A new report details how the FBI seized files with information of the nuclear capabilities of a foreign country when its agents executed a search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and residence last month. Reportedly the information also included other military defensive information about the foreign government. The Washington Post reported the story on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter, but did not identify the foreign government discussed in the document or indicate whether the foreign government was friendly or hostile to the United States.
Reuters reports that neither Trump representatives or the Justice Department responded to inquiry for comments. They also reported that court records show the FBI recovered more than 11,000 government documents and photographs during the agencies August 8 search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Prosecutors sought a search warrant for the former US president’s Florida estate after claiming to have obtained evidence that top-secret documents were hidden there, court filings by the Department of Justice show. According to previous reports, and Washington Post, some of the documents recovered were TS (Top Secret) as well as TS/SCI (Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmented Information). FBI agents raided the property on August 8 after reportedly months of negotiation with the former president’s team as they suspected that “government records were likely concealed” from prosecutors. Some of the documents are so restricted that even some of the Biden administration’s senior-most national security officials were not authorized to review them, the Post said.
Due to the storage and handling of these documents Trump faces a criminal investigation for illegal removal of government records and possible charges of obstruction of justice and violation of the Espionage Act. The Justice Department has said the former president pushed an “incomplete and inaccurate narrative” in his recent court filings about the Mar-a-Lago search as well. This comes after prosecutors indicated that in June, when handing back some files, his lawyers deliberately misled the government by claiming there was no more classified material at the Florida estate.
Reuters also reported that a federal judge has just granted Trump’s request for a “special master” to review documents seized. This includes so that they can determine if some of the seized material may be protected by executive privilege.
This exact privilege is based in the legal principle that allows specific White House records to be kept away and protected from lawmakers and the courts, however this principle is only in order for presidents to get candid advice on major decisions. Trump repeatedly asserted this privilege as president in attempts to block records and testimony from Democrats’ congressional investigations, including in the first impeachment inquiry of his time in office. Despite this, no court ruled on the merits of Mr Trump’s executive privilege claims while he was president.