The warrant authorizing federal agents to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was unsealed Friday by a federal judge, after the Justice Department requested that it be made public.
Federal authorities sought a range of highly sensitive documents, including 11 caches of classified materials, indicating that the federal investigation was examining possible violations of the Espionage Act, according to documents unsealed Friday.
The action came shortly after the Department of Justice wrote in a new court filing Friday that, after conferring with Trump's attorneys, the former president does not object to making the search warrant of his Mar-a-Lago estate public.
Before the document was released, details of what the FBI was looking for in its Monday search started to be reported, including that FBI agents who searched Trump's home retrieved boxes that included 11 sets of classified documents, said a person who has reviewed the documents.
Read the search warrant: Read the FBI's search warrant for Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property
“Not only will I not oppose the release of the documents,” Trump said in a statement late Thursday, “I am going a step further by encouraging the immediate release of those documents.”
►FBI agents who searched Donald Trump's home this week retrieved boxes that included 11 sets of classified documents, said a person who has reviewed the documents. The person declined to discuss details of the documents.
►The warrant: The warrant signed by a federal magistrate that authorized FBI agents to search Mar-a-Lago seeks documents, records, contraband, fruits of crime or other items illegally possessed in violation of gathering, transmitting or losing national defense information.
►The investigation: A warrant shows the former president is being investigated for possibly breaking three federal laws: removal or destruction of records, obstructing an investigation, and violating the Espionage Act. That doesn't mean that investigators believe Trump is a spy. It is more likely the probe is focused on the careless handling of classified information, making it easier to be accessed by spies, attorneys said.
►The inventory: About half of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago had confidential, secret or top-secret classifications.
►The Washington Post reported Thursday that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items sought by FBI agents in the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence Monday, citing anonymous sources. Trump responded on Truth Social calling the report a "hoax."
The full document: Read the FBI's search warrant for Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago property
Though Mar-a-Lago warrant released, Palm Beach Post asking court for entire documents
Even though the search warrant and inventory of items taken from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach were released Friday, the legal battle isn’t over.
The Palm Beach Post and more than a dozen other news organizations will continue to fight to convince U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart to release a probable cause affidavit that will offer more details about why Monday’s unprecedented search was initiated.
“The most interesting document – the affidavit containing the evidence that supports the court’s decision to issue the warrant remains sealed – at least for now,” said attorney Martin Reeder, who is representing The Post.
– Jane Musgrave, Palm Beach Post
Trump claims Mar-a-Lago documents were 'declassified.' Why experts reject that argument.
Former President Donald Trump claimed Friday that any sensitive documents FBI agents took during a search at his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida, were "all declassified."
But experts said constitutional powers authorizing a president to declassify documents don't apply to records classified as top-secret or higher, as the information contained in them is usually protected by other federal laws designed to make sure it never falls into the wrong hands.
"Even if, in fact, what he represents has taken place, there still can be exceedingly sensitive information that is required by law to be protected from unauthorized disclosure," said J. William Leonard, the former head of the U.S. National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office.
– Joey Garrison and Josh Meyer
Were the documents 'declassified'?: Trump claims Mar-a-Lago documents were 'declassified.' Why experts reject that argument.
What is the Espionage Act?
An old piece of anti-spy legislation is back in the headlines after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago residence for classified materials they believe he took from the White House.
The FBI has cited the Espionage Act as a catalyst for its document seizure, and reported uncovering materials marked "top secret/SCI."
But what is the Espionage Act, and why was it created?
The Espionage Act of 1917, enacted just after the beginning of World War I, makes it illegal to obtain information, capture photographs or copy descriptions of any information relating to national defense, with the intent for that information to be used against the United States or for the gain of any foreign nation.
– Anna Kaufman
What is the Espionage Act?: What is the Espionage Act? What to know, from the Sedition Act amendment to declassified documents.
No hints on what top secret documents FBI seized at Trump's Mar-a-Lago
WASHINGTON – The government says former President Donald Trump stored caches of "secret" and "top secret" documents at his Florida resort, but provided no clear hints of what they might contain.
