IN the Mar-a-Lago saga, Donald Trump has offered several major defenses. First, he has reportedly insisted to aides that he mainly extracted documents from the White House that were “mine.”
Second, he has indicated that he always intended to do the right thing and turn over government documents in his possession. Third, he has said in many ways that the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of his Florida home amounted to unlawful tyranny with boots.
Now that the Justice Department has released an edited version of the affidavit the FBI filed before obtaining a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, those arguments seem more questionable.
The affidavit was released Friday after federal judge Bruce E. Reinhart ordered the Justice Department to produce a redacted version and then approved those redactions as appropriate to protect the investigation and the identities of witnesses. Here are three things the affidavit tells us.
:: Trump mistakenly hoarded a large amount of documents, including those that may identify human intelligence sources.
The affidavit describes what the FBI found when it examined 15 boxes of documents Trump provided to the National Archives in January after archive officials sounded the alarm about missing materials.
Among them were 184 documents marked as secret, including some as top secret. The affidavit suggests they contained classified National Defense information or potentially very sensitive, top secret information relevant to national security. Some appeared to bear Trump’s “handwritten notes.”
The affidavit also states that markings on the documents contain “HCS,” or human intelligence sources. Experts tell me it’s not clear if this refers to information about people who are intelligence sources or information provided by such sources. In any case, they said, failure to secure such documents could jeopardize the identities of those providing critical information to the United States.
This undermines the notion that Trump merely kept documents for sentimental reasons, such as his letter from the North Korean leader, because they were “mine.”
It was reported that Trump’s aides attempted to turn this information over to the National Archives, but that Trump resisted. We now have a clearer picture of what he didn’t want to give back.
:: That could get a lot bigger.
At one point, the affidavit asked a judge to keep the document under wraps because it could jeopardize the ongoing investigation and because “the FBI has not yet identified all potential criminal confederates.”
Apparently the document was unsealed with redactions. But this passage strongly suggests that the investigation could be expanded to include other criminal suspects.
National Security Attorney Bradley Moss says this raises questions about who the real target of the FBI is. “Is it just Donald Trump?” Moss asked rhetorically. “Or some of his employees?”
We don’t know if Trump or anyone close to him will be charged with any crimes. However, we do know that in approving this warrant, a federal judge concluded that the evidence presented presented “probable cause” to conclude that three statutes may have been violated.
These laws are the Espionage Act, one law against destroying or concealing documents with intent to impede an investigation or administration of other US government affairs, and a third concerning misuse of government documents.
:: Trump’s conspiracy theories are nonsense. Trump is already using the redactions to suggest that further illegitimate attacks on him by law enforcement will be covered up. He raged on Truth Social: “Affiliation heavily redacted!!!”
But what was revealed in the affidavit has already confirmed that Trump had in his possession vast stacks of highly sensitive documents long after the National Archives wanted them back.
The affidavit also reveals that as late as June 8, the Justice Department sent a letter to Trump’s attorney, indicating classified documents were still at Mar-a-Lago and were not secured. The fact that so many highly sensitive documents were found during the subsequent search rightly confirms the department’s suspicion.
“Concerns about Trump’s behavior have been confirmed time and time again,” Moss told me.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/donald-trump-has-cause-to-be-feeling-anxious-about-mar-a-lago-affidavit-41943402.html Donald Trump has cause for concern over Mar-a-Lago affidavit