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FBI recovers top-secret documents from Trump’s home

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The FBI recovered documents that were labeled “top secret” from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, according to court documents released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the order authorizing the raid this week.

A declassified court receipt shows that FBI agents removed 11 boxes of confidential documents from the property in Monday’s operation.

Among them are some that carried the classification of top secret and also “compartmentalized sensitive information”, a special category that seeks to protect the most important secrets of the nation that, if publicly revealed, could cause “exceptionally serious” damage to the interests Americans. Court records did not provide details about what information the documents might contain.

The search warrant details that federal agents were investigating possible violations of three federal laws, including one that regulates the collection, transmission or loss of defense information under the Espionage Act. The other two deal with the concealment, mutilation or removal of documents, and the destruction or falsification of files from federal investigations.

The acknowledgment of receipt also shows that federal agents collected other potential presidential documents, such as the order to pardon Roger Stone (a Trump ally); “a box of documents lined in leather” and information about the “president of France”. A folder of photographs, a handwritten note, “miscellaneous secret documents” and “miscellaneous confidential documents” were also taken during the search.

Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, who was present at Mar-a-Lago during the raid, signed the two acknowledgments, one two-page and one single.

In an earlier statement Friday, Trump claimed that all the documents seized by the agents were “declassified” and argued that he would have turned them over to the Justice Department if asked.

Although sitting presidents generally have the authority to declassify information, that authority expires when they leave office, and it was unclear whether the documents in question were declassified. And even declassification powers may be limited when it comes to secrets related to nuclear weapons programs, covert operations and some data shared with allies.

Trump maintained possession of the documents despite numerous requests from federal agencies to turn over the presidential records in accordance with federal law.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant executed Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House documents recovered from Trump’s home earlier this year. The National Archives had asked the agency to investigate after saying that 15 boxes of files they recovered from the mansion included secret documents.

It is not known whether the Justice Department decided to execute the search warrant simply as a way to recover the documents or as part of a broader criminal investigation. Various federal laws regulate the handling of confidential information and presidential records, and those who misuse them face civil and criminal penalties.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, the same judge who signed the search warrant, authorized the release of the search warrant and acknowledgments at the request of the Justice Department, after Secretary Merrick Garland stated that there was “a substantial public interest.” in this matter” and Trump said he supported the “immediate” publication of the order. The Justice Department told the judge Friday afternoon that the former president’s attorneys did not object to the proposal to release those documents.

In messages posted on his Truth Social network, Trump wrote: “Not only will I not oppose the release of the documents…I am going a step further by encouraging the immediate release of those documents.”

The Justice Department’s request was notable because those documents traditionally remain sealed during an ongoing investigation, but the agency apparently acknowledged that its silence since the raid had created an opportunity for the former president and his allies to launch verbal attacks, and felt the The public is entitled to an explanation from the FBI about the cause of Monday’s operation at the former president’s home.

“The clear and powerful interest of the public in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of removing the seal,” states a petition filed Thursday in Florida federal court.

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