On June 8 of this year, Justice Department attorneys wrote to Trump’s attorneys to reiterate once again that Mar-a-Lago was not an authorized storage location for classified information such as documents that had been stolen from the White House.
“They have not been handled properly or stored in an appropriate place,” they wrote. “Accordingly, we ask that the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents were stored be secured and that all boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be kept in said room in its current state until further notice.”
Trump’s lawyers confirmed receipt of that request the following day.
The FBI said in the affidavit that it believed the documents could be located in a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, as well as in Trump’s residential suite, his office, the Pine Hall Antechamberand “other spaces”.
“Based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, I affirm that there is probable cause to believe that evidence, contraband, proceeds of crime, or other items unlawfully possessed will be found on the premises,” the FBI special agent, whose name I redacted, wrote.
Two documents unsealed earlier this month, a search warrant and an FBI property receipt, revealed that the Justice Department is investigating the former president for possible violations of the Espionage Act, mishandling of government documents and obstruction of justice. .
According to the unsealed FBI receipt detailing items taken from Trump’s estate during his subsequent Aug. 8 search, FBI agents removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked with the highest level of government classification. Other items seized included photos, the grant of executive clemency to Trump ally Roger Stone, and a document with information on French President Emmanuel Macron.
In other documents unsealed Friday related to the motion to release the FBI affidavit, the Justice Department requested that that document be redacted to “protect the safety of multiple civilian witnesses whose information was included in the affidavit and contributed to the determination.” of probable cause, as well as the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”
The Justice Department warned that witnesses could be “subjected to harm including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety,” noting that FBI agents who had already been identified in the proceedings had received violent threats and He said: “The government has well-founded concerns that steps may be taken to thwart or interfere with this investigation if the facts in the affidavit were prematurely involved.”
Trying to cheer up his supporters while mocking another White House bid, Trump has sought to portray the search for Mar-a-Lago as an “unnecessary, unwarranted and un-American robbery,” in the words he used in a statement this week. week.
“This search, search and seizure of Mar-a-Lago was illegal and unconstitutional,” Trump added, “and we are taking all necessary steps to recover the documents, which we would have given them without the need for the despicable search of my house, so they can be given to the National Archives until they are required for the future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum.”
Despite Trump’s boastful claims, the FBI search was neither illegal nor unconstitutional, as investigators had successfully obtained legal permission from the federal judge to search the property.
In a statement Trump posted on Truth Social, the social media platform he started after he was ousted by others over the Capitol insurrection, Trump complained that the affidavit was heavily redacted, describing it as “total relationship subterfuge.” by the FBI and the Department of Justice”.
Sen. Mark R. Warner, the Virginia Democrat who serves as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement: “It appears, based on the affidavit unsealed this morning, that were among the documents mishandled in Mar- a-Lake. some of our most sensitive intelligence, which is one reason the Senate Intelligence Committee has called, on a bipartisan basis, for a damage assessment of any national security threat posed by mishandling this information.
“The Justice Department’s investigation must be allowed to proceed without interference,” Warner said.
Asked by reporters at the White House on Friday if he believed national security was threatened by Trump keeping the documents at Mar-a-Lago, President Joe Biden responded: “We’ll let the Justice Department determine that.” “.