Top secret documents were retrieved by the FBI from former US President Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago residence in Florida, it was reported Friday as the seal of secrecy was lifted.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had personally approved the search warrant, as Trump is under investigation for alleged obstruction of justice and violations of the Espionage Act. According to The Washington Post, classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items the FBI was looking for. There was no report as to whether such items had been found. Garland said copies of both the warrant and FBI property receipt were provided to Trump's counsel.
The inventory, ordered to be released Friday by Federal Judge Bruce Reinhart, included 26 boxes, each labeled with a number, as well as several folders of documents and photos labeled top secret or confidential, including one under the heading President of France and another on the pardon request of Roger Stone, Trump's confidant, as well as numerous confidential documents without description.
The documents were seized for being illegally possessed in violation of federal law including the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice. Under the Espionage Act and other laws cited in the warrant, anyone guilty of having removed defense documents from their proper place of custody can be fined and imprisoned for up to 10 years, while whoever attempts to willfully and unlawfully remove, conceal, mutilate or destroy records and notes that those guilty can be fined and imprisoned for up to three years, as well as be disqualified from holding any office under the United States, while anyone who alters, destroys or conceals documents to obstruct or influence an investigation or administration a matter of a federal department or agency can be fined and imprisoned up to 20 years.
