More of Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant Affidavit Unsealed

July 6, 2023

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart unsealed additional portions of the search warrant on former President Trump’s Florida country club residence, Mar-a-Lago, Wednesday evening.

The Department of Justice’s search warrant led to a raid on August 8 by FBI agents on Mar-a-Lago. 

The newly-unredacted portions of the affidavit suggests that federal prosecutors had based their search in part on surveillance footage from cameras near a storage room in the basement of Mar-a-Lago showing Trump aide Walt Nauta moving dozens of boxes in and out of the room days before the FBI raid.

According to the DOJ’s indictment of Trump last month, agents found more than 100 documents marked classified during their search of the property. Boxes stored in places such as a ballroom, a bathroom, a shower, an office space, his bedroom and a storage room included classified information from such federal agencies as the CIA, Pentagon, NSA, and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others.

Nauta was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on six charges, including conspiracy to obstruct, withholding a document or record, and scheme to conceal, according to the federal indictment.

Trump himself pleaded not guilty to all 37 federal charges last month, including 31 counts for willful retention of national defense secrets in violation of the Espionage Act, as well as counts of making false statements, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, and a scheme to conceal. 

Judge Reinhart is the magistrate assigned to the prosecutions of Trump and Nauta.

“Multiple media organizations” had asked to have more of the warrant affadavit unsealed, according to Reinhart’s filing with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida.

Reinhart, who issued the search warrant last August, has also issued two previous orders unsealing separate portions of the warrant affidavit in response to media requests.

The newly-unsealed portions included a photo of dozens of boxes in the Mar-a-Lago storage room, as well as a detailed description of the various angles caught by the security cameras outside the room.

“The door to the storage room was painted gold and had no other markings on it,” the FBI agent who drafted the affidavit wrote. “The door to the storage room is located approximately midway up the wall and is reachable by several wooden stairs.”

The unreacted affadavit also notes that between May 24, 2022, and June 1, 2022, Nauta took 64 boxes out of the storage room at Mar-a-Lago but put back only 25 or 30 of them. The affidavit at the time said the locations of those dozens of other boxes was “currently unknown.” 

The newly unredacted information does not reveal why federal authorities suspected there was still sensitive material at Mar-a-Lago after Trump in January 2022 had sent 15 boxes of government records to the National Archives.

Archives officials discovered those boxes contained nearly 200 classified documents, prompting a federal subpoena in May 2022 for any additional materials that bore classified markings still in Trump’s possession. The next month, Trump attorney Evan Corcoran surrender to the government another 38 classified documents.

In response to the new unsealing of portions of the warrant, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung repeated previous assertions that the former President “has consistently been in full compliance with the Presidential Records Act” and that he had been helpful to the Justice Department.

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 “[e]stablishes public ownership of all Presidential records.”

It further “[r]equires that the President and his staff take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records,” and that “Presidential records automatically transfer into the legal custody of the Archivist as soon as the President leaves office.” 

The unredacted portions of the affidavit can be read here.

PHOTO Source: federal indictment

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