The FBI conducted a search at the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Trump on August 8, looking for classified documents that may have been in his possession. What did they find?
A federal judge has unsealed the search warrant and other documents related to the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago. The court filing also included a receipt for what the FBI found during the search. Read the documents in full here.
The filing that was unsealed today, August 12, 2022, included a receipt for what was collected. It shows the FBI gathered 11 sets of classified documents into evidence, some that were labeled “top secret.” Also among the evidence gathered was a handwritten note, information on the president of France, binders of photos and an executive grant of clemency for Roger Stone, the receipt says.
Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, said in a statement that the FBI “seized paper” in its search of the Palm Beach, Florida property, according to CNN. She also said Trump is cooperating with the investigation.
“President Trump and his legal team have been cooperative with FBI and DOJ officials every step of the way,” she said. “The FBI did conduct an unannounced raid and seized paper.”
Eric Trump, Trump’s son, spoke about the raid August 8 on Fox News and said the findings were meant to corroborate what was in his possession, based on what was in the National Archives. He told Fox that “the purpose of the raid, from what they said, was because the National Archives wanted to, you know, corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.”
Trump wrote a reaction to the raid on his social media platform, Truth Social. He wrote:
These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.
“They even broke into my safe!” he added later in the post.
As for the safe, Eric Trump said on Fox News, “He didn’t even have anything in the safe.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The National Archives Retrieved 15 Boxes of Documents From Trump in January, Which Prompted Them to Contact the Justice Department
A federal law requires official records be handed over to the National Archives when a president leaves office, but the National Archives office said in January that they retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Trump, according to The Wall Street Journal. The documents included correspondence between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and a letter that former President Barack Obama left for Trump as his successor, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The National Archives office said some of the presidential records it received had been torn up. The find prompted the office to contact the Department of Justice, the newspaper reported.
“NARA has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes,” David S. Ferriero, the U.S. archivist, wrote in a letter to Rep. House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a New York Democrat. “Because NARA identified classified information in the boxes, NARA staff has been in communication with the Department of Justice.”
Removing Classified Materials Is a Crime With a Penalty of Up to 5 Years in Prison
Moving classified materials to an unauthorized location is a crime punishable of up to five years in prison upon conviction, according to The Wall Street Journal. Penalties can also include disqualification from running for national office, including president, the newspaper reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump was in New York at the time of the raid, which lasted from Monday morning to Monday evening.
“It is a federal crime to remove classified documents wrongly. And so if you are filling out that affidavit and you have to list the crime, you can list that as the crime,” Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor told CNN.
Honig said that the timing may have been related to an FBI rule not to execute politically sensitive moves within 90 days of an election.
“Today is just about 90 days out exactly from the midterms, I think maybe 91 or 92 days out,” he said. “That policy, that may be a reason why they did it today because they want to stay clear of that if they’re interpreting that as a 90 day rule.”