The Department of Justice releases the redacted affidavit relating to the Mar-a-Lago search

(Steve Helber, | AP File Photo) An aerial view of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate taken on August 10, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.

WASHINGTON (AP) • Fourteen of the 15 boxes recovered from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this year contained documents with classification marks, according to an FBI affidavit released Friday, which justifies the search of the property at the property month is explained.

The 32-page affidavit, even in its redacted form, provides additional details about an ongoing criminal investigation that has brought new legal danger to Trump just as he lays the groundwork for another presidential bid. It underscores the volume of sensitive government documents located at Mar-a-Lago and reveals concerns by the FBI that the records were illegally kept.

Although the document provides the most comprehensive description of the investigation, federal officials also redacted significant portions of it to protect the identities of witnesses and avoid disclosing sensitive investigative tactics.

The FBI submitted the affidavit or affidavit to a judge so it could obtain a search warrant on Trump’s property. Affidavits typically contain important information about an investigation, with agents explaining why they want to search specific property and why they think they are likely to find evidence of a potential crime there. But affidavits routinely remain sealed during pending investigations, making the judge’s decision to disclose parts of them all the more remarkable.

In recognition of the extraordinary public interest in the investigation, US Judge Bruce Reinhart on Thursday ordered the department to release a redacted version of the affidavit by Friday. The directive came hours after federal law enforcement officials filed under wraps those parts of the affidavit they wished to keep secret while their investigations progressed.

The redactions proposed by the Justice Department are extensive given the sensitivity of the investigation, reducing the likelihood that the document will provide a thorough insight into the basis for the unprecedented search or significant insight into the direction of the investigation. But even an edited affidavit may contain at least some new revelations about the investigation, and will likely help explain why federal agents who spent months trying to retrieve sensitive government records from Mar-a-Lago ultimately felt compelled to obtain a search warrant .

Documents previously released show the FBI retrieved 11 sets of classified documents from the property, including information classified as top secret. They also show federal agents investigating possible violations of three federal statutes, including one governing the collection, transmission or loss of defense intelligence under the Espionage Act. The other laws deal with the concealment, mutilation, or removal of records and the destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations.

It’s possible the affidavit, particularly in its unedited form, could shed light on important unanswered questions, including why sensitive presidential documents — including classified documents — were shipped to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House had left and why, despite repeated requests, Trump and his representatives did not deliver the entire batch of materials to the National Archives and Records Administration.

It could also offer additional details about the back-and-forth between Trump and the FBI, including a subpoena for documents issued last spring and a visit by FBI and Justice Department officials in June to assess how the materials were being used were stored .

The Justice Department had previously denied arguments by media organizations to make the affidavit public, saying any disclosure could contain private information about witnesses and investigative tactics. But Reinhart, acknowledging the extraordinary public interest in the investigation, said last week that he was not inclined to keep the entire document sealed and urged federal officials to show him the desired redactions privately.

In his order Thursday, Reinhart said the department had made compelling arguments for keeping broad swathes of the document sealed, which, if disclosed, would reveal grand jury information; the identity of witnesses and “non-defendants”; and details of the “strategy, direction, scope, sources and methods” of the investigation.

But he also said he was satisfied “that the government has shouldered its burden of proof, that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation, and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the.” entire affidavit.” The Department of Justice releases the redacted affidavit relating to the Mar-a-Lago search

Justin Scacco

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