FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from Trump’s estate

·2-min read
US Attorney General Merrick Garland (REUTERS)
US Attorney General Merrick Garland (REUTERS)

The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified records that were labeled “top secret” from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court papers.

The seized records include some that were marked as classified and top secret. The court records did not provide specific details about the documents or what information they might contain.

In a statement on Friday, Trump claimed that the documents seized by agents at his Florida club were “all declassified,” and argued that he would have turned over the documents to the Justice Department if asked.

While incumbent presidents 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.

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

In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents ... I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.”

Trump himself has been given at least some of the records the government was seeking to unseal, but he and his lawyers have declined, so far, to make them public.

Should the warrant be released, it could disclose unflattering information about Trump and about FBI scrutiny of his handling of sensitive government documents right as he prepares for another run for the White House.

During his successful 2016 campaign, he pointed frequently to an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information.

The department specifically requested the unsealing of the warrant as well as a property receipt listing the items that were seized, along with two unspecified attachments.

To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this year.

The National Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records.

Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information.The attorney general also condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice Department personnel over the search.

Some Republican allies of Trump have called for the FBI to be defunded.

Large numbers of Trump supporters have called for the warrant to be released hoping they it will show that Trump was unfairly targeted.

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said of federal law enforcement agents, calling them “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”