WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday unveiled new details about its investigation into government papers 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 about documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate that was released on Friday did not itself unveil any major new revelations. But the details in the affidavit could help explain why the Justice Department sought court approval for an Aug. 8 search at the Florida resort.
Much of the 32-page affidavit remains under seal.
In a separate filing made public Friday, the Justice Department said that information must remain confidential to protect a “significant number of civilian witnesses,” as well as law enforcement and the integrity of the investigation itself. Much of that court filing was also redacted.
The search by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business.
The Republican former president has suggested he might run for the White House again. He has described the search as politically motivated.
The FBI action was part of a federal probe into whether Trump illegally removed 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.
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According to the document released on Friday, an unidentified FBI agent said that the U.S. National Archives had discovered scores of “documents bearing classification markings” containing “national defense information” when it recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January.
The agent who drafted the affidavit said that after the FBI had reviewed the initial batch of records, it believed there was probable cause to believe more documents were still inside Mar-a-Lago.
“There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises,” the agent added.
The records unsealed on Friday also showed how Trump’s attorneys tried to convince the Justice Department not to pursue a criminal investigation, arguing Trump had the authority to declassify documents.