The Justice Department asked to search President Trump’s Florida residence after retrieving an initial batch of highly classified national security documents, out of concern that their disclosure could compromise “clandestine human sources” used in intelligence gathering, says a heavily redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant, reports the New York Times. The affidavit, including three dozen pages of evidence and legal arguments presented by the Justice Department’s national security division, describes the government’s push to recover classified materials taken from the White House by a former president who viewed state documents as his private property. The affidavit said agents reviewed 184 classified documents — including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them — that were kept at the Florida property after he left the White House, reports the Washington Post.
The affidavit was released on Friday, 18 days after FBI agents entered Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club with a court-authorized search warrant and carted off additional material marked as classified. Under orders from Judge Bruce Reinhart, the Justice Department made extensive redactions to the affidavit in an effort to shield witnesses from intimidation or retribution. The affidavit does not disclose the nature of the material or why Trump chose to retain it. Those concerns, and the continued unwillingness of Trump to return sensitive documents that the archives knew remained in his possession, prompted DOJ leaders to move quickly. The redactions of about half of the affidavit covered many of the most sensitive details of the Justice Department’s investigation. As a result, there are limited references to the witnesses or investigative methods that led to the findings laid out by lawyers who persuaded Attorney General Merrick Garland to sign off on the highly unusual request for a search. On Friday, Trump called the main Justice Department and the FBI “political Hacks and Thugs” who “had no right under the Presidential Records Act to storm Mar-a-Lago and steal everything in sight, including Passports and privileged documents.”