The US Department of Justice has released a partially black lacquered version of the document that formed the basis of the search of former President Trump‘s Florida villa earlier this month. This shows, among other things, that the FBI expected to find evidence that Trump was trying to thwart a government investigation.
The censored piece states that Trump handed over fifteen boxes of documents in January at the request of the US National Archives. Fourteen of them contained a total of 184 confidential documents. 92 of them were secret and 25 were even state secret. The transferred boxes of classified information prompted the investigation into Trump, which led to the FBI search this month.
Some of the information already taken in January is marked “HCS” according to the statement, which means that it is information from or about classified human sources that provide information to the US government. So these are sources that spy for the US and are therefore personally endangered when it becomes known who they are.
Most of the documents found with Trump at the time are so secret that only a select group, for example members of the army top or the top of the intelligence services, can get permission to view them. This must be done in specially designated places to ensure safety. Trump’s villa in Mar-a-Lago is not suitable for that.
Home Search in Mar-a-Lago
Earlier it appeared that Trump‘s August search seized confidential and state-secret government documents that Trump still had from the time he was president. The released search warrant previously showed that the former president is under investigation, among other things, for a possible violation of the US Espionage Act. The release of the affidavit follows that search this month.
The now released document is a statement – censored for security and investigation reasons – by which the FBI obtained the search warrant. FBI agents have stated to the judge under oath why they wanted to do the raid and what evidence they expected to find in the villa. Based on that, they obtained the search warrant from a judge.
Typically, these kinds of affidavits remain secret as long as the investigation is ongoing, but Judge Bruce Reinhart – since his approval for the search the target of furious Republicans – has decided to release the piece now anyway. According to him, the reason for doing so now is the great public interest of the case.
No details about witnesses, for safety reasons
Since an uncensored version of the statement contains details that could harm national security and reveal information about the course of the investigation and, for example, the identity of witnesses, experts did not expect much clarity from the publication beforehand.
Trump’s search has kept US tempers busy for almost the entire month. Trump himself believes that there is a political process and some of his supporters are calling for the FBI to be dismantled because of the investigation. In the days following the search, the militant part of Trump‘s followers even called for civil war.
According to the judge, the Ministry of Justice was able to justify to him why black lacquered parts had to be censored. The ministry’s explanation states, among other things, that the safety of witnesses was an important consideration for black painting. Among other things, the threats to FBI agents after the search are pointed out.