Instead of details or examples, the search warrant unsealed Friday contained line items referring to the seizure of "miscellaneous secret documents," "miscellaneous top secret documents," and "miscellaneous confidential documents."
Whatever their contents, however, they are now the basis of an investigation that possibly implicate criminal laws prohibiting improper removal of classified documents, obstruction of justice, and possible violations of the the Espionage Act.
-- David Jackson and Kevin Johnson
Read the whole analysis here: FBI seized top secret documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago, ut gave no clear hints on what they are
Roger Stone grant of clemency seized from Mar-a-Lago
The document that former President Donald Trump signed to commute the prison sentence of his friend Roger Stone was among the documents the FBI seized at Mar-a-Lago on Monday.
The property receipt filed by the Department of Justice lists an "executive grant of clemency re: Roger Jason Stone, Jr," in addition to top secret and other classified documents that were seized that day.
A Republican political operative for more than three decades, Roger Stone helped Trump get elected in 2016 and became a member of the former president's inner circle. In fallout from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia, he was convicted of lying to Congress to protect the president.
-- Erin Mansfield
Read the whole story here: Roger Stone grant of clemency seized from Mar-a-Lago. What to know about pardon document.
What's in the search warrant?
What could be seized?: The warrant allowed for the FBI to seize any documents possessed illegally in violation of the Espionage Act. That included boxes of documents with classification markings, information about the retrieval, storage or transmission of national defense or classified material, any presidential records created during Trump's term, and any information about the alteration, destruction or concealment of government records or documents with classification markings.
What was taken?: The FBI seized about twodozen boxes of documents, including 10 sets of documents labeled "secret," "top secret" and "confidential." It also retrieved "classified/TS/SCI documents," an abbreviation for "top secret/sensitive compartmented information."
Was anything taken that wasn't classified?: Also among the items the FBI seized were the grant of clemency for Roger Stone, information about the president of France, binders of photos, a leather-bound box of documents and other records.
Read the whole description here: The search warrant for Trump's Mar-a-Lago home has been released. Here's what it says
What we know, don’t know about what was taken from Mar-a-Lago
About half of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence, had confidential, secret or top-secret classifications.
Of the 39 items recovered by federal agents, many are listed with a box number, but no further details.
Some items are labeled more specifically, such as an executive grant of clemency for Roger Stone and information regarding the president of France.
But many items are marked as miscellaneous secret documents, miscellaneous top-secret documents, confidential document, a potential presidential record, binders of photos and numbered boxes.
-- Candy Woodall
The ’45 Office’
According to the warrant agents searched locations, including a room designated as the "45 Office, all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used” by the former president and his staff.
Other items included on a receipt provided to Trump and his attorneys, listing the material removed, included tantalizing references to a document related to the 2020 clemency granted to longtime adviser Roger Stone, a line item referencing the “President of France” and other more innocuous seizures: two binders of undesignated photographs and a “handwritten note.”
-- Kevin Johnson
Who is Roger Stone?: What to know about the longtime Trump ally and Republican strategist
Extraordinary risk’ – former Archives official
Trump’s handling of classified documents, especially bringing them to Mar-a-Lago where potentially hundreds of “friends of club members” had access to them, represents an extraordinary risk to national security on a wide range of fronts, said J. William Leonard, the former head of the U.S. National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office and the government's overseer of classification of records.
That is especially the case, he said, regarding nuclear weapons technology, covert operations, spying and military sources and methods and other government secrets that would be devastating if they fell into the wrong hands.
Given the freewheeling atmosphere and access to the public at Mar-a-Lago, a members only club, “If a foreign intelligence operatives haven't already attempted, if not succeeded in penetrating Mar Lago, I'd be very surprised, Leonard told USA TODAY. “It just boggles my mind in terms of how did we ever get to this point where, you know, we're concerned about the busboy catering wedding (at Mar-a-Lago) gaining access to nuclear secrets.”
-- Josh Meyer
FBI agents retrieved information classified top secret and sensitive
Among the trove of classified information retrieved was material designated at one of the highest levels of classification: Top Secret/SCI, or sensitive compartmented information.
