Trump brought ‘national defense information’ to Mar-a-Lago, affidavit says

Former President Donald Trump brought

Former President Donald Trump brought highly sensitive “national defense information” to his resort town of Mar-a-Lago, according to the affidavit. File photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump brought highly sensitive “national defense information” to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, according to a redacted affidavit released Friday.

The filing says officials had reason to believe Trump had not turned over all of the government documents he took with him from the White House in early 2021, and that the files were stored in locations that weren’t known. were not officially approved for the possession of classified documents.

“Based on this investigation, I believe that the STORAGE ROOM, [the former president’s] residential suite, Pine Hall, the “45 Office” and other spaces within [Mar-a-Lago] are not currently authorized locations for the storage of classified information or [National Defense Information]“, states the sworn affidavit of an unidentified FBI special agent.

A screenshot of the affidavit indicating that national defense information was stored at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

A screenshot of the affidavit indicating that national defense information was stored at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The heavily redacted document lays out the justification for the FBI’s controversial research into Trump’s ownership earlier this month. No criminal charges have yet been filed against Trump, but the FBI said it is investigating possible crimes that carry serious penalties, including the Espionage Act.

The FBI investigation began with a referral to the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, in February 2021 over concerns that Trump took “highly classified documents intermingled with other documents” from the White House to Mar. -a-Lago. A heavily redacted portion of the affidavit cites a CBS Miami article titled “Moving Trucks Spotted At Mar-a-Lago,” published a month prior, under a headline about how movers could be seen handling boxes records at Trump’s club after leaving office. .

From May to December 2021, the FBI says NARA repeatedly asked Trump to turn over records he was not supposed to have. Eventually, in December, Trump’s representatives reported that “twelve boxes were found and ready for collection.” The FBI proceeded to sort the material, which amounted to 15 boxes in total.

Last May, the FBI conducted a preliminary examination of the contents of the 15 boxes and found more than 100 documents marked as classified, according to the affidavit.

The boxes contained “184 unique documents bearing classification marks, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET”.

Some included markings indicating sensitive information from human intelligence sources. Other files bore the acronym “FISA,” which refers to surveillance information collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

On June 8, according to the affidavit, the Justice Department sent Trump a letter reiterating that classified information could not be stored at Mar-a-Lago.

“It appears that since the classified documents were removed from White House secure facilities and transferred to Mar-a-Lago on or about January 20, 2021, they have not been handled appropriately or stored in a appropriate place. “, says the letter.

“As a result, we ask that the room in Mar-a-Lago where the documents had been stored be secured and that all boxes that have been moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with all other items in this room) be kept in this room in their current state,” the letter reads.

The DOJ also mentions claims by former Trump administration official Kash Patel, who claimed that the ex-president “had declassified the documents in question”. The rebuttal to that claim is redacted, but experts have questioned whether a blanket declassification order is even legal, while other former White House officials have flat out said it didn’t exist.

The highly anticipated release of the affidavit follows weeks of high profile legal drama in Trumpworld. In addition to the Espionage Act, the FBI said it is investigating potential obstruction of an investigation and the removal or destruction of documents.

Trump and his allies blasted the FBI and Justice Department for conducting the search of Trump’s Palm Beach estate and issued warnings of potential reimbursement when Republicans are back in power.

The Justice Department initially resisted releasing part of the affidavit, arguing that to protect the integrity of the investigation, the document should be so redacted as to render its contents incomprehensible.

But Judge Bruce Reinhart, the South Florida magistrate judge who approved the subpoena for the FBI search and continued to oversee legal wrangling over further disclosure of information, said a redacted version should be published. The Justice Department proposed changes it said would protect cooperating witnesses and the future of the investigation, and the judge approved the document for release Thursday.

In a note filed with the affidavitFederal prosecutors told the court that certain documents “must remain sealed to protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses, in addition to law enforcement.”

Prosecutors also noted an “increase in specific threats of violence against identified FBI agents, overall violent threats against FBI personnel, and the armed attack on the FBI office in Cincinnati,” which led to gunman killed after hours-long standoff with police. The Cincinnati forward was active on Trump’s social media network and had issued a “call to arms” threatening to attack the FBI after the search of Mar-a-Lago.

The full, unredacted affidavit would reveal sensitive details about the Justice Department’s unprecedented decision to search Trump’s compound.

Trump allies demanded to see the full affidavit justifying the search, arguing the document could show the federal government had no good reason to search his property.

Follow Greg Walters and Keegan Hamilton on Twitter.

Follow Greg Walters and Keegan Hamilton on Twitter.