friday includes excerpts from a June 8 letter in which a Justice Department official reminded a Trump attorney that Mar-a-Lago did not include a licensed secure location to store classified records. The official asked that the room in the mansion where the documents had been kept be secured, and that the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago be kept in that room in their current state until further notice..
The document also provides insight into the arguments Trump’s legal team is expected to make in asserting that a president has “absolute authority to declassify documents and that presidential actions related to such documents are not subject to criminal sanctions.”
(With information from Associated Press)
The US released the documents that explain the decision to raid Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago
Raid on the residence of Donald Trump: the complete document released by the US justice