A magistrate judge had ordered the redacted affidavit to be placed in the public docket by noon on Friday after evaluating the DOJ’s proposed redactions on Thursday.
According to a coalition of news outlets, the revelation was in the public’s best interest.
The special agent from the FBI who was tasked with drafting the affidavit supporting the search of Mar-a-Lago
According to Lago, they had “probable reason to think that more papers that include classified [National Defense Information] or that are Presidential records subject to record retention rules now remain at [Mar a Lago]” as a consequence of their ongoing criminal investigation.
“There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at [Mar a Lago],” the affidavit continues.
The redacted affidavit is a total of 32 pages with an attachment, including a May 25 letter signed by former President Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran outlining what is described as Trump’s authorities regarding presidential records.
The portions of the affidavit that have not been redacted show the progression of the Justice Department’s inquiry before its historic decision to search a former president’s home.
The affidavit states that the investigation began after a special agent for the National Archives’ inspector general made a criminal referral to DOJ after learning that the 15 boxes that Trump’s staff turned over in January had “highly secret materials” mixed in with other ordinary paperwork.
Further conversations between NARA and Trump’s team to get the return of records that were illegally removed from the White House are described in the affidavit.
Between May 16-18, the affidavit says, an FBI review revealed that in those 15 boxes handed over in January 2021 there were 184 total documents bearing the following classifications:
67 papers with the designation CONFIDENTIAL 92 papers with the SECRET flagged 25 papers with the designation TOP SECRET.
“Additionally, the FBI investigators noticed markings that showed the following compartments/dissemination controls: HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI, according to the affidavit. My education and experience have taught me that [National Defense Information] is often found in documents classified at these levels. Additionally, a number of the documents included what appeared to be handwritten annotations from the FPOTUS.”
The affidavit then describes conversations between the DOJ and Evan Corcoran, one of Trump’s senior attorneys, in May 2021. Corcoran asserted that Trump had the “full right to declassify records” and requested that the letter be given to any grand jury looking into the situation.
The filing then further references a public Breitbart article from May 5 featuring an interview with former top Trump aide Kash Patel, who sought to rebut claims Trump took classified materials to Mar-a-Lago because he claimed Trump had declassified the docs en masse. There’s no evidence this happened, however, and Trump’s team has produced no such documentation proving as much.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) later describes a letter from one of its lawyers to Corcoran in the affidavit, in which the lawyer “reiterated” that Mar-a-Lago was not permitted to store classified information and asked that the room where the documents were kept be made more secure and that the documents “be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice.” This is a direct request from DOJ that the documents not be removed from the room; there is no reference in this part of DOJ telling the president’s team to simply add a lock on the room, unlike what Trump’s legal team has frequently stated.
There is probable cause to believe that documents containing classified NDI and presidential records are still on the premises, according to a subsequent unredacted header.
And following several pages of redacted lines, the affidavit agent concludes that, “Based upon this investigation, I believe that the STORAGE ROOM, FPOTUS’s residential suite, Pine Hall, the “45 Office,” and other spaces within the PREMISES are not currently authorized locations for the storage of classified information or NDI. Similarly, based upon this investigation, I do not believe that any spaces within the PREMISES have been authorized for the storage of classified information at least since the end of FPOTUS ‘s Presidential Administration on January 20, 2021.”
“As described above, evidence of the SUBJECT OFFENSES has been stored in multiple locations at the PREMISES,” the affidavit says.
“The main thing that the affidavit does is walk us through how this investigation unfolded. First, the National Archives in 2021 learned that there were a significant number of missing presidential records from the Trump administration. As a result of negotiations with President Trump, 15 boxes were sent from Mar-a-Lago to the national archives in January of this year,” news channels reported. “What they found was deeply disturbing highly classified materials. National Archives officials were so concerned that they turned over these boxes to the FBI this past May. We have a breakdown of what was in those boxes. There were 184 documents marked classified among them 92 secret and 25 top secret.”
In their original request for sealing the affidavit, the agent states that keeping it sealed was necessary because the FBI had still “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,” the affidavit states.
A Privilege Review Team distinct from the ‘Case Team’ would search Trump’s personal office, according to the affidavit, and they would “be available to help in the event that a procedure involving potentially attorney-client confidential information is required.”
The declaration states that the documents or data will be given to the law enforcement personnel involved in the inquiry “if the Privilege Review Team deems the documents or data are not potentially attorney-client private.”