Oooh boy. It wasn't just about retrieving the files. It's an ONGOING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION!
Donald Trump's legal predicament may have worsened, legal experts said, after a bombshell report published Saturday evening by The New York Times.
"The Justice Department also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago recorded over a 60-day period, including views from outside the storage room. According to a person briefed on the matter, the footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room," Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported. "That activity prompted concern among investigators about the handling of the material. It is not clear when precisely the footage was from during the lengthy back-and-forth between Justice Department officials and Mr. Trump’s advisers, or whether the subpoena to Mr. Trump seeking additional documents had already been issued.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti noted the story and tweeted, "It sounds like DOJ has reason to be concerned that it *still* may not have recovered all of the classified material taken by Trump."
Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said, "obviously that raises many questions since it was false. If true, FBI couldn't have left with 21 more boxes in August."
Related video: Restricted documents at Mar-a-Lago raise questions about legal exposure of Trump aides
Law Prof. Rick Hasen wrote, "Do any of us doubt that someone besides Trump or someone in Trump's orbit who lied about possessing such documents and didn't give them back would already be held in custody pending further proceedings?"
Attorney Pam Keith said Attorney General Merrick Garland "still hasn’t detained or even questioned Trump. People are acting like that’s normal or justifiable. Given what we know, It’s INSANE!!"
"So what’s the excuse today for Trump not being arrested?" Keith asked. "I stand by my conclusion that Garland is too scared."
Bestselling author Don Winslow wanted Trump indicted long ago.
"What happened when Donald Trump was not indicted for 50 years? He became President of the United States and committed four more years of crimes," Winslow wrote. "When does it stop?"
Bill Kristol, who served as Vice President Dan Quayle's chief of staff said, "Whoa. Let me amplify. WHOA."
ALSO IN THE NEWS: 'She’s loaded. They all have guns': Lauren Boebert neighbors forced to call 911 over speeding and property damage
In SDFL, the USA files its response to unsealing motions addressing the affidavit. Link.
DOJ is appropriately resisting disclosure of the Mar A Lago search affidavit because it will compromise their ongoing investigation. This is very standard and right. That said, what they said -- especially about witnesses -- will invariably drive Trump to be even more worried
DOJ’s worried about witnesses’ identities, this means people are turning on Trump from within.
Also, Laura Ingraham (part of Fox News’ big 3, along with Hannity and Tucker) is pleading for the Republican Party to move on from him.
It’s all over, folks.
The govt does not want to unseal the affidavit and it it does it will be heavily redacted. There is way too much in that to just release it. I hope the Magistrate Judge denies the release. FYI I think #45 has been charged so it may moot the issue and trigger CIPA.
FBI has info online re criminal cases. “If the agency concludes that a crime was committed and identifies a suspect, federal law enforcement officers (known as special agents) may make an arrest without obtaining an arrest warrant;…”
… “may obtain an arrest warrant for a named person; or, in some circumstances, may delay making an arrest in order to obtain additional evidence proving the suspect’s guilt.” So they retrieved the docs & know there’s incriminating evidence in having them in the first place!
Remember the peanut butter sandwich Navy spy. Guy & his wife received jail time. It’s similar re nuclear technology stolen while on the job. It’s the same thing! No one should have that info in their possession, in their beach club, on their person or showing docs to randoms!
Yes! Remember the peanut butter sandwiches? … “he provided the agent with documents containing restricted details about Virginia-class submarines, which are nuclear-powered fast attack warships.”
There’s fun case info on official gov sites. Watch movie Breach re worst spy in history re Robert Hanssen espionage case. @eoneill must have harrowing real life stories! He helped catch Hanssen. They always think they’ll get away w/these crimes & slip up.
There’s also Walker case. “In 1985 former US Navy warrant officer John Anthony Walker was arrested for selling US secrets to Soviet Union. Walker’s espionage began in 1967 when he walked into Soviet Embassy in DC w/material that allowed Soviets to read encrypted naval messages.”
Walker recruited his family. “John & Arthur Walker were each sentenced to life in prison. Michael Walker was sentenced to 25 years in prison & was paroled in 2000. Jerry Whitworth was sentenced to 365 years & a fine.” John Walker died in prison in 2014.
