FBI seized classified records from Mar-a-Lago during search of Trump residence
FBI agents seized classified records from former President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago during the agency's unprecedented raid on Monday, including some marked as top secret, according to a warrant and property receipt unsealed Friday. The documents had earlier been reviewed and reported by Fox News Digital.
Former President Trump is disputing the classification, saying the records have been declassified.
According to the warrant, reviewed by Fox News early Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart signed the warrant on Aug. 5, giving the FBI authority to conduct its search "on or before August 19, 2022," and "in the daytime 6:00 am. to 10:00 p.m."
The warrant and property receipt were formally unsealed Friday afternoon by Reinhart.
"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 states, but did not give authority to agents to search areas being occupied by Mar-a-Lago members or not used by Trump and staff.
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The warrant gave agents the authority to seize "all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed" in violation of U.S. Code, including documents with classification markings and presidential records created between Jan. 20, 2017 and Jan. 20, 2021.
According to the property receipt, reviewed before its release by Fox News, FBI agents took approximately 20 boxes of items from the premises, including one set of documents marked as "Various classified/TS/SCI documents," which refers to top secret/ sensitive compartmented information.
Records covered by that government classification level could include human intelligence, and information that, if disclosed, could jeopardize relations between the United States and other nations, as well as the lives of intelligence operatives abroad. However, the classification also encompasses national security information related to the daily operations of the president of the United States.
PDF: Read the released search warrant
The property receipt also shows that FBI agents collected four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents, and three sets of confidential documents.
The property receipt does not reveal any details about any of those records.
The list also includes a "leatherbound box of documents," binders of photos, handwritten notes, miscellaneous documents, miscellaneous top secret documents, miscellaneous confidential documents, and other records.
The government conducted the search in response to what it believes to be a violation of federal laws: 18 USC 793 — Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information; 18 USC 2071 — Concealment, removal or mutilation; and 18 USC 1519 — Destruction, alteration or falsification of records in Federal investigations.
The allegation of "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information" falls under the Espionage Act.
The former president and his team, though, are disputing the classification and believe the information and records to have been declassified.
Trump posted on his TRUTH Social account Friday that the documents were "all declassified."
"Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn't need to ‘seize’ anything," Trump posted. "They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago."
Trump added: "It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request."
"The Biden administration is in obvious damage control after their botched raid where they seized the President's picture books, a 'hand-written note,' and declassified documents," Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich told Fox News. "This raid of President Trump's home was not just unprecedented, but unnecessary--and they are leaking lies and innuendos to try to explain away the weaponization of government against their dominant political opponent. This is outrageous."
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday, in a rare public statement, said the Justice Department had filed a motion to unseal the warrant and property receipt for the search of the residence of a former president of the United States, "in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter."
"The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing," the DOJ’s motion states, noting that Trump should have the opportunity to respond to the motion and "lodge objections, including with regard to any ‘legitimate private interests’ or the potential for other ‘injury’ if these materials are made public."
Trump, in a statement late Thursday night, called for the "immediate" release of the warrant and property receipt.
"Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, much as they have done for the last 6 years," Trump said.
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The former president touted his current poll numbers saying they "are the strongest they have ever been, fundraising by the Republican Party is breaking all records, and midterm elections are fast approaching."
"This unprecedented political weaponization of law enforcement is inappropriate and highly unethical," Trump said. "The world is watching as our Country is being brought to a new low, not only on our border, crime, economy, energy, national security, and so much more, but also with respect to our sacred elections!
He added: "Release the documents now!"
Trump's legal team formally filed a motion in support of unsealing the warrant and property receipt, saying the former president "does not object" to the release.
The warrant and property receipt were formally unsealed by Reinhart Friday afternoon, just after Trump's motion in support of the release.
Garland, during his public remarks Thursday, said he "personally" signed off on the decision to obtain a warrant to search Trump’s private residence.
"The department does not take such a decision lightly," Garland said. "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."
Garland also defended DOJ officials and FBI agents against the "recent unfounded attacks" on their professionalism.
"I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked," he said.
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Trump's office received a grand jury subpoena this spring for classified documents he allegedly took from the White House when he left office in 2021. A source close to Trump told Fox News that the former president cooperated with the subpoena by turning over documents to the FBI.
According to the source, a subpoena was issued to a "custodian of the president," and was related to the materials that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) was trying to collect after claiming Trump improperly took those classified records with him from Washington D.C. to Mar-a-Lago.
The source close to Trump told Fox News that Trump has been cooperating in the investigation into the NARA records for a year.
On June 3, the FBI visited Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the requested documents in the subpoena, which Trump complied with, the source told Fox News.
Those investigators toured the area of the Florida resort where some documents were stored, then briefly viewed and took custody of a small amount of potentially sensitive material. Separate sources told Fox News that federal investigators had spoken with at least one person who relayed the possibility of more sensitive national security material in that storage room and other areas of the property.
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FBI officials, that day, asked to see a storage facility where the records were located. The FBI asked that staff put a lock on the storage room, which they later did.
This source said Trump and his staff were, and are, committed to being in compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which requires presidential administrations to preserve certain documents.
Trump received that subpoena two months prior to the FBI’s unprecedented raid on a former president of the United States’ private residence—which took place early Monday morning.
The source questioned whether the federal magistrate judge who signed off on the warrant for the FBI's raid of Mar-a-Lago Monday was aware of Trump's "past compliance with the subpoena," adding that, if the FBI was looking for additional documents, another subpoena could have been issued, as Trump and his team were "cooperative" and turned over documents and records responsive to the subpoena issued in the spring.