The actual nature of the information was not detailed in the warrant, though the document indicated that FBI agents had recovered some 20 boxes of information.
According to the warrant agents search a location known as the "45 Office, all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used” by the president and his staff.
– Kevin Johnson
DOJ warrant indicates Trump being investigated in with connection with statutes related to espionage, obstruction
A search warrant reveals the Justice Department is investigating Donald Trump in with connection with statutes related to the Espionage Act and obstruction.
About half the documents removed from Trump’s Florida estate were marked with the highest security classifications, and the warrant shows the former president is being investigated for possibly breaking three federal laws: removal or destruction of records, obstructing an investigation, and violating the Espionage Act.
The investigation stems from how Trump handled national security information and reached a fever pitch Monday when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago.
FBI agents found 11 sets of classified records, including some marked top secret.
– Candy Woodall
Read the search warrant on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate
DOJ says Trump does not object to making search warrant public
The Department of Justice wrote in a new court filing that, after conferring with former president Donald Trump's attorneys, he does not object to making the search warrant public.
The judge said Thursday that the government needed to serve Trump with its motion to unseal the search warrant and report back by 3 p.m. EDT. This document, filed in response to the judge, said Trump did not object and reiterated the motion to unseal the search warrant.
– Erin Mansfield
DOJ due to update court by 3 p.m.
The Department of Justice is due to update the Southern District of Florida by 3 p.m. EDT as to whether former president Donald Trump opposes the government’s motion to unseal.
Because of lags in filing documents with the judiciary’s online records system, the update may not become public until after 3 p.m.
Trump wrote on social media Thursday night that he supports releasing the search warrant, but so far no document saying so has been published in the public court records system.
– Erin Mansfield
National Archives responds to Trump claims about Obama files
The National Archives on Friday responded to misinformation former President Donald Trump has spread about how his predecessor handled government records as he exited office.
When President Barack Obama left office in 2017, the National Archives and Records Administration moved about 30 million pages of unclassified records to a facility in Chicago where the federal agency continues to maintain them. It also oversees classified Obama Administration files at a Washington facility, according to a statement released Friday.
“As required by the (Presidential Records Act), former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the presidential records of his administration," according to the statement.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that Obama kept millions of documents, including classified material.
“How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots,” he said in a prepared statement earlier Friday.
The Washington Post reported that some of the documents FBI agents sought in a search of Trump’s estate related to nuclear weapons.
– Rick Rouan
Roger Stone’s clemency document seized from Mar-a-Lago, WSJ reports
The executive grant of clemency that former President Donald Trump issued for ally Roger Stone was among the documents the FBI seized at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump commuted Stone’s sentence in July 2020, days before Stone was to begin serving a 40-month prison sentence.
Stone, whose charges came as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, was found guilty in 2019 of lying to Congress and obstructing the investigation.
– Erin Mansfield
FBI agents retrieved 11 sets of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago search
FBI agents who searched Donald Trump's home this week retrieved boxes that included 11 sets of classified documents, said a person who has reviewed the documents.
The person declined to discuss details of the documents
The Wall Street Journal reported that "agents collected four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents, and three sets of confidential documents. The list didn’t provide any more details about the substance of the documents."
– David Jackson
Wall Street Journal: FBI recovered classified documents marked top secret
Federal agents who searched the Mar-a-Lago estate of former President Donald Trump removed 11 sets of classified documents, some marked as top secret, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A list of items removed from the property, obtained by the Journal, included binders of photos, a handwritten note, information about the “President of France” and the executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone. Some 20 boxes of items were taken by the FBI.
The list, which is contained in a seven-page document that also includes the property search warrant, includes references to one set of documents deemed “Various classified/TS/SCI documents,” which is an abbreviation for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,” according to the Journal. Agents also collected four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents, according to the list obtained by the Journal.
The FBI did not seek access to search private guest rooms, but did ask for access to “the 45 Office” and “all storage rooms and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by [the former president] and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate,” the Journal reported.
