On June 3, a prosecutor and a trio of FBI agents showed up at Mar-a-Lago for a meeting. The subject of that meeting was boxes with White House records housed in a storage room at Trump’s Palm Beach property. According to Just the News, an anonymous source said the meeting was specifically related to documents sought in relation to the grand jury subpoena.
That subpoena requested that Trump produce any and all documents that had classification labels, including any “mementos” or other notes and pictures he may have kept from his impeachment-marred single term in the White House.
Trump, who was not expected at the June 3 meeting, abruptly appeared and told the prosecutor and trio of agents he would comply.
Per Just the News, two eyewitnesses recall Trump telling the law enforcement group: “Look, whatever you need, let us know.” The agents then asked to look at the storage locker in the basement at Mar-a-Lago. Trump and his lawyers allowed the search.
According to Trump’s campaign attorney, Christina Bobb, a few days after that meeting, the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence and export control, Jay Bratt, contacted Trump’s legal team and asked that a padlock be installed on the door where the sensitive documents were kept.
What then followed was the disclosure of key information to investigators.
There were more boxes with classified information on the property. This was in addition to the 15 boxes the National Archives had retrieved earlier after much back-and-forth with Trump. The contents of those boxes, according to the National Archives, included classified or otherwise sensitive information.
This sparked the FBI to show up with a warrant, something agents only obtained after they were able to convince a magistrate judge that there was likely evidence of a crime that had been committed.
Publicly, Trump has continued attacks on virtually every institution, from the FBI to the Department of Justice to Congress and the White House, saying the various probes into his affairs and conduct are part of a larger “witch hunt” against him. His reaction to the search of his home has sparked a wave of threats of violence to lawmakers anew and has generated an intense new round of conspiracy theories about the “deep state” attempt to take down Donald Trump.
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But Trump’s attorneys, at least when it comes to the records search at Mar-a-Lago, have been cooperative.
According to reports from The Wall Street Journal and CNN alike, Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran complied not just with the request to padlock the door but also provided surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago to authorities when it was requested under a separate subpoena issued to the Trump Organization.
The warrant for the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago contains mention of a possible violation of the Presidential Records Act, Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb, has said.
Trump, at any time, could publish the itemized warrant to potentially end the miasma of questions and misinformation swirling around the search, but he has not and is not expected to. The Department of Justice, as a rule, does not release warrant applications to the public, so it is up to the former president to offer this transparency for the moment.
Trump has dubbed the search a “siege” of his home by FBI agents, but those officers who showed up for the search did so quietly and discretely in plain clothes instead of their typical unmistakable blue jackets or with guns drawn, lights blazing. The meeting in June and the search on Monday have been described repeatedly by sources as “cordial.”
Three rooms were searched on Aug. 8. Agents took 10 boxes, according to the Wall Street Journal. The items taken are now believed to be held in Miami.
FBI agents are required under law to leave behind a copy of their search warrant when they conduct a raid. The warrant would also include an inventory of what items were taken, but even those descriptors could be vague.
The warrant would also typically itemize what possible crimes were committed.
It is the affidavit bearing details of probable cause that is key. This is the record necessary for a judge to approve a warrant, but it will remain sealed for now. It is only made public if charges are filed.