FBI Seized ‘Top Secret’ Documents from Trump Home
WASHINGTON — A federal judge in South Florida unsealed the search warrant that initiated a law enforcement raid on former President Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, home on Monday, revealing for the first time that the FBI is investigating him for possible violations of the Espionage Act, among other laws.
These other laws include removal or destruction of records and obstruction of an investigation.
A conviction on any of these violations can result in jail time and/or fines.
The release of the warrant caps a week that began with Trump’s own stunning revelation Monday night that his home at the Mar-a-Lago Golf resort had been raided.
It also fills in some details not revealed by Attorney General Merrick Garland during a press conference in Washington on Thursday.
The warrant described Mar-a-Lago, which is located at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., in Palm Beach, Florida, as “a club and residence” comprising a mansion “with approximately 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, on a 17-acre estate.”
“The locations to be searched include the ‘45 Office,’ all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate,” the warrant says.
The Justice Department excluded from its search any areas that were being “occupied, rented or used by third parties (such as Mar-a-Largo Members)” on the day the search was executed.
Most tellingly, on page four of the seven pages of documents is a list of what the FBI and the other law enforcement officers on the scene were looking for:
“All physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793, 2071 , or 1519, including the following:
a. Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes;
b. Information, including communications in any form, regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material;
c. Any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021; or
d. Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.”
The property receipt accompanying the search warrant shows that Trump possessed confidential, secret and top secret documents including some marked with “TS/SCI,” which indicate one of the highest levels of government classification.
Other items seized included photographs, a potential presidential record; a leatherbound box of documents, an executive grant of clemency for Trump acolyte Roger Stone, and something labeled “Info re: President of France.”
During his brief appearance before the press on Thursday, Garland said that he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, adding that “the department does not take such a decision lightly.”
“Where possible [it] is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” he said.
That statement, coupled with the search warrant and property receipt, appears to contradict Trump’s claims since Monday that he has cooperated with investigators from the National Archives and FBI for months and that the unannounced search was some kind of political hit job.
Evidently, after several rounds of negotiations over several weeks, federal investigators came to believe Trump hadn’t returned everything in his possession to the National Archives.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor,” Garland said in answer to Trump and others who criticized the raid. “Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”
Garland also addressed those who felt the Justice Department should have been more forthcoming earlier about what they were looking for.
“Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye,” he said. “We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans. And to protect the integrity of our investigations.”
Earlier Friday afternoon, Trump released a statement on the documents and the search.
“Number one, it was all declassified,” he said. “Number two, they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything.
“They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago,” Trump continued. “It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request. They could have had it anytime they wanted — and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.”