- Ella Lee
Trump records investigation: From early red flags to the search at Mar-a-Lago
FBI urges public to report suspicious activity following attempted Cincinnati breach
After an armed man attempted to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office and a wave of anger directed against federal law enforcement following the search of Donald Trump’s Florida estate, the FBI urged the public Friday to report suspicious activity to authorities.
“The FBI is always concerned about violence and threats of violence to law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI,” the bureau said in a statement. “We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous.
“As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately."
The suspect in the Ohio incident, who was later fatally shot in a standoff with police, may have been posting messages to the former president’s Truth Social site during the incident.
FBI Director Christopher Wray defended the bureau Thursday against the increasing stream of threats, saying that “unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others.”
- Kevin Johnson
Trump allies attack warrant - and Garland - before documents released
The paperwork isn't out yet, but Donald Trump supporters are already attacking the Mar-a-Lago search warrant as insufficient.
Their basic argument is "nothing to see here" – no matter what the documents say.
Team Trump also seems to be betting that the release will not include an affidavit that includes specific information about what the ex-president is accused of doing. They are also planning renewed attacks on Attorney General Merrick Garland.
"The expectations for the warrant should be tampered down," tweeted Rudy Giuliani, a former lawyer for Trump. "To weigh the justification, if any, Garland must release the affidavit. Right now we are getting the 'run around.'"
Trump allies are likely seeking to take advantage of a familiar Catch-22: The government suspects someone of dealing in sensitive classified information, but don't want to detail it publicly because it could undercut national security.
Other attorneys point out that, if the warrant is that meaningless, Trump could have released it days ago.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another ally of Trump, tweeted: "Attorney General Garland must release the information as to why a warrant was necessary, not what was taken ... They can redact the names and other sensitive information, but DOJ must lay their cards on the table."
– David Jackson
Pelosi concerned about sensitive info at Mar-a-Lago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her weekly news conference offered few details and little reaction to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago.
Pelosi, who said she has 30 years of experience with national intelligence, said she hasn’t been formally briefed on the situation and knows only what’s in the public domain.
She did express some concern, however, about reports that suggest Trump was storing sensitive information at Mar-a-Lago about nuclear weapons.
“I think what is important to know now is the seriousness of what these documents were alleged to be about…Our concern is always to protect and defend,” Pelosi said.
She did not answer whether there will be a Congressional committee or investigation convened to look into the material Trump was storing.
FBI searched Trump home for nuclear documents, ‘highly classified’ material: reports
Citing anonymous sources, the New York Times reported that investigators were concerned about Trump having material from “special access programs,” which the Times described as a designation saved for sensitive operations carried out by the United States abroad or closely held technologies and capabilities.
Trump’s purported possession of such material has raised concern among government officials that the information could be vulnerable to acquisition efforts by foreign adversaries, the Times reported.
Also citing anonymous sources, The Washington Post reported that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items sought by federal agents.
-- Ella Lee
House intelligence committee Republicans question Mar-a-Lago search
In a Friday press conference, Republican members of the House intelligence committee raised concerns over the Monday search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence by federal agents, calling on the Justice Department to release additional information about the reason it was executed.
“We love our law enforcement officers. We would protect and defend them to thank them for their service, but when we have a brewing matter of distrust, we have to get to the bottom of it and fix it,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., a former FBI agent, said of the search.
Though the committee Republicans said they supported rank-and-file members of the FBI and Justice Department, several questioned whether the agencies’ leadership authorized the search for political reasons. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the No. 3 House Republican, claimed without evidence that the raid was the Biden administration’s attempt to act against his political opponent.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, ranking member of the committee, said that he and other committee members are “certainly” concerned about unsecured classified information possibly being in a storage area, but added that the documents are just one piece of the puzzle.
“Donald Trump has more classified information in his head than he does in his desk," Turner said.
-- Candy Woodall, Ella Lee
‘#BillionDollarLawyer’ joins Trump legal team in Georgia
While Donald Trump’s legal troubles are focused, for now, on the search of his Florida estate, a high-profile lawyer has joined the former president’s legal team to deal with a far-reaching criminal investigation into election interference led by the Atlanta-area district attorney.
