Federal investigators seized several confidential documents — some that appeared to be top secret — during a search Monday of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court records unsealed Friday.
Items taken from the estate include an executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone, binders of photos, a handwritten note and documents deemed to be top secret and “SCI,” or sensitive compartmented information.
Authorities are investigating the former president on suspicion of violating the Espionage Act, obstructing an investigation and removing or destroying records, documents show. The former president has denied any wrongdoing.
Records show the warrant was issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Aug. 5 but not executed until Monday night. It allowed authorities to search areas including the “45 Office” and storage rooms. Private guest suites and other areas in Mar-a-Lago not used by Trump were excluded from the search.
A judge unsealed the records, which include a search warrant and a receipt for property issued by the Justice Department, after officials said that Trump’s attorneys would not fight an effort by the government to make the records public.
In a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich called Monday’s search a “botched raid” and said that authorities seized “the President’s picture books, a ‘handwritten note,’ and declassified documents.”
“This raid of President Trump’s home was not just unprecedented, but unnecessary,” Budowich said, according to the newspaper.
On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said prosecutors had moved to unseal the search warrant, citing the president’s public confirmation of the search and the public interest. In a post on social media, Trump said that he would not oppose the release but instead encouraged it.
Garland on Thursday declined to specify what prompted Monday’s search, citing “federal law, longstanding department rules and our ethical obligations.” The former president has decried the incident as politically motivated. On Friday, he insisted that any information taken from Mar-a-Lago was declassified and that authorities could have accessed the records if they had asked him instead of executing a search warrant.
Months before Monday’s search, the 45th president was served a subpoena aiming to recover documents that authorities believed he had failed to turn over earlier in the year, according to The New York Times.
Officials served Trump with the subpoena in spring, the Times reported, citing unidentified sources. Authorities believed Trump failed to turn over documents that were so sensitive that it required the Justice Department to step in, according to the newspaper.
Officials with the National Archives and Records Administration said earlier this year that they arranged in January to get 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago that contained presidential records that should have been turned over to officials at the end of Trump’s presidency in January 2021.
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