OOn Friday, the Justice Department released a Edited version of 38 pages from the affidavit used to obtain a warrant for the FBI to search the former president’s home amid public and press pressure.
Federal investigators previously searched Trump’s Florida estate on August 8 for records to be processed by the National Archives, during which they discovered 11 sets of classified documents. The Justice Department’s efforts to keep the document sealed were unsuccessful, forcing them to release a redacted affidavit that provided more clarity on probable cause to search Trump’s home.
Much of the document remains sealed “to protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses, in addition to law enforcement personnel, and to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” the DOJ said in its Memorandum of 14 pages.
Here’s what we know about the investigation so far:
What the redacted affidavit revealed
Authorities were forced to release a redacted affidavit after a Florida judge ruled it was in the public interest.
The redacted affidavit shows the FBI found probable cause that there was “evidence of obstruction” at Trump’s home.
Federal officials pointed to the 15 boxes that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) previously received from Trump in February as evidence that there may be more documents to be discovered. Those records included the president’s handwritten notes, and all but one of the boxes contained classified information, as more than half of the 184 documents were labeled “top secret” or “classified,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit also cites reports of moving trucks spotted at Trump’s Florida residence. Because several of the documents were misidentified and mixed with unclassified records, newspapers and others, federal authorities say it could put valuable information at risk.
There is currently no information on the contents of the documents, although the DOJ has noted that there are some records marked “NOFORN” meaning they cannot be shared with another government and “SI” indicating special intelligence obtained from a foreign communication.
What led to the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago?
The Presidential Archives Act requires that all documents created by presidents be turned over to NARA when their terms end.
Trump was supposed to turn over all of his records by January 2021. But NARA announced earlier this year that it was still in the process of recovering some of those documents, including records that have been broken.
In February NARA announced that they arranged for 15 boxes of presidential documents to be transported from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to the National Archives. But tensions between the agency and the former president remain high as The Washington Post reported days later, NARA asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Trump violated federal law in mishandling those documents.
The FBI visit to Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., property is part of that ongoing investigation, which Trump’s lawyers have been aware of since at least May. according to Politico.
A separate court filing that was unsealed Friday shows that on May 25, Evan Corcoran, Trump’s lawyer, wrote a letter to the judge who issued the search warrant, trying to dissuade the investigation from moving forward.
And despite Trump’s insistence that his presidential files were handed over in an “ordinary and routine process,” there was evidence of disagreements between authorities and the former president, as a June 3 meeting between the DOJ, Trump and his lawyers at his Florida estate led to high tensions after officials determined that the records were not securely sealed.
What was the response from Trump and his supporters?
Trump and his conservative supporters opposed the search of his home, saying it was all part of a political scheme by the Biden administration to prevent him from running again in 2024. In an emailed statement, his political committee, Save America”, Trump called the moment “a dark moment for our nation.”
Political allies such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, tweeted that the Justice Department had “reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” adding that “When Republicans take back the House, [they] will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts and leave nothing unturned.”
And while Trump supporters are calling for the FBI to be abolished online, others have written more serious threats against the authorities. On August 12, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning about a surge in threats of violence against federal agents, with some calling for a “civil war.”” against these agencies. Some Trump supporters also posted personal addresses and relatives of the agent on social media, and there were reports of a gunman from Ohio trying to enter an FBI office in Cincinnati.
But despite these attacks, the claim that this investigation is politically motivated has no support. The White House said it had “no notice of the reported action” and the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump in 2017having previously served under Republican leadership.
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