US Department of Justice releases new details about investigation into Trump documents

WASHINGTON, Aug 26 (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday released new details of its investigation into government documents that former President Donald Trump removed from the White House, including 184 classified documents, some of which were labeled as “top secret”. and contained sensitive information about government informants and intelligence gathering.

A heavily redacted affidavit of documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate that was released on Friday did not itself reveal any major new revelations. But the details of the affidavit could help explain why the Justice Department sought court approval for an Aug. 8 search of the Florida compound.

Much of the 32-page affidavit remains sealed.

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In a separate filing released Friday, the Justice Department said the information must be kept confidential to protect a “significant number of civilian witnesses,” as well as law enforcement and the integrity of the investigation itself. same. Much of this court file has also been redacted.

The FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations Trump has faced since his tenure and in private matters. The former Republican president has hinted that he may run for the White House again. He described the research as politically motivated.

The FBI action was part of a federal investigation into whether Trump unlawfully deleted documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, and whether he tried to obstruct the government’s investigation.

According to the document released on Friday, an unidentified FBI agent said the US National Archives discovered dozens of “classification-marked documents” containing “national defense information” when they recovered 15 boxes from Mar- a-Lago in January.

The agent who wrote the affidavit said that after the FBI reviewed the first batch of files, he believed there was probable reason to believe that other documents were still inside. Mar-a-Lago.

“There are also probable reasons to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the scene,” the officer added.

Files unsealed on Friday also showed how Trump’s lawyers tried to convince the Justice Department not to pursue a criminal investigation, arguing that Trump had the power to declassify documents.

“Any attempt to impose criminal liability on a president or former president involving his actions regarding documents marked classified would involve serious constitutional separation of powers issues,” Trump attorney Evan Corcoran wrote in a letter. of May 25 to the head of the Ministry of Justice. of counterintelligence.

“Beyond that, the primary criminal law that governs the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material does not apply to the president,” he added.

The FBI agent said a preliminary review of records received by the Archives in the 15 boxes, which was conducted between May 16 and May 18, found 184 “unique documents” labeled as classified. Of these, 67 were marked “confidential”, while 92 were marked as “secret” and 25 were marked as “top secret”.

Other defense-related documents, meanwhile, contained references to items such as confidential human sources that assist the United States in its intelligence gathering.

The agent added that there were probable grounds to search a number of rooms inside Mar-a-Lago, including a storage room and Trump’s residential suit as well as “Pine Hall” and the “45 Office”.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen, Mike Scarcella and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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