By ERIC TUCKER and MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fourteen of 15 boxes recovered from former President Donald Trump’s estate in Florida earlier this year contained classified documents, many top secret, mixed with various newspapers, magazines and personal correspondence.
That’s according to an FBI affidavit released Friday explaining the rationale for the search of the property this month.
- After: Read the document the FBI used to search Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home
The affidavit, even in its redacted form, offers the most detailed description yet of government records kept at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property long after he left the White House. It also reveals the seriousness of the government’s concerns that the documents were there illegally.
No space in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was authorized for the storage of classified material, according to court documents, which outlined the FBI’s justification for searching the property this month, including “probable cause for believe that evidence of obstruction will be found.”
The document clearly shows how the haphazard retention of top-secret government records and the apparent failure to protect them despite months of pleas by US officials has exposed Trump to new legal peril just as he lays the groundwork for another possible presidential election in 2024.
Previously released documents show that federal agents are investigating potential violations of several federal laws, including one that governs the collection, transmission or loss of defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes deal with the concealment, mutilation or suppression of documents and the destruction, alteration or falsification of documents in federal investigations.
Trump has long insisted, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that he is fully cooperating with government officials. And he rallied Republicans behind him by describing the search as a politically motivated witch hunt designed to damage his re-election prospects. He repeated that refrain on his social media site Friday, saying he and his reps have had a close working relationship with the FBI and “GIVES THEM A LOT.”
On Friday evening, his attorneys reiterated their request for an independent special master to be appointed to review the documents removed from the house, saying the redacted affidavit does not give Trump enough information about the reasons for the search or the materials that have been removed.
Of 184 documents found with classification marks, 25 were at the top secret level, the affidavit states. Some bore special markings suggesting that they included information from highly sensitive human sources or the collection of electronic “signals” authorized by a special intelligence tribunal.
And some of these classified documents were mixed with other documents, including newspapers, magazines and miscellaneous printed matter, the affidavit says, citing a letter from the Archives.