FBI took 11 classified sets from Trump's Mar-a-Lago property while probing Espionage Act offences

Published on August 14, 2022 11:28 AM by FactsWOW Team

The Justice Department

According to court documents unsealed Friday, the Justice Department removed 11 sets of sensitive documents from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property this week.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago home

Some of the items discovered from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home were labelled "top secret/SCI," one of the highest classifications. The Justice Department is investigating violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and unlawful management of government records. The inclusion of the offences means the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate those charges. At this point, no one is charged.

"Top secret/SCI"

The warrant receipt didn't explain the subject of these sensitive documents but noted that federal investigators confiscated one designated "top secret/SCI."

Court filings show agents stole four "top secret," three "secret," and three "confidential" documents. The unsealed order says the FBI acquired more than 20 boxes, photos, secret papers, and a handwritten note. CNN got the warrant before its unsealing by a federal judge. The moment caps a week that began with a search for national security proof.

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FBI searched Trump's home

While specifics on the documents themselves remain sketchy, the statutes listed in the request shed light on what the FBI was seeking for when it raided Trump's residence, an extraordinary move that has drawn a firestorm of criticism from the former President's closest associates. The search warrant was made public on Friday, and it cites several statutes that apply to "destroying or hiding documents to obstruct government investigations" and the unauthorised removal of government records. One of these is the Espionage Act, which prohibits the "retrieval, storage, or communication of national security intelligence or classified material."

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Criminal laws cited in the warrant

The three federal criminal statutes referenced in the warrant are all found in Chapter 18. None of them are predicated exclusively on whether or not a piece of data was considered unclassified. According to the property receipt, a memo concerning pardoning Roger Stone, a prominent Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its examination of Russian intervention in the 2016 election, was among the less sensitive materials stolen from Trump's resort. (Before leaving office, Trump pardoned Stone, sparing him a three-year prison sentence.) The relevance of the Stone-related paper discovered during the search to the larger criminal investigation into Trump's possible mishandling of secret data is unclear. According to the warrant document, FBI agents also located evidence related to the "President of France." On Friday, the French embassy in Washington DC chose not to comment on the latest events.

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The court documents

The court records published Friday disclose fresh details about the search itself and suggest that FBI agents were only allowed access to specified spots within Mar-a-Lago. The judge allowed the FBI to search the "45 Office," a reference to Trump's role as 45th president. "All other rooms or places" at Mar-a-Lago where Trump and his crew stored boxes and documents were also searched.

'45 Office,' and all storage rooms

"The locations to be searched include the '45 Office,' all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas utilised or available to be used by FPOTUS and his employees and in which boxes or documents could be stored," the warrant adds. The FBI's warrant application to the judge claimed agents would avoid rented or used facilities "like Mar-a-Lago members" and "private guest apartments." Trump's enormous estate is his principal house, club, and resort. In their application, FBI agents portrayed Mar-a-Lago as a house with 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, and a 17-acre estate.

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The resort in Palm Beach

Following the search conducted by the FBI at the resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday, the Justice Department maintained its customary policy of maintaining silence regarding current investigations. The search took place at the resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Attorney General Merrick Garland

On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said his office has taken steps to unseal the search warrant and its two attachments, which included an inventory list, but he also noted that some of the department's work must be conducted in private. Garland explained that he would not elaborate on the basis for the search because doing so would violate the privacy of inquiry subjects and the constitutional rights of all Americans.

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Trump on release of documents

In a late Thursday night post on Truth Social, Trump said he would "not oppose the release of records" and would "take a step further by ENCOURAGING the quick release of those documents." By Friday afternoon, the court wanted to know whether Trump objected to unsealing the warrant documents it had requested. Trump's staff had spoken with outside lawyers to determine their next move, so the former president's inner circle was taken aback by Garland's statement.

Garland's statement

In a late Thursday night post on Truth Social, Trump said he would "not oppose the release of records" and would "take a step further by ENCOURAGING the quick release of those documents." By Friday afternoon, the court wanted to know whether Trump objected to unsealing the warrant documents it had requested. Trump's staff had spoken with outside lawyers to determine their next move, so the former president's inner circle was taken aback by Garland's statement.

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