News ID: 323451
Published: 0223 GMT August 13, 2022

FBI seized top secret documents in Trump estate search

FBI seized top secret documents in Trump estate search
REUTERS
Former U.S. president Donald Trump departs Trump Tower for a deposition in New York City on August 10, two days after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home.

By Javad Mohammad Ali

The FBI recovered “top secret” and even more sensitive documents from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court papers released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized the sudden, unprecedented search this week.

A property receipt unsealed by the court shows FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from the estate during a search on Monday, AP reported.

The seized records include some marked not only top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.

The warrant says federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

The property receipt also shows federal agents collected other potential presidential records, including the order pardoning Trump ally Roger Stone, a “leatherbound box of documents,” and information about the “President of France.” A binder of photos, a handwritten note, “miscellaneous secret documents” and “miscellaneous confidential documents” were also seized in the search.

Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, who was present at Mar-a-Lago when the agents conducted the search, signed two property receipts – one that was two pages long and another that is a single page.

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

While incumbent presidents generally have the power to declassify information, that authority lapses as soon as they leave office and it was not clear if the documents in question have ever been declassified. And even an incumbent’s powers to declassify may be limited regarding secrets dealing with nuclear weapons programs, covert operations and operatives, and some data shared with allies.

Trump kept possession of the documents despite multiple requests from agencies, including the National Archives, to turn over presidential records in accordance with federal law.

 

 

 

 

   
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