US Justice Department releases Donald Trump search affidavit

Redacted document provides more information about evidence that led to unprecedented search of Mar-a-Lago this month.

The US Justice Department on Friday released a redacted version of the legal document that allowed the FBI to seize classified government records from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.

The move was highly anticipated to shed more light on evidence that led to the unprecedented search.

US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who had approved the warrant that led to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8, had ordered the unsealing of the redacted affidavit by noon (1600 GMT) on Friday.

“The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records,” the 32-page affidavit began.

“The FBI’s investigation has established that documents bearing classification markings, which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI), were among the materials contained in the FIFTEEN BOXES and were stored at the PREMISES in an unauthorized location,” the FBI affidavit read.

According to the affidavit, officials found in those boxes 184 classified documents, including 25 documents marked as top secret. Agents who inspected the boxes found sensitive information about government informants and intelligence-gathering.

“There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified [information] or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at [Mar-a-Lago],” the FBI document added.

“There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at [Mar-a-Lago.],” the affidavit continued.

Trump has reacted with outrage to the publication of the redacted affidavit. On the online service Truth Social, which he launched earlier this year, Trump accused the FBI and the Justice Department of a “total public relations subterfuge.”

The search in Florida marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business.

The Republican former president had suggested he might run for the White House again.

The FBI action was part of a federal probe into whether Trump illegally removed documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, and whether he tried to obstruct the government’s investigation.