Details in the affidavit and related memo, nearly three weeks after the Aug. 8 search, underscore the high-stakes and unprecedented nature of the ongoing criminal investigation into whether Trump and his aides took classified government documents and refused to return them all. — even in the face of repeated requests from senior law enforcement officials.
Some of the classified documents returned to the National Archives from Mar-a-Lago in January could have revealed sensitive details about how human intelligence sources or spy agencies intercept electronic communications if they fell into the wrong hands, the affidavit suggests. Foreign destinations.
“There is probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be discovered,” the affidavit states.
Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhardt read the affidavit and consented to the search on August 5. Three days later, FBI agents dressed in polos and khakis executed a search warrant at a Palm Beach estate and took 20 boxes of items. bedroom, office and first-floor storage room, according to a list of items recovered from the property made public earlier this month.
The inventory said the boxes contained 11 sets of classified documents.
The warrant authorizing the search states that agents are looking for all “physical documents and records” that include evidence, contraband, fruits of crime or other items illegally possessed in violation of three potential felonies, including part of the Espionage Act. Losing national security information. The warrant also covers destruction of records and concealment or destruction of government property.
of 38 pages in affidavit, about half are completely or largely redacted. After the document was unsealed, Trump spokesman Taylor Pudovich said in a statement, “This is a huge travesty, and the unredacted one further supports President Trump’s position that there is no reason to test — it’s all politics!”
Affidavits are detailed documents about an investigation. The affidavit usually contains key information about witnesses, why agents believe evidence of a crime may be found on a particular property or device, and the investigative steps taken prior to the search.
It is unusual for the details of such an affidavit to be made public, especially in an ongoing trial. But several media organizations and other parties have called for the document to be sealed, citing extreme public interest in the case involving the former president, who may run again in 2024.
Reinhardt granted the request to unseal the affidavit, but allowed the Justice Department to propose redactions of information that government officials said would affect the investigation or witness protection.
After reviewing the contents of 15 boxes Trump returned to the National Archives earlier this year and finding documents with classified identification, federal agents sought permission to conduct the search. Some are marked “HCS”, a category of highly classified government information; Foreign intelligence surveillance may not be shared with other and foreign countries related to the court. The acronym “HCS” stands for “HUMINT Control Systems” and refers to government systems used to protect intelligence gathered from covert human sources, the affidavit states.
In total, those boxes contained 184 individual documents with classification markings, according to the affidavit. Some of the documents appear to contain Trump’s handwritten notes. Twenty-five of them were marked Top Secret, while 92 were marked under the classification of “Secret”; 67 were marked “confidential”, the lowest level of classification.
The affidavit also includes a May 25 letter from Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to the Justice Department, defending the president’s conduct by arguing that Trump has the ultimate classification authority within the government. In the letter, Corcoran insisted his client had cooperated with the investigation and complained about the leaks. Corcoran argued that impeaching Trump’s conduct on classified documents would “implicate serious constitutional separation-of-powers issues.” The attorney requested that any application to a judge or grand jury regarding the investigation include a letter defending Trump.
A separate, partially redacted document, which was also unsealed Friday, details prosecutors’ reasoning for withholding significant portions of the affidavit and shows that numerous people have tipped off the FBI about classified documents kept at Mar-a-Lago. .
“In addition to law enforcement personnel, revisions to the affidavit are necessary to protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of public witnesses, to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation, and to avoid grand jury exposure,” the memo states. Meaning.”
The search intensified Trump’s longstanding animosity toward the Justice Department and the FBI. Emails, documents and interviews show that The former president was at loggerheads for several months Law enforcement agency on custody of documents protected under the Presidential Records Act – National Archives and Records Administration.
Some of the material recovered in the search is considered extraordinarily sensitive, two people familiar with the search said, and could reveal carefully guarded secrets about U.S. intelligence-gathering methods. One said the information was “one of the most important secrets we have.”
Like others interviewed about the search, the two spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not been made public.
This is a growing story. It will be updated.
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