US

Donald Trump being investigated under Espionage Act, with ‘top secret’ documents taken from his Florida home

The FBI recovered more than 20 boxes of items – some labelled top secret – during a search of Donald Trump’s Florida mansion, court records show.

Details from a warrant that has now been unsealed, show some items related to defence information.

The warrant said the probe involves alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Among the 20 boxes removed were 11 sets of classified documents – one marked as “various classified/TS/SCI documents,” referring to top secret and sensitive information.

A binder of photos, a handwritten note and information about the “President of France” were also seized.

Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home, in New York City, U.S., August 9, 2022. REUTERS/David 'Dee' Delgado TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower the day after FBI agents raided his Palm Beach home

The FBI searched Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida earlier this week, with the former president claiming his home was “raided” and “under siege” and that agents broke open a safe.

He told his 3.8 million followers on his Truth Social platform the documents were “all declassified” and he would have handed them over at any point – there was no need to “seize” them.

More on Donald Trump

However, while a president does have authority to declassify documents, it is not clear whether Mr Trump ever took official action to do so.

Donald Trump's Florida home Mar-a-lago is searched by FBI agents
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Donald Trump’s Florida home Mar-a-Lago was searched by FBI agents

A big search – 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms

His followers have largely been galvanised by the FBI search – rallying around him and criticising the move as political, as it comes at a time when many expect he will announce plans to stand for a second presidential term.

The warrant described his property as “a mansion with approximately 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, on a 17-acre estate”.

It said officers could search the “45 Office” – a reference to Mr Trump’s status as the 45th American president – “all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS” (Former President of the United States).

Donald Trump Truth Social post regarding FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago Florida home. Pic: Truth Social
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Pic: Truth Social

Also uncovered, according to the “receipt for property,” was the executive grant of clemency for former Trump ally Roger Stone.

Mr Stone originally encouraged Mr Trump to run for office, and his staunch support of the president earned him a commuted sentence for his charge following the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

What did the warrant allow?

The unsealed warrant allowed for “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed” to be removed, including:

  • Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes.
  • Information, including communications in any form, regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defence information or classified material.
  • Any government and/or Presidential Records created between 20 January 2017, and 20 January 2021
  • Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of any government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings.

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