WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has requested a search of President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence after retrieving an initial batch of top-secret national security documents, fearing that their disclosure would compromise “confidential human sources” used in intelligence gathering, according to a report. American newspapers. Edited copy of the certificate Used to get a note.
The affidavit—including more than thirty pages of evidence and legal arguments provided by the Department of Justice’s Department of National Security as well as supporting documents—describes the government’s months-long campaign to recover top-secret materials that the former president took from the White House and who designated state documents as his property. own.
And for the first time, it reveals a government source for information about the movement of documents into and within the Mar-a-Lago compound, “a significant number of civilian witnesses” familiar with Mr. Trump’s actions after the presidency.
The heavily redacted affidavit was released Friday, 18 days after FBI agents descended on Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club with court clearance. search warrant It took additional material marked as classified, citing potential violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice laws.
Prosecutors wrote in the search request that there was “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction would be found” at Mr Trump’s home.
Under orders from the judge in the case, Bruce E. Reinhart, the Department of Justice has proposed extensive revisions to the testimony in an effort to protect witnesses from intimidation or retaliation. The government did this to protect the broader integrity of its investigation into whether Mr. Trump violated the Espionage Act and other laws by intentionally maintaining national security records that he was required to turn over to the National Archives.
While the government has revised the details about the witnesses in the Mar-a-Lago investigation, the affidavit clearly describes the risks posed by their identities, or even their actions, publicly.
“First and foremost, the government must protect the identity of witnesses at this point in the investigation to ensure their safety,” two of the department’s attorneys wrote in explaining their revised requests.
They wrote that witnesses could be subjected to “retaliation, intimidation or harassment, and even threats to their physical integrity” – adding that Judge Reinhart himself had already noted that such risks were “not hypothetical in this case”.
The affidavit revealed that the search was prompted by an extensive FBI review of 15 initial boxes of material that Mr. Trump delivered to the archives in January, after months of government pressure.
In these boxes, they found a total of 184 documents with hashtags, including 25 that were marked “Top Confidential.”
But the agents were even more alarmed when they discovered that many of the materials included the highest national security restrictions, requiring them to be held in controlled government storage facilities, and never to be shared with foreign governments, to protect the “secret human sources” that the intelligence community uses to gather information around the world. , according to the documents.
The affidavit does not reveal the nature of the material or why Mr. Trump chose to keep it.
Those concerns, and Mr. Trump’s continued unwillingness to return sensitive documents the archive knows are still in its possession, have prompted department leaders to act quickly, according to officials.
The revisions, which included about half of the affidavit, covered many of the more sensitive details of the Justice Department’s investigation; Entire portions of the filing have been withheld, including most pages 11 through 16. As a result, there are limited references to witnesses or investigative methods that led to the findings drawn up by attorneys in the department’s National Security Division, who persuaded Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to sign a very unusual request for a search.
On Friday morning, before the documents were released, Mr. Trump attacked the department on Truth Social, the social media platform he has been using to communicate since he was banned from Twitter after the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack. He called the Department of Justice and the FBI for “political hacks and criminals.” who “do not have the right under the Presidential Records Act to break into Mar-a-Lago and steal everything in sight, including passports and privileged documents.”
The fact that none of the affidavits were published is a notable turn of events. Such documents are often left completely sealed until criminal charges are filed, and even then they tend to appear only when litigating important legal issues in the case. There is no indication that the Justice Department plans to file charges in the documents case any time soon.
The partial release came after several news organizations, including The New York Times, filed a motion this month asking Judge Reinhart to disclose the entire document, citing massive public interest in the search for Mar-a-Lago.
The Justice Department responded by saying that the affidavit, if disclosed, would provide a roadmap to its investigation and wanted Judge Reinhart to keep it completely confidential. Mr. Trump’s lawyers, to the astonishment of Mr. Garland’s team, have not disputed that the disclosures portray the former president’s actions in an extremely unconcerned light.
At a hearing last week, Judge Reinhart apparently sought a compromise, mooting the idea of releasing portions of the affidavit. He ordered the government to send the proposed revisions to him by noon on Thursday and issued his order to release the revised version within hours.
Justice Department officials have indicated that they will press hard to withhold anything that could expose witnesses in the case. After researching Mar-a-Lago, the FBI reported an increase in threats against its clients; armed man Tried to breach the field office in Cincinnati before he was killed in a shootout with the local police.
Trump’s team sought to portray the search as unfair and unnecessary, claiming that there were ongoing talks between Mr. Trump’s side and the Department of Justice that led to the first batch of boxes of documents being returned to the archive in January.
But when archive officials retrieved 15 boxes of material in January, they opened them to find mountains of paper, more than 700 pages of classified documents because some of the individual documents contained several pages, some The most sensitive and restricted Existing in government, known as special access programs.
The archives alerted the Department of Justice soon after with a referral, and a grand jury was formed.
The affidavit released does not reveal the amount of classified material handed over to federal officials during the June 3 meeting between Justice Department officials and Mr Trump’s lawyer, which came after the grand jury was formed.
Trump repeatedly resisted requests from several advisers to hand over the materials, as early as last summer, according to several people briefed on the matter. “It’s mine,” he said of the boxes, according to three people familiar with what happened.
Mr. Trump passed through at least some of the boxes in late 2021, although it is unclear whether he did pass them all.
His lead attorneys in the case met on June 3 with Jay Pratt, the head of the counterintelligence division of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. Shortly before that meeting, Evan Corcoran, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, went downstairs to rummage through boxes for classified materials, according to two people briefed on the matter.
The Department of Justice has also collected information from at least one witness indicating that there may be more presidential material in Mar-a-Lago. On June 22, management recalled surveillance footage from various locations in the club, including the lobby outside a basement storage area where Mr Corcoran and Mrs Bob drove Mr Pratt nearly three weeks earlier to show him where the documents were kept.
People familiar with the tapes said the video showed the boxes being moved from the storage room at some point around the contact from the Justice Department. It also showed boxes sliding into different containers, which alarmed investigators.
On August 8, investigators found additional materials, presidential records and classified documents in the basement, as well as in a container on the floor of Mr Trump’s closet in his office, a former dressing room in the bridal suite above the club’s banquet hall. .
The safe contained a hotel-style safe, but did not contain the items investigators had requested, and was too small to hold the documents in his possession, according to several people familiar with the events.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”