The US Department of Justice has released the highly anticipated affidavit behind this month’s search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida estate home, confirming that the United States is investigating the alleged mishandling of classified documents by the former US leader.
The redacted document released on Friday, August 26 provided more insight into the evidence that led the FBI to carry out an unprecedented search of a former president’s home on August 8.
Its release came after a federal judge on Thursday ordered the Department of Justice to release a redacted version that had been submitted to the court.
US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart said last week that he believed “there are portions of the affidavit that could be unsealed” and ordered the Department of Justice to submit a redacted version for his review.
“The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records,” read the 38-page affidavit, substantial portions of which were blacked out.
The document stated that the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had received 15 boxes of documents from Trump’s office in January.
“The FBI’s investigation has established that documents bearing classification markings, which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI), were among the materials,” it read.
The affidavit added that the Department of Justice believed “additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain” at Trump’s home.
“There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found,” it said, describing the materials as “illegally possessed”.
The Department of Justice had opposed releasing the affidavit, arguing that it was “highly likely to compromise future investigative steps” and the identity of witnesses. But the public and Republicans had asked for the document to be made public, citing “utmost public interest”.
After the redacted affidavit’s release, Trump again rebuked the search of his home, calling it a “total public relations subterfuge” by the FBI and the Justice Department. “Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home,” he wrote on his platform Truth
The search of Mar-a-Lago brought about Republican criticism against the FBI and the Department of Justice, with several GOP lawmakers accusing the Biden administration of investigating Trump for political reasons.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has defended the search, saying earlier this month that he had personally approved it.
The search warrant was released on August 12, revealing that the Department of Justice was investigating the former president for mishandling classified documents. The court records showed the FBI seized some top secret documents from Trump’s home, but they did not provide details about the information they might contain.
“Top secret” is the highest level of classification of US government documents, and US law prohibits making public or mishandling classified documents.
It is not clear whether the investigation will result in charges against Trump, who has suggested on multiple occasions that he may run for president again in 2024.
Mark Warner, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Friday the investigation into Trump must continue without interference.
“It appears, based on the affidavit unsealed this morning, that among the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago were some of our most sensitive intelligence – which is one reason the Senate Intelligence Committee has requested, on a bipartisan basis, a damage assessment of any national security threat posed by the mishandling of this information,” Warner said in a statement.
See the link to the original PDF below…