Judge Unseals Mar-a-Lago Raid Warrant, Reveals Why FBI Is Investigating Trump

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
August 12, 2022FBI Trump Raidshare

The seven-page warrant that authorized the FBI to search former President Donald Trump’s property earlier this week was unsealed Friday, and it shows that Trump is under federal investigation for obstruction of justice and other alleged violations.

Trump is under investigation for alleged violations of 18 USC 2071—concealment, removal, or mutilation; 18 USC 793 of the Espionage Act—gathering, transmitting, or losing defense information; and 18 USC 1519—destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations, according to the warrant, which was unsealed by Judge Bruce Reinhart on Friday afternoon. A conviction under these statutes can lead to imprisonment or fines.

The search and seizure warrant shows FBI agents targeted “the ’45 Office,’ all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS (former president of the United States) and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate.”

Agents were granted authority to seize “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed,” according to the warrant. That includes documents with classification markings and presidential records that were drafted between Jan. 20, 2017, and Jan. 20, 2021—when Trump was in office.

The FBI didn’t try to obtain access to search private guest rooms, including members of Mar-a-Lago, according to the warrant. Earlier this week, the judge ordered the Department of Justice to file a response after several groups requested the warrant unsealed.

Federal agents also took a set of alleged “top secret/SCI” documents, four sets of “top secret” documents, three sets of “secret” documents, and three sets of “confidential” documents, according to a property receipt unsealed alongside the warrant Friday. It’s not clear what the documents entailed.

More Details

Trump’s lawyers have argued that the former president used his authority as president to declassify the material before he departed office in early 2021.

“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 as the warrant was unsealed Friday. “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.”

The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a motion to unseal the warrant unless Trump objects to the move. The filing came around the same time Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he personally approved the FBI’s search in Florida.

“Not only will I not oppose the release of the documents,” Trump wrote Thursday, referring to the FBI’s warrant. “I am going a step further by encouraging the immediate release of those documents,” he said.

And on Friday, Trump posted that the documents the FBI alleged seized were “all declassified” and agents “they could have had [the documents] anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago.” He added, “It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday that some documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items sought by the FBI. But Trump on Friday morning said the report is a hoax and a continuation of the Trump-Russia collusion narrative that was pushed by legacy news outlets, who often published discredited, spurious claims.

Republicans have said the unprecedented FBI raid is a politicized attempt to target a former president who is currently mulling a 2024 run.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote on Twitter that “Attorney General Garland must release the information as to why a warrant was necessary, not what was taken … they can redact the names and other sensitive information, but DOJ must lay their cards on the table.”

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