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- The DOJ has released a less redacted document underpinning the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.
- A judge ordered the less redacted FBI affidavit’s release after news organizations filed a motion for it to be unsealed.
- Trump has been arraigned and indicted in the case, which could stretch past the 2024 election.
The Department of Justice on Wednesday released a less redacted version of the FBI affidavit underpinning last year’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart signed off on the release earlier Wednesday.
Many of the newly unredacted details were included in the Justice Department’s unprecedented indictment last month of former President Donald Trump. These details were redacted in the initial version of the affidavit that was released last year, shortly after the Mar-a-Lago search and before Trump was formally charged.
One newly revealed item in the affidavit — compared to the version initially released to the public — showed a photograph on page 16 of boxes holding documents stacked in a storage unit. The photo appeared in the indictment that was unsealed on June 9. Next to the photos was a comment from an agent saying they believed Trump held more classified documents and estimated 61 boxes were present.
The less redacted affidavit also lays out how investigators sought and were granted security camera footage of the area where the storage unit is located. They determined that people could still enter the storage unit without being detected and observed footage of people leaving with boxes, the affidavit says.
It provides more details about why the FBI believed there was “probable cause” that documents containing classified material remained on the premises.
Reinhart ordered Wednesday’s release of the less redacted affidavit following a push from numerous news organizations.
He declined to unseal the entire affidavit, however, agreeing with DOJ that “the government has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions of the affidavit are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interests and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire search warrant affidavit.”
The FBI in August 2022 seized boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago that were sought by the National Archives. At the time, Trump was at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.
In subsequent legal filings, the DOJ revealed the search was part of a criminal investigation into whether Trump broke laws including the Espionage Act, and whether he obstructed justice. Some of the records obtained in the search included top-secret national security information.
Of the 37 charges against Trump, 31 are over alleged violations of the Espionage Act for “willful retention of national defense information.” Trump also conspired to obstruct justice, lied to law enforcement, and violated three different statutes related to withholding and concealing government records, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors allege Trump broke federal law when he took classified documents with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, rather than leaving them in the hands of the National Archives, which had discovered apparent missing records and sought their return.