Justice Department Releases Redacted Mar-a-Lago Affidavit

On Friday, the Department of Justice released the redited affidavit who supported the search for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

After reviewing redactions proposed by the DOJ on Thursday, an investigative judge had ordered the redacted affidavit entered into the public docket before noon Friday.

PHOTO: An aerial view shows President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, August 10, 2022.

An aerial view shows President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on August 10, 2022.

Steve Helber/AP

A coalition of news organizations, including ABC News, had argued that the publication was in the public interest.

The FBI special agent responsible for writing the affidavit in support of the Mar-a-Lago search writes that as a result of their ongoing criminal investigation, they had “probable reason to believe that additional material containing classified information [National Defense Information] or that are presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at [Mar a Lago].”

“There are also probable reasons to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at [Mar a Lago]“, continues the affidavit.

The redacted affidavit is a total of 32 pages with an attachment, including a May 25 letter signed by former President Trump’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, outlining what is described as Trump’s authorities regarding the records. presidential.

The unredacted portions of the affidavit lay out the timeline of the Justice Department’s investigation that led to their unprecedented decision to search the residence of a former president.

PHOTO: A police car is seen outside the residence of former US President Donald Trump in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, August 8, 2022.

A police car is seen outside former US President Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-A-Lago, Florida, August 8, 2022.

Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

It was launched, according to the affidavit, after a National Archives Inspector General Special Agent sent a criminal referral to the DOJ revealing that the 15 boxes turned over by Trump’s team in January revealed “documents highly classified” intermingled with otherwise innocuous documents. .

The affidavit goes on to describe further interactions between NARA and Trump’s team to secure the return of the recordings that were improperly removed from the White House.

Between May 16 and May 18, according to the affidavit, an FBI review found that in those 15 boxes turned over in January 2021, there were a total of 184 documents with the following classifications:

67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL92 documents marked as SECRET25 documents marked as TOP SECRET

“Additionally,” the affidavit continues, “FBI agents observed markings reflecting the following broadcast compartments/controls: HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI. Based on my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels usually contain [National Defense Information]. Several of the documents also contained what appear to be FPOTUS’s handwritten notes.”

The affidavit then details communications between the DOJ and one of Trump’s top lawyers, Evan Corcoran, in May 2021, in which Corcoran asserted that Trump had “absolute authority to declassify the documents” and that the letter should be released. provided to any grand jury investigating the case.

The filing then refers to a May 5 Breitbart public article containing an interview with former top Trump adviser Kash Patel, which sought to refute claims that Trump brought classified documents to Mar-a-Lago because that he claimed that Trump had declassified the documents en masse. However, there is no evidence that this happened, and Trump’s team has produced no such documentation proving it.

Later in the affidavit, the DOJ details a letter from one of its attorneys to Corcoran who “reiterated” that Mar-a-Lago was not authorized to store classified information and requested that the room documents are stored to be more secure and that the documents are “retained”. in this room in their current state until further notice.” There is no mention in this section of the DOJ ordering the president’s team to simply add a lock to the room, although that is what the Trump’s legal team has repeatedly asserted – this is a direct request from the DOJ that the documents not be moved from the room.

An unredacted header later reads, “There are probable grounds to believe that documents containing classified NDI and presidential records remain on the premises.”

And after several pages of redacted lines, the affidavit officer concludes that, “Based on this investigation, I believe that the STORAGE ROOM, FPOTUS residential suite, Pine Hall, ‘Office 45’ and d ‘other spaces within the PREMISES are not currently authorized locations for the storage of classified or NDI information. Similarly, based on this investigation, I do not believe that any spaces within the PREMISES have been authorized for the storage of classified information at least since the end of the presidential administration of FPOTUS on January 20, 2021.”

“As described above, evidence of the SUBJECT OFFENSES was stored in multiple locations within the PREMISES,” the affidavit states.

“The main thing the affidavit does is explain to us how this investigation unfolded. First, the National Archives in 2021 learned that there were a significant number of missing presidential records from the Trump administration. Following negotiations with President Trump, 15 of the boxes were sent from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives in January of this year,” reported ABC News Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas. they found was deeply disturbing – highly classified documents. National Archives officials were so concerned that they turned over these boxes to the FBI last May. We have a breakdown of what was in those boxes. There were 184 documents marked classified – – among them 92 secret and 25 top secret.”

In his initial request for the affidavit to be sealed, the agent states that keeping it sealed was necessary because the FBI had still “not yet identified all of the potential criminal accomplices or located all of the evidence related to its investigation.”

“Premature disclosure of the contents of this affidavit and related documents may have a significant and negative impact on the prosecution of the investigation and may seriously impair its effectiveness by allowing the criminal parties to flee, destroy evidence (electronically stored and otherwise ), change patterns of behavior and warn accomplices in crime,” the affidavit reads.

The affidavit also outlines the procedures the agents would use to execute the search, that a privilege review team separate from the “case team” would search Trump’s personal office and “would be available to assist in the event a proceedings involving potentially privileged attorney-client information is required.”

“If the Lien Review Team determines that the documents or data are not potentially confidential between attorney and client, they will be provided to law enforcement personnel assigned to the investigation,” says the affidavit. “If at any time law enforcement assigned to the investigation subsequently identifies data or documents that they consider to be potentially confidential between attorney and client, they will discontinue review of such data or documents. identified and will refer the documents to the Lien Review Team for further review by the Lien Review Team.”

ABC News’ Will Steakin and Luke Barr contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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