Drew Findling, a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and counselor to rap artists and professional athletes, will now advise a former president, along with attorneys Jennifer Little and Dwight Thomas.
“We are committed to fighting this misuse of the law and taxpayer resources,” Findling’s firm said in a statement. “The team is confident that there have been no violations of Georgia law. The focus on President Trump may be newsworthy, but this investigation is wholly misdirected and politically driven.”
Findling has long been a prominent figure on the Atlanta legal scene who not only maintains a distinguished client list but a colorful Twitter account that carries the hashtag #BillionDollarLawyer.
-- Kevin Johnson
Trump under scrutiny: Mar-a-Lago document inquiry is one of many investigations Trump faces
When will we see the Trump search documents?
Lawyers, journalists, government officials and political professionals across the world are busy refreshing websites Friday while waiting to see records from the search of Donald Trump's home.
Only one thing unites them: No one has any idea when the search warrant and related documents will actually surface.
Could be Friday; could be next week.
The only thing known is that Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart asked the Justice Department to submit a filing by mid-afternoon today:
"On or before 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on August 12, 2022, the United States shall file a certificate of conferral advising whether former President Trump opposes the Government's motion to unseal."
Reinhart then has to decide when and how to order release of the documents – and no one is saying how that might play out.
For one thing, the Justice Department will likely redact details they say are related to national security, the trigger for the search in the first place.
In the meantime: Keep refreshing.
-- David Jackson
Cincinnati FBI breach suspect may have posted on Trump's Truth Social during incident
The man who authorities say attempted to breach security at an Ohio FBI office Thursday morning may have been posting messages to former President Donald Trump's Truth Social site, even as he was engaged in the attempted incursion.
The man, who was shot and killed after a standoff that lasted much of the day, was identified to the Associated Press and others as Ricky Shiffer. A USA TODAY review of online postings by an account in that name shows the account had recently posted angry reactions to news of the FBI raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago Florida home. The same account posted during or just after the incursion at the FBI, appearing to describe the man's efforts.
"Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I., and it'll mean either I was taken off the internet, the F.B.I. got me, or they sent the regular cops while"
The post apparently ended mid-sentence. Truth Social deleted the profile for "@rickywshifferjr" Thursday afternoon, shortly after media reports began identifying Shiffer.
-- Will Carless
Read the whole story here: Suspect in Cincinnati FBI breach may have posted on Trump's Truth Social during incident
House Republicans on intelligence committee probe Mar-a-Lago search
Republican members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will offer their defense of embattled former President Donald Trump during a 9 a.m. news conference Friday at the Capitol, where they will demand more answers about the Monday search at Mar-a-Lago.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the lead Republican on the committee, said Thursday he was “unaware of any actual or alleged national security threat posed by any information, data or documents in the possession of former President Trump.”
A report from the Washington Post Thursday night said, “Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought” at Mar-a-Lago.
That was of concern to Rep. Val Demmings, D-Fla., one of the majority members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“The Justice Department should continue to act with total independence as it works to safeguard classified national security secrets,” she said Thursday night.
-- Candy Woodall
Unprecedented: Donald Trump's scandals are unique in history. Here's how.
Palm Beach Post asking court to unseal 'entire' Mar-a-Lago search warrant
Although the Justice Department on Thursday moved to unseal a warrant that allowed FBI agents to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, The Palm Beach Post filed court papers to ensure the entire warrant – not just parts of it – are available to the public.
In the motion filed late Thursday, the Post joined other news organizations that claim the release of all documents connected to the warrant is needed to rein in wild speculation about why the nation’s top law enforcement agency took the unprecedented step of asking to search the home of a former president. The request to unseal the warrant could keep key parts of it off-limits to the public, said attorney Martin Reeder, who is representing the Post.
“The scope of all the warrant materials is broader than what the government is addressing,” Reeder said. “The government is only speaking to some of these documents.”
The Palm Beach Post is part of the USA TODAY network.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump Mar-a-Lago estate warrant unsealed by federal judge