BREAKING: the DoJ has filed their motion in opposition of unsealing the affidavit related to the search warrant executed at MAL (multiple media outlets have filed to get the affidavit. 1/
The DoJ says that there would be so many redactions to the affidavit to protect the ongoing NATIONAL SECURITY investigation that it doesn’t make sense to unseal it, but if the court orders it, the DoJ wants to be able to redact it. 2/
The DoJ DOES NOT object to unsealing the cover sheets, the government’s motion to seal, and the court’s sealing order with modest redactions 3/
Full filing here thanks to @politico
There was a theory the warrant was only to recover classified stuff, not for criminal investigation. That theory is gone now. The government opposes release of the affidavit because it would compromise a continuing investigation.
Search warrant included "all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime or other items illegally possessed...""as well as any other containers/boxes stored together with the aforementioned..."
Full copy of the government's opposition.
"Here, the government has a compelling, overriding interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation." p. 7.
For the record, Rule 6e prohibits the release information related to grand jury proceedings.
Note that the opposition is signed by Jay Bratt, the Chief of the DOJ branch that investigates espionage violations and determines whether to prosecute espionage cases. This establishes his continued, deep, involvement in this case.
NEW: Justice Dept asks to keep sealed the Mar-a-Lago affidavit to prevent revealing the direction of the criminal investigation — worsening distrust inside Trump’s circle that has no insight into where DOJ goes next. @GuardianUS
The US Justice Department has asked a judge not to release the affidavit that gave the FBI probable cause to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, worsening distrust among top aides casting about for any insight into the intensifying criminal investigation surrounding the former president.
The affidavit should not be unsealed because that could reveal the scope of the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government secrets, the Justice Department argued, days after the Mar-a-Lago search warrant showed it referenced potential violations of three criminal statutes.
FBI agents a week ago seized around 20 boxes of materials – including documents marked Top Secret – executing a search warrant which referenced the Espionage Act outlawing the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid an adversary.
“The affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course,” the justice department said, adding that it did not oppose unsealing both a cover page and a sealing order that wouldn’t harm the criminal investigation.
In arguing against unsealing the affidavit, the justice department also said that the disclosure could harm its ability to gain cooperation from witnesses not only in the Mar-a-Lago investigation but also additional ones that would appear to touch on the former president.
“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” prosecutors added.
The existence of potential witnesses who could yet cooperate in a number of investigations against Trump – seemingly people with intimate knowledge of the former president’s activities – rattled close advisors once more Monday, further deepening distrust inside his inner political circle.
The lack of insight into what the justice department intends to do with the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government documents has deeply frustrated the Trump legal team and aides alike in a week of perilous moments for the former president.
At least one lawyer on the Trump legal team – led by former assistant US attorney Evan Corcoran, who also acted as the lawyer for Trump’s top former strategist Steve Bannon – has called up a reporter covering the story for any insight into how the justice department might next proceed.
It added to the already fraught atmosphere inside the reduced group of advisors who have day-to-day roles around Trump that erupted shortly after the FBI departed Mar-a-Lago and sparked suspicions that a person close to the former president had become an informant for the FBI.
That speculation came in part amid widening knowledge about how the FBI might have established probable cause that there was a crime being committed at Mar-a-Lago using new or recent information – to prevent the probable cause from going “stale” – through a confidential informant.
According to multiple sources close to Trump, suspicions initially centered on Nicholas Luna, the longtime Trump body-man who stepped back from his duties around March, and Molly Michael, the former Trump White House Oval Office operations chief, who remains on payroll but is due to soon depart.
Luna was subpoenaed by the congressional investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack but has not spoken to the FBI about this case, one of the sources said. And although Michael is slated to also leave Trump’s orbit, the source said, her departure – like Luna’s – is not acrimonious.
The focus in the middle of the week shifted to Mar-a-Lago employees and other staff at the members-only resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the sources said, seemingly in part because the FBI knew exactly which rooms and where in the rooms they needed to search.
But towards the weekend, and following the revelation that the FBI removed a leather-bound box from the property and already knew the location of Trump’s safe, scrutiny shifted once more to anyone else who had not yet been suspected – including members of Trump’s family, the sources said.
A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment. Calls to Trump lawyers went unanswered or straight to voicemail. The justice department declined to comment on the investigation or Monday’s request.
