Washington: The FBI seized 11 sets of classified records during the search of former US President Donald J Trump’s Florida property Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, including some materials marked as “top secret/sensitive compartmented information”. The judge authorized the FBI to search what the bureau called the “45 Office” as well as “all other rooms or areas” at Mar-a-Lago that were available to former President Trump and his staff for storing boxes and documents.
The search warrant identifies three possible federal crimes as the reasoning behind the search: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and criminal handling of government records. According to the unsealed warrant, the FBI collected photos and information about the president of France, among other things.
One of the newly unsealed documents is a search warrant “receipt” revealing that FBI agents removed more than 20 boxes from the former President’s resort and residence in Palm Beach, Florida, as well as binders of photos, and sets of classified government materials and at least one handwritten note, CNN reported. Federal agents seized just one set of “top secret/SCI” documents, according to the search warrant receipt.
Agents took four sets of “top secret” documents, three sets of “secret” documents, and three sets of “confidential” documents. Among the items, there is a document about pardoning Roger Stone, a staunch Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Stone-related material taken from Mar-a-Lago was listed in the warrant receipt as “Executive Grant of Clemency re: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.”
Trump pardoned Stone before leaving office, shielding Stone from a three-year prison term. It’s unclear how the Stone-related document seized during the search is tied to the broader criminal probe into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified materials, according to CNN. “Stone has no knowledge as to the facts surrounding his clemency documents appearing on the inventory of items seized from former President Trump`s home at Mar-a-Lago,” Stone’s spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago’s bureau called the “45 Office” as well as “all other rooms or areas” was signed by federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Friday. FBI agents waited until Monday this week to execute the search. “The locations to be searched include the ‘45 Office,’ all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate,” the warrant says, using the acronym “FPOTUS” to refer to the former President of the United States.
The FBI’s warrant application to the judge specifically said that federal agents would avoid areas being rented or used by third parties, “such as Mar-a-Lago members” and “private guest suites.” “It is described as a mansion with approximately 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, on a 17-acre estate,” FBI agents told the judge in their application when describing the Mar-a-Lago property, reported CNN. On Monday, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided Trump`s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Shortly after the reports, Trump in a statement said, “My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”
After the FBI came under fire from Republican supporters for the raid on Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. Garland said he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter.”
“Second, the Department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” he said. “Third, let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” he added.