The Justice Department on Friday released a partially redacted version of the affidavit that prompted the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago.
The legal affidavit, which was used to secure the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, suggested that human source intelligence, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and signals intelligence and other highly sensitive documents were found among boxes of documents stored at former President Donald Trump’s residence.
Agents found 184 documents, 25 of which were marked “top secret” and 92 of which were marked “secret.” Another 67 were marked “confidential,” the lowest level of classification. Some of the documents contained what appeared to be Trump’s “handwritten notes.”
The FBI received information that classified documents were located in a storage room, Trump’s residential suite, his office and other spaces around Mar-a-Lago, according to the affidavit. “Probable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed” in violation of multiple laws related to classified documents will be found at Mar-a-Lago, the affidavit said.
The FBI asked for the affidavit to be sealed because the agency has “not yet identified all potential criminal confederates no located all evidence related to its investigation.”
Key parts of the document were redacted after the Justice Department said that the investigation was still ongoing. In a separate filing on Friday, the DOJ defended the redactions to protect witnesses.
“If witnesses’ identities are exposed, they could be subjected to harms including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety,” the DOJ said. “Information in the affidavit could be used to identify many, if not all, of those witnesses,” the filing added.
The filing also said that revealing certain information could “severely disadvantage the government as it seeks further information from witnesses.” It argued that these concerns are not “hypothetical,” noting the “FBI agents who have been publicly identified in connection with this investigation have received repeated threats of violence.”
Trump seized on the redactions in the affidavit, arguing that the document does not mention information related to nuclear secrets that the FBI searched for, according to the Washington Post.
“Affidavit heavily redacted!!!” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Nothing mentioned on ‘Nuclear,’ a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI & DOJ, or our close working relationship regarding document turnover – WE GAVE THEM MUCH. Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home. He recused himself two months ago from one of my cases based on his animosity and hatred of your favorite President, me. What changed? Why hasn’t he recused himself on this case? Obama must be very proud of him right now!”
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Trump also lashed out at the Justice Department ahead of the release.
“The political Hacks and Thugs had no right under the Presidential Records Act to storm Mar-a-Lago and steal everything in sight, including Passports and privileged documents,” he claimed. “They even broke into my safe with a safecracker – Can you believe? This Act was created for a very good reason, and it works. We are right now living in a Lawless Country, that just so happens to be, also, a Failing Nation!”
But legal experts said even the redacted affidavit appears damning for the former president.
“I have seen enough, folks. Donald Trump will be indicted in the classified documents matter,” tweeted national defense attorney Bradley Moss. “The Trump team was incompetent enough to think this affidavit would be good for them,” he added.
“All of it is bad, but Trump having documents derived from human intelligence (i.e. spies) floating around Mar-a-Lago is about the worst imaginable offense in this space,” wrote former Justice Department official Matthew Miller.
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss marveled at the revelations.
“No other ex-president has ever pulled something like this,” he wrote. “We need to discover, if we can, exactly who was given information from these highly classified documents,” he added. “Were they foreign nationals? Were they enemies of the United States?”
See the full redacted affidavit below:
about the Mar-a-Lago raid