Nonetheless, the escalating distrust and rampant speculation about an informant has started to reach dizzying levels, even by the standards of the Trump presidency, which was characterized in many ways by competing interests and political backstabbing, the sources said.
It remains unclear whether the FBI relied on confidential informants, and the Guardian first reported that the search came in part because the justice department grew concerned that classified materials remained at Mar-a-Lago as a result of interactions with Trump’s lawyers.
At least one Trump lawyer signed a document – apparently falsely – attesting to the justice department that there were no more classified materials left at Mar-a-Lago after federal officials in June removed 10 boxes worth of government records, the sources said, confirming a New York Times report.
This isn't a good sign. One of TFG's lawyer called up a reporter on the story, asking what the DOJ might do next.
ime the best white collar crime attorneys expect to learn things from prosecutors *before* journos.
DOJ is on-record in court citing witness intimidation as a reason to keep the affidavit sealed. Obviously, this is a really smart move by them, but it’s still shocking to see it in a court filing and know that we’re talking about a former POTUS.
Also, right-wing TikTok is collectively losing their final marble. They seem to think that IRS agents are going to come seize their guns, and they’re all crowing about civil war.
The problem is that years of media manipulation convinced Americans that Trump is a “businessman”; his unfortunate, anomalous “election” made people think he’s a “president”.
But these are huge category errors.
Trump (shown here with “Fat Tony” Salerno & Roy Cohn) is a MOBSTER.
NEW: DOJ is also worried the release of the FBI affidavit underlying the Mar-a-Lago search would "chill future cooperation" by witnesess — particularly when threats related to Trump probe are "not merely a hypothetical concern."
The Justice Department intends to unseal additional documents connected to the FBI search at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate but is urging a federal court to maintain the secrecy of the sworn affidavit describing the basis for the search.
The DOJ is particularly concerned that the release of details from the affidavit might harm ongoing efforts to interview witnesses, given the threats to federal agents in wake of the Mar-a-Lago search.
“If disclosed, the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps,” U.S. Attorney Juan Gonzalez and Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt said in a filing urging the continued secrecy of the affidavit.
“The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly,” the DOJ officials wrote.
Instead, DOJ is urging the court to unseal a redacted document that includes additional filings connected to the search warrant, including a cover sheet, DOJ’s motion to seal the warrant on Aug. 5 and the judge’s sealing order issued the same day.
Among DOJ’s concerns about releasing the underlying information is that witnesses might stop cooperating, particularly “given the high-profile nature of this matter.”
“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” Gonzalez and Bratt say, adding “This is not merely a hypothetical concern, given the widely reported threats made against law enforcement personnel in the wake of the August 8 search.”
Throughout the filing, DOJ makes references to its ongoing criminal investigation connected to the search — a probe that last week’s release of the search warrant revealed to include potential crimes related to the mishandling of classified materials and presidential records, as well as obstruction of Justice. Revealing the affidavit, DOJ noted Monday, would jeopardize that probe.
“Here, the government has a compelling, overriding interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation,” the DOJ officials argued.
The filing cites news reports about an uptick in threats against FBI agents as well as an attack by an armed man against an FBI building in Cincinnati last week.
Although the magistrate judge overseeing the case, Bruce Reinhart, is not bound by DOJ’s request to maintain the secrecy of the affidavit, it would represent an extremely rare step, even in cases of less national significance. DOJ acknowledged that the decision is Reinhart’s and said that if he chooses to release the affidavit, the department would propose significant redactions “so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content.”
“The release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest,” Gonzalez and Bratt wrote.
House and Senate lawmakers in both parties have demanded additional details pertaining to the search executed at Trump’s home, which was related to an effort to retrieve highly classified documents and other presidential records that Trump had warehoused there.
Sworn affidavits that undergird search warrants are typically sealed until charges are issued or an investigation is closed. They are typically provided by an FBI agent connected to the case and attest to the reasons the bureau believes there is probable cause of a crime.
