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Affidavit sheds new light on FBI case for Mar-a-Lago search

The FBI believed a search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home would uncover more classified documents, according to a heavily redacted affidavit released Friday, noting in the more than 30-page affidavit The document states that “there is also likely to be reason to believe that evidence of disability will be found.”

Federal Judge Bruce E. Reinhart on Thursday ordered the affidavit containing the Justice Department’s proposed redacting of anything that would identify those involved in the investigation, including witnesses working with the FBI, to be released publicly.

The redactions include “information from a wide range of civilian witnesses who may be the subject of ‘witness intimidation or retaliation,'” according to a court filing, which explains why the Justice Department wanted certain information redacted. The filing notes that the department is trying to protect “a significant number” of civilian witnesses by redacting them.

“Although the public is now aware that the government issued a search warrant at the former president’s premises and seized documents marked as classified, the affidavit is crammed with further details that would provide a roadmap for anyone intending to investigate.” impede.” the applicant States.

The types of highly sensitive documents the Trump administration wanted to get back could also remain classified, Reinhart said.

Despite extensive redactions, the affidavit provides a clearer picture of the chronology of the investigation and previous efforts by the administration to retrieve sensitive materials from Trump, as well as new details about the ongoing investigation. Trump and his allies called for the affidavit to be released, but his legal team was not involved in the lawsuit from news organizations that prompted its release.

It is highly unusual for an affidavit setting out the probable cause for the commission of a crime to be released before charges are brought.

FBI agents stole 11 sets of classified documents — including some marked top secret for sale only at designated government facilities — and 20 boxes of materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., during a September 11 Aug. 8 search. According to the search warrant, the US Atty. General Merrick Garland agreed to declassify, along with a detailed list of the items removed. The department is investigating possible violations of three separate laws: the Espionage Act, which prohibits the unauthorized storage of national security information that could harm the United States or help foreign adversaries; a law making it a crime to destroy or conceal a document to obstruct a government investigation; and a law related to the unlawful removal of government materials.

The Presidential Records Act 1978 requires presidential records to be turned over to the National Archives when a president leaves office. The archives recovered more than 15 boxes of material illegally brought to Mar-a-Lago in January.

When asked by the National Archives to review the contents, the FBI “identified documents with classification marks in fourteen of the FIFTEEN BOXES. A preliminary review of the documents with classification marks revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents with classification marks, including 67 documents marked CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked SECRET, and 25 documents marked TOP SECRET.” it says in the affidavit.

The Justice Department spent the spring working with Trump’s attorneys to recover classified documents, including issuing a subpoena for the items.

The search warrant was executed when the Justice Department had reason to believe Trump and his team had not returned all highly sensitive documents to the government.

The Justice Department declined to release the affidavit, saying it could hamper its investigation.

The FBI has reported a surge in threats against its agents after Republicans responded to the raid with harsh criticism of the agency, comparing it to the Gestapo. In one case, a gunman tried to break into an FBI field office in Cincinnati and was eventually killed in an altercation with local police. Trump supporters have also protested outside an FBI field office in Arizona.

Eli Stokols, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-08-26/unsealed-affidavit-fbi-trump-mar-a-lago Affidavit sheds new light on FBI case for Mar-a-Lago search

Alley Einstein

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