The FBI released an affidavit on Friday confirming that they conducted a search because they had a reason to believe that there was evidence of “obstruction.” The highly redacted document also implies that the DoJ was already conducting a criminal investigation into the matter. Trump, as always still insists that he is innocent.
The 37-page affidavit released on court orders sheds further light on the FBI’s raid on August 8 at Mar-a-Lago. The former president is under intense scrutiny for alleged mishandling of highly confidential presidential documents.
Affidavit and the search at Mar-a-Lago
It appears that as the days progress, Donald Trump’s troubles seem to worsen. In a new turn of events, the FBI released an affidavit stating, “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”.
According to the document, the National Archives, tasked with the preservation of historic and presidential documents expressed concern regarding the documents. All in all, 15 boxes (11 sets) of highly confidential documents were with Trump even after his term came to an end.
It also revealed that the said documents contained, “classification markings, which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI)”. Out of the 184 documents, 25 were “top secret”.
The document’s information also suggests that the FBI already knew where to search. The rented rooms and guest rooms were not the subjects of investigations. The agents were authorized to conduct a search in “the storage room”, “Pine Hall” and “45 Office”. “As described above, evidence of the SUBJECT OFFENSES has been stored in multiple locations at the PREMISES”, said the affidavit.
The document, even though revealed a great deal of information about the investigation, also withheld a lot. The identities of the witnesses, testimonies and sources of information were all protected. The Department of Justice decided against releasing the information in order to protect the identities of their informants and witnesses. The DoJ justified it by saying the decision was to “protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses, in addition to law enforcement personnel, as well as to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.” Already, Trump’s supporters have started to rally against the witnesses that have come forward so far.
The DoJ expressed its concern saying, “If witnesses’ identities are exposed, they could be subjected to harms including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety,”.Even the affidavit stated that the “Exposure of witnesses’ identities would likely erode their trust in the government’s investigation, and it would almost certainly chill other potential witnesses from coming forward in this investigation and others”
If the authorities are able to prove their allegations, then Trump can be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. It criminalises a person, “…being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document…relating to the national defence”. The guilty can face prison for up to 10 years or fined or both.
Trump and his response
Trump, however, in his characteristic attitude is not concerned with the developments. He still alleges his innocence saying that the “political Hacks and Thugs” are leading the investigation.”
It is difficult to determine the outcome of this investigation but the FBI’s investigation has certainly thrown a wrench in his plans for the Presidential run in 2024.