Nicholas Wu and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
NBC News: The Senate Intelligence Cmte. is requesting that DOJ and ODNI "provide the Committee with the classified documents that were seized in the search of Mar a Lago, and an assessment of potential risks to national security as a result of their mishandling." @NBCNews
Oh and as for Trump's passports:
If Trump is accurate here (big if), this is ominous: Trump now claims FBI agents seized three of his PASSPORTS during the Mar-a-Lago raid
Donald Trump claimed his passports were 'stolen' in the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago
If true, he cannot leave the country
'Wow. In the raid by the FBI or Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else,' he said on Truth Social
Trump likely has a regular blue passport issued to U.S. citizens and a red 'diplomatic' passport issued for official government travel
He would have received a diplomatic passport as president
The Justice Department has hit back at Donald Trump's claim the FBI stole his passports during the raid on his Mar-a-Lago mansion.
An insider told CBS the agency does not have the documents but added whatever was seized that was not on the warrant will be returned.
It comes after the former president on Monday claimed his passports were taken, which would mean he could not leave the country.
He called it an 'assault on a political opponent.'
'Wow. In the raid by the FBI or Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else.
'This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never before seen in our country. Third World,' he wrote on his Truth Social social media account.
He likely has a regular blue tourist passport issued to U.S. citizens, a red passport issued for official government travel and a black 'diplomatic' passport. He could have received the black and red passports as president.
Also, U.S. citizens are allowed more than one blue passport book if they are frequent flyers, such as if they need to apply for more than one visa at a time.
But, without a legal passport, Trump would not be able to travel outside of the United States.
It's unclear what passports were seized, and, if it was done because the former president is considered a flight risk. It's also unclear if Trump currently has a valid passport in his possession.
Trump's office did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com's inquiry.
The former president has been battling back since he announced his Palm Beach residence was raided by federal agents, including warning the FBI and Department of Justice that 'terrible things' will happen in the United States if the 'temperature' doesn't come down.
Trump told Fox News Digital that he has offered to do 'whatever he can' to fix the simmering tensions because people are 'so angry at what is taking place'.
Federal law enforcement agencies are warning of 'an increase in threats and acts of violence' directed at FBI personnel after agents executed a search warrant on Trump's Florida home.
Days after the raid, a man who posted regularly on Trump's Truth Social site tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office in Ohio, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and a nail gun. He fled the scene and was later killed in a standoff.
On social media, there has been increased chatter about a civil war and threats of violence against FBI agents.
Trump also told Fox News Digital that he had his representatives reach out to the DOJ to offer assistance as outrage in his base ensues over the FBI's raid on his private residence.
'People are so angry at what is taking place,' Trump told Fox when asked about reaching out. 'Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn't, terrible things are going to happen.'
He added: 'The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam.'
Trump's comment on Monday that it is an 'assault on a political opponnet' reflects a strategy adopted by him and his family, as they have gone on the defense, where they have accused President Joe Biden of having ordered the raid.
The White House said the president found out about the raid from public reports.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said he 'personally approved' the raid, which was part of a federal investigation into documents Trump took with him after he left the White House. According to federal law, any presidential records are the property of the federal government.
Garland did not give any additional details about the investigation but said the Justice Department requested the warrant and inventory list be made public due to the high level of public interest in the investigation.
And the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Sunday that President Biden hasn't been briefed on it at all.
'Not been briefed. We have not interfered,' she said on ABC's This Week.
During Monday's raid of Trump's Florida home, FBI agents took 11 sets of classified documents, photographs and other files marked 'top secret' among boxes of items.
In all, FBI agents took 27 boxes of documents, according to the federal warrant.
The inventory of items taken by the agents includes some specific items, including an 'Executive Grant of Clemency: Re Roger Jason Stone Jr' - a former Trump adviser who was pardoned in the last days of Trump's presidency - and 'info re: President of France.'
The list also includes more generic labels like 'Various classified/TS/SCI documents.' In the national security world, the 'TS/SCI' abbreviation generally refers to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information - available only to those with the highest level of clearance.
Also listed are four sets of 'top secret' documents, three of 'secret' documents and three sets of 'confidential' documents, but the receipt offers no further information about what they contained.
Lawyers for Trump insist that as president he had the power to declassify the documents before leaving office.
Trump also has accused the FBI of taking documents that fall under attorney-client priviledge and demanding their return.
'Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged 'attorney-client' material, and also 'executive' privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken,' Trump said Sunday on Truth Social.
He said that the FBI should consider his post on the alternative social media site his formal request that the documents be returned to his Palm Beach estate.
'By copy of this TRUTH,' Trump wrote on Sunday, 'I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!'
Monday's raid was part of a longer-running investigation into documents Trump took with him when he left the White House.
Under the Presidential Records Act, all such documents must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration at the end of each presidential administration.
The law declared all presidential and vice presidential records property of the federal government, with 'custody, control and preservation' of the records delegated to the National Archives when a president leaves office.
Trump returned 15 boxes to the Archives earlier this year. But, on Monday, in a day-long search, agents went through storage space at Mar-a-Lago and areas in Trump's personal residence, removing more material.
Folks -- USG employees can get official passports for traveling on official business, which is separate from a personal passport. Normally you give up your official passport when you leave gov, but I assume former POTUSes have them indefinitely which is likely why TFG had 2
It’s possible that Trump retained his red “government official” passport, and a black “diplomatic” passport, which he no longer has a right to. Those would be “government records” seizable pursuant to the warrant.
Former President Trump *might* be talking about the black diplomatic passport that every president gets — the cover says “THE BEARER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” — although it’s unclear if an outgoing president has to surrender it.
An e-mail mix-up reportedly led to the unauthorized release of personal information — including passport numbers — belonging to President Obama and 30 other world leaders who attended last year’s Group of 2o summit in Brisbane, Australia. The Guardian reported that, according to e-mails obtained in an Australian freedom of information request, an employee of Australia’s immigration office accidentally sent the information to an organizer of the Asian Cup soccer tournament.
The e-mail contained passport numbers, visa numbers, dates of birth and other personal identifying information for Obama and the leaders of Russia, Germany, China, Britain, India, Japan and Indonesia, among others, according to the Guardian.
And yes, presidents really do have passports (and visas) that they use to travel around the world, likely racking up a massive number of customs stamps in the process.
According to the White House, which demystified the process in this very helpful video, Obama’s passport was newly minted when he became president. It’s just like yours: It has his photo and he’s signed it and everything. Except that his says: “THE BEARER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.”
The White House’s advance staff keeps it locked up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, along with the passports of other White House staffers.
It appears that the leak in Australia was chalked up to simple user error: An employee in Australia’s Immigration Department dashed off an e-mail a little too quickly and was foiled by Microsoft Outlook, it seems.
“The cause of the breach was human error. [Redacted] failed to check that the autofill function in Microsoft Outlook had entered the correct person’s details into the email ‘To’ field. This led to the email being sent to the wrong person,” an official said in an e-mail reporting the breach to Australia’s privacy commissioner.
The official added that the person who accidentally received the information brought the mistake to the attention of the e-mail sender.
Shortly after the e-mail was sent, officials in Australia’s privacy office were notified. And according to Australia’s Immigration Department, the sensitive information was immediately deleted.
“The department has reviewed and strengthened its email protocols to limit and contain future breaches,” a spokesman for the Immigration Department told Australia’s ABC News.
Still, the mix-up is probably a very minor security risk, according to Australian officials, who noted that the absence of other identifying information makes the risks of the breach “very low.”
The White House declined to comment.
Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report, which has been updated.
This is possible. I thought about diplomatic passports originally, but I was under the impression those were to be given back after you leave office.
You don’t have to give them back, but they should only be used when in govt travel.
Good info. I had a “special issuance/official passport” that had to be returned when I was no longer at that post
Assumed diplo were the same
Many people wind up with multiple expired passports, though they are sent back with a hole punch. Assuming Trump’s second one was his presidential passport, he apparently doesn’t realize that it expired at noon on Jan.20, 2021.
Isn't this a moot point? Who in the world wouldn't know Donald Trump...passport or not? I think a data transfer from our government saying 'send him back' would reach every airport quicker than tfg's 757.
So Trump team now publicizing this email, which shows:
1) DOJ obtained three passports (two expired, not one, as Trump said) and alerted Trump lawyers
2) They were recovered by a filter team, which weeds out privileged info.
3) Trump publicized this after DOJ offered them back
Trump spokesman @TayFromCA released the email in response to CBS reporting that the FBI was not in possession of Trump’s passports. The email shows that at least as of early afternoon today, investigators did have them.
They did seize three passports, two had expired, and DOJ has made all of them available for pick-up at @FBIWFO, including his active diplomatic passport. The filter team deemed the passports returnable. No idea why he keeps his diplomatic passport unless other FPOTUS’s have one.
Trump had to be dragged overseas when he was pres. He hates leaving the states. Probably afraid he won't be allowed back in. As @StephenKing's mom would say, "He needs a passport like a hen needs a flag" It is just something to fuss about.
Still not one interview from Trump since the search. No Fox, no Newsmax, no OAN, no Podcasters, no Lindell TV, no nothing. And this right after taking the 5th 440 times. Still banging out those posts on Truth Social though - where nobody can ask him a question.
Donald Trump has demanded the return of some documents seized by the US justice department in an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida last week – apparently under the impression that posts on his Truth Social platform carry legal weight.
In a post on Sunday, the former president wrote: “By copy of this Truth, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!”
It is generally held that social media posts are not legal documents.
According to an actual legal document, a search warrant unsealed on Friday, records concerning top secret national security matters were among those seized by the FBI. It has been reported that some such documents concerned nuclear weapons.
Trump has called the nuclear weapons report a “hoax” and claimed to have had authority to declassify top secret records while in office. No evidence has been produced that he did declassify the records in question.
On Saturday, citing anonymous sources, Fox News reported that in the search at Mar-a-Lago last Monday, the FBI seized boxes “containing records covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege”.
Fox News also said anonymous sources said the justice department turned down Trump lawyers’ request to have such records reviewed by an independent third party.
Trump’s post on his Truth Social platform – which he launched after being thrown off Twitter over the Capitol attack – appeared to be in response to the Fox News report.
He also said: “Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken.”
The former president has used claims of mistreatment to boost fundraising and positioning for a potential presidential run in 2024, his complaints echoed by supporters in the Republican party and across the American right.
Among them, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota argued on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that releasing the affidavit that persuaded a judge to permit the FBI search “would confirm that there was justification for this raid”.
“The justice department should show that this was not just a fishing expedition,” Rounds said.
The Ohio congressman Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, said: “We want to know what did the FBI tell them?”
On Monday afternoon the justice department said it objected to requests to unseal the affidavit, as doing so would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation”, possibly by “chill[ing] future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations”.
The DoJ also said: “The fact that this investigation implicates highly classified materials further underscores the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and exacerbates the potential for harm if information is disclosed to the public prematurely or improperly.”
Trump continued to rage on Truth Social, claiming both that “Republicans could win many additional seats, both in the House and Senate, because of the strong backlash over the raid at Mat-a-Lago” and that the FBI “stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else”.
He added: “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”
John Dean knows a thing or two about assaults on political opponents, having been White House counsel under Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal 50 years ago.
He told CNN Trump and his allies “don’t seem to want to appreciate that the FBI and other federal law enforcement, as well as state and local, they enforce search warrants every day, against every kind of person”.
“And there’s a reason Trump provoked this,” Dean said. “He’s the one who didn’t cooperate. He’s the one who forced [US attorney general] Merrick Garland’s hand. We don’t know what it is [Trump] has or had.
“Garland isn’t a risk-taker. He isn’t a guy who’s bold and goes where no one else has ever gone. He’s somebody who does it by the book, so I think these people are going to have egg all over their face when this is over.”
Trump has claimed the Mar-a-Lago search is comparable to the 1972 break-in at the Washington offices of the Democratic National Committee which fueled and christened the Watergate scandal.
On Saturday, a Fox News host also went to the Nixonian well, citing a famous claim about presidential authority the disgraced 37th president made in an interview with David Frost in 1977.
Will Cain said: “You know, if I listen to alternative media today, and they’re telling me, ‘Oh, classified documents, no one is above the law, right? The rule of law applies to everyone.’
“I’m curious. When it comes to classified documents, famously, President Nixon said, if the president does it, then it is not illegal. Is that not truly the standard when it comes to classified documents? The president has the ability to at any time declassify anything.”
Experts agree that is not the standard when it comes to handling classified material. Furthermore, Nixon himself backed away from his infamous claim.
After the Frost interview, Nixon said: “I do not believe and would not argue that a president is above the law. Of course he is not.
“The question is what is the law and how is it to be applied with respect to the president in fulfilling the duties of his office.”
FYI: His lawyers have NOT filed anything in court to dispute the search warrant or anything. All we hear is them on the talking shows and social media.