On Monday, FBI agents removed 11 sets of classified documents — including some marked top secret and intended to be available only at special government facilities — from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The detailed list of items extracted from the property, which was released on Friday at the request of the Department of Justice with the accompanying warrant, includes a set of documents marked “Miscellaneous Classified Documents/TS/SCI”, which is an abbreviation that refers to compartmentalized top-secret/sensitive information. In addition, officers recovered four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents, according to new public information.
The list, released Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart along with the text of the warrant, does not include details about the purpose of the documents.
According to the search warrant, the alleged crimes under investigation are violations of the Espionage Act, which prohibits the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary; a federal law that makes it an offense to destroy or conceal a record for the purpose of obstructing a government investigation; and another law associated with the illegal removal of government documents.
Penalties and fines in the event of conviction are assessed according to the number of documents concealed or destroyed.
Atti. Gen. Merrick Garland announced Thursday that the The Department of Justice would seek to unseal the warrant and detailed receipt of what was removed from the property after Trump disclosed the search and his attorneys provided reporters with details of what the FBI was looking for. Reinhart gave the Justice Department until 3 p.m. Eastern Time to speak with Trump’s lawyers and let the court know if he planned to challenge the unsealing of the documents. Trump said Thursday night on his Truth Social network that he supports unsealing the mandate.
In the 20 boxes removed in Monday’s search were binders of photos, a handwritten note, a clemency agreement from the executive for conservative provocateur Roger Stone and information about the ‘president of France’ .
The warrant authorized officers to search “office 45” and “storage rooms and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available for use by [the former president] and its staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all the constructions or buildings of the estate”.
Officers were instructed in the warrant to take not only any classified information they found, but also the containers or boxes – including any other contents – in which the materials were located and any other containers or boxes nearby. . They were also instructed to seek communications in any form regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified documents, as well as any evidence that presidential records or classified documents have been knowingly altered, destroyed or concealed.
Under the Presidential Archives Act 1978, presidential archives are supposed to be turned over to the National Archives when a president leaves office. The archives had already recovered more than 15 boxes of material that had been incorrectly transported to Mar-A-Lago.
The unprecedented, court-approved search of a former president’s home by the FBI, which Trump called a “raid,” sparked a firestorm of criticism from Trump and his Republican allies, who accused the Justice Department of a “witch hunt” and demanded more information from senior officials about why it happened. That continued Friday with Republicans on Capitol Hill saying they needed to see the underlying affidavit used to justify the search, which would not normally become public unless charges are filed.
Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) told reporters Friday that the release of the warrant and inventory would still leave “questions unanswered.”
“We are very concerned about the method that was used to attack Mar-a-Lago,” he said, citing the length of the search day.
Several news outlets reported Thursday that the Justice Department had already used subpoenas and other “less intrusive” means to retrieve documents this spring, but requested the search warrant because it believed Trump still possessed confidential or top secret documents at Mar-A-Lago, including some related to nuclear programs.
In a Truth Social post on Friday morning, Trump suggested without any evidence that all recovered nuclear documents were planted by the FBI during their search of Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.
In a separate post, he said the documents seized by agents from his Florida club were “all declassified” and said he would have turned over the documents to the Justice Department if asked.
“They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-A-Lago,” he said.
While presidents have the power to declassify documents, Trump has failed to demonstrate that he has followed normal notification procedures, which help national security officials know who is allowed to see what information, while in office. . Now that he is no longer president, Trump no longer has that authority. In the end, it may not matter – the three laws under which he is being investigated do not distinguish between classified and unclassified information.
In that same article, I argued that former President Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, some of which were classified.
The National Archives and Records Administration noted in a statement that the records are held by the National Archives for the Obama Presidential Library.
Monday’s search results could potentially affect Trump’s other legal troubles, including the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into the former president’s attempts to use fake voter lists to convince lawmakers. to annul the 2020 elections in his favour.
All of the contents of the 20 boxes of material removed from the estate on Monday are unlikely to be classified. Some of the boxes could contain memorabilia and personal letters that Trump wanted to keep – which other former presidents have done – but some of the documents could also be personally, politically or legally damaging.
Now that the documents are back in government possession, Trump has no say in how they are used, including against him in court, former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani said.
“If there’s anything in there that can be evidence of another crime, it’s fair game,” Rahmani said.