US Justice Dept reveals more info about Trump Mar-a-Lago search

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Former President Donald Trump has been campaigning for a second term in office, with stops like this July 1 rally in Pickens, South Carolina [File: Meg Kinnard/AP Photo]

A federal judge in Florida declined a media request to un-redact the entire affidavit justifying the Mar-a-Lago search.

The United States Justice Department has released more information about the affidavit used to justify the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August 2022.

The decision on Wednesday follows an order earlier in the day from Bruce Reinhart, a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida.

Reinhart dismissed a request from media organisations to unseal the entire affidavit, but he nevertheless compelled the Justice Department to reveal further details from the heavily redacted document.

The affidavit offered justification for the search warrant used to seize documents from the Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida on August 8, providing key evidence for the current slate of federal charges against Trump.

The former president now faces 38 counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office.

The historic indictment against Trump, unsealed in June, accused the Republican leader of stashing sensitive records around a toilet, ballroom and other storage areas readily accessible to resort employees.

It also charged Trump with obstructing attempts to reclaim the documents, concealing the papers and making false statements about them.

The additional information published on Wednesday disclosed how security footage from the resort gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probable cause to probe the premises.

The surveillance tape showed dozens of boxes being moved ahead of a visit from investigators on June 3, 2022, according to the affidavit.

On the day of the visit, representatives from the FBI and the Justice Department were given an envelope with 38 classified documents — and the assurance that all other relevant materials had been surrendered.

However, when the FBI returned in August with the search warrant, law enforcement recovered an additional 102 classified documents.

The movement of the boxes had previously been described in June’s indictment, which identified Walt Nauta, a Trump aide, as helping to transport the files ahead of the investigators’ arrival.

The affidavit does not name Nauta but rather explains that an individual called “Witness 5” was seen hauling boxes to and from the anteroom of the resort.

Nauta himself faces six federal charges for his alleged role in the classified documents scandal. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.

Trump had been subpoenaed in May 2022 to turn over all classified materials to federal authorities. When his lawyers encouraged him to comply, he allegedly replied, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Pickens
Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign has reported an uptick in campaign donations since his federal indictment [File: Chris Carlson/AP Photo]

The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He is currently campaigning for a second term in the 2024 presidential race.

On Wednesday, his campaign released a statement saying the Republican candidate tallied more than $35 million in donations during the second quarter of the year, despite his ongoing legal troubles.

That total is almost double what he raised in the first three months of the year, when he pulled in $18.8 million. Trump’s campaign has previously said that it pulled in $6.6 million alone in the days following the federal indictment.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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