Mar-a-Lago affidavit released, redacted for “agent safety”

Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, the Florida federal judge who signed the search warrant for the search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, offices, and resort, has ordered the Justice Department to release the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant.

An affidavit is a document submitted by law enforcement to a judge to justify a search warrant.

According to sources, the DOJ found 184 classified documents in 15 boxes in the August 8 search, many of which are designated to only be read in a secured facility, even by a President.

Quotes from the Affidavit

"The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper

removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces , as well as the unlawful

concealment or removal of government records."

On January 18, 2022, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved fifteen (15) boxes from Mar-a-Lago. The FBI received a referral on the case shortly afterward as NARA discovered many classified documents, in top secret and above, as well as documents that are only allowed to be read in a secured location and cannot be removed from that secure location. They, the FBI, began conversations with Trump and his lawyers. When what the FBI believed were classified documents were not turned over, they requested a search warrant.

“The FBI's investigation has established that documents bearing classification

markings,which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI),were among the

materials contained in the FIFTEEN BOXES and were stored at the PREMISES in an

Unauthorized location.”

"Further, there is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain

Classified, NDI or that are Presidential Records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES. There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES."

“Because this affidavit is submitted for the limited purpose of establishing probable cause in support of the application for a search warrant, it does not set forth each and every fact that I, or others, have learned during the course of this investigation.”

A letter from Trump's attorney, M. Evan Corcoran, rebuts the FBI's claims, including many of the arguments that are being used by the former president and his supporters.

“Under the U.S. Constitution, the President is vested with the highest level of authority when it

comes to the classification and declassification of documents . See U.S. Const. , Art. II, § 2 ( The President [ is] Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States[ ) . His

constitutionally-based authority regarding the classification and declassification of documents is

unfettered. See Navy v . Egan, 484 U.S. 518, 527 ( 1988).”

The DOJ and others in the government, including some commentators on Fox News and elsewhere, have stated that while, yes, the then-President has absolute authority to declassify some documents, he does not have the power to declassify many of the nation's highest military secrets. Furthermore, there is a clear procedure in place for declassification that was not followed.

“Any attempt to impose criminal liability on a President or former President that involves his actions with respect to documents marked classified would implicate grave constitutional separation-of-powers issues. Beyond that, the primary criminal statute that governs the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material does not apply to the President.”

Corcoran goes on to argue that President Trump had issued a standing order to declassify any documents he decided to take with him to Mar-a-Lago. However, no written order has been shown to the public. Legal scholars state that such an order would be unenforceable as it would render it nearly impossible to tell the rest of the government what was declassified and what was not.

The complete document has been provided to the public:

Prior to the Release of the Redacted Affidavit

The DOJ released a 2-page list of paragraphs they want redacted. In most cases, the redactions have been listed as being needed for “agent safety.”

Since the Mar-a-Lago search, FBI agents have been shot at, the judge’s life has been threatened, and threats of physical harm have been rampant on social media.

The judge instructed the DOJ to release the affidavit by noon on Friday.

The release of even some of an affidavit in a criminal investigation is highly unusual. Affidavits typically contain information about witnesses, confidential informants, and other activities and persons that might be harmed by the release. Affidavits are typically not unsealed until after criminal charges are filed, so the statement by Judge Reinhart that he was inclined to release portions of the affidavit came as a surprise to prosecutors.

Reinhart’s move to release the affidavit came after Trump and the DOJ said separately they wouldn’t mind releasing portions of it. Petitions for the release of the document also came from news outlets like the New York Times, CNN, and others seeking to understand the government’s justification for the highly unprecedented move of searching a former president’s home for classified, top secret, and other government documents.

Image by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Bob Peryea
National Correspondent
The Kentucky Daily

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