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DOJ Releases Heavily Redacted Affidavit Used To Justify FBI Raid On Trump

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DALLAS, TEXAS - AUGUST 06: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 06, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. CPAC began in 1974, and is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders in discussing current events and future political agendas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday released a heavily redacted copy of an affidavit underlying a FBI search warrant executed against former President Donald Trump earlier this month.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the DOJ to submit a version of the affidavit to the court earlier this week for release to the public. The Justice Department submitted a copy of the affidavit to the court Thursday, which Reinhart reviewed and ordered released to the public by noon on Friday.

The court unsealed a heavily redacted affidavit that the FBI submitted to Reinhart on August 5 requesting the judge approve a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort. Of the 32-page affidavit, 11 pages are almost entirely redacted, with more redactions throughout the document. In a companion document released on Friday, the DOJ explained the need for its proposed redactions to the court. Those explanations were also heavily redacted.

Trump, in his first comments since the affidavit was made public, targeted Judge Reinhart.

“Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home. He recused himself two months ago from one of my cases based on his animosity and hatred of your favorite President, me,” Trump wrote on his Truth social account. “What changed? Why hasn’t he recused himself on this case? Obama must be very proud of him right now!”

The identity of the FBI agent who submitted the affidavit is redacted, but the document does describe him as an agent with the bureau’s Washington, D.C., field office specializing in “counterintelligence and espionage investigations.”

“I am a Special Agent with the FBI assigned to the Washington Field Office [redacted.] During this time, I have received training at the FBI Academy located at Quantico, Virginia, specific to counterintelligence and espionage investigations,” the affidavit says. “Based on my experience and training, I am familiar with efforts used to unlawfully collect, retain, and disseminate sensitive government information, including classified NDI.”

The counterintelligence division in the FBI’s Washington field office is purportedly under internal investigation for its role and misconduct during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into false claims about Trump’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign for president. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress earlier this month that accountability over Crossfire Hurricane has slowed “slowed” to accommodate special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of Crossfire Hurricane.

Real Clear Investigations reported last week that the investigation into the records seized during the Mar-a-Lago raid is being headed by the Washington field office’s counterintelligence division.

The affidavit says that the FBI’s decision to raid Trump’s residence is at least partly due to a review of boxes the former president sent to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in January 2022. NARA officials told Trump last year that his removing boxes of documents from the White House before leaving office in January 2021 violated the Presidential Records Act, and that those boxes should be safeguarded at the National Archives.

A FBI review of the records given to the Archives revealed hundreds of classified documents, the affidavit says.

“A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET,” the affidavit says in between heavy redactions.

The affidavit included a May 25 letter from Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to Jay Bratt, the DOJ’s counterintelligence chief. Corcoran warned the DOJ about the appearance of partisanship inherent to investigating a former president and “a leader of the Republican Party.” The Trump attorney also said a sitting president has “the highest level of authority” to declassify and classify information.

“Any attempt to impose criminal liability on a President or former President that involves his actions with respect to documents marked classified would implicate grave constitutional separation-of powers issues,” Corcoran wrote, requesting that the DOJ present his letter, too, if the department brought any investigative action against Trump requiring a judge’s approval.

The FBI in the affidavit reiterated concerns about how documents at Mar-a-Lago were being stored.

The FBI agent in writing the affidavit said a special “Privilege Review” team of FBI agents would be responsible for searching the former president’s office and determining whether documents found within were protected under attorney-client privilege. The affidavit said that the team would also handle any such documents found within the records confiscated by the FBI.

The FBI agent asked for the affidavit to be sealed from public view: “I believe that sealing this document is necessary because the items and information to be seized are relevant to an ongoing investigation and the FBI has not yet identified all potential criminal confederates nor located all evidence related to its investigation. Premature disclosure of the contents of this affidavit and related documents may have a significant and negative impact on the continuing investigation and may severely jeopardize its effectiveness by allowing criminal parties an opportunity to flee, destroy evidence (stored electronically and otherwise), change patterns of behavior, and notify criminal confederates.”

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