Redacted version of affidavit used to seek search warrant on Trump's Mar-a-Lago released
A redacted version of the affidavit used to seek the search warrant on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate was released Friday noon.
"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," the 38-page affidavit read.
The investigation, according to the document, began as a result of a referral that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) received from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on Feb. 9, 2022.
The NARA said in February that it arranged in mid-January 2022 for the transport from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, to the National Archives of 15 boxes that contained presidential records.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a criminal investigation after an initial review of the NARA referral and "has established that documents bearing classification markings, which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI)," were among the materials contained in the 15 boxes, according to the affidavit.
A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings was said to have found 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as "CONFIDENTIAL," 92 documents marked as "SECRET," and 25 documents marked as "TOP SECRET."
"There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES," it wrote. "There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES."
In a separate filing explaining the rationale behind its redactions, the DOJ said it had to protect "a broad range of civilian witnesses," warning that they would likely face intimidation or retaliation.
In a response to the affidavit being partially made public, Trump wrote on "Truth Social" Friday afternoon that nothing was mentioned about "our close working relationship regarding document turnover -- WE GAVE THEM MUCH."
He also slammed U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Florida Bruce Reinhart who granted the warrant that FBI agents executed to search Mar-a-Lago earlier this month.
Multiple U.S. media organizations asked Reinhart to unseal the affidavit following the release of the search warrant.
The DOJ opposed the unsealing of the affidavit, claiming that the move would undermine "an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security" while the media outlets argued that the significant public interest in the affidavit justifies disclosing at least part of it.
Trump and many Republicans have denounced what they called a "raid" on Mar-a-Lago and repeatedly lashed out at the FBI and the DOJ.
Asked if national security could have been compromised by documents left at Mar-a-Lago, U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, told reporters on Friday at the White House that they will let the DOJ "determine that."
The unsealed warrant listed three potential criminal violations -- concealment or removal of federal records, destruction or alteration of records in a federal investigation, and transmitting defense information.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and claimed all documents taken by FBI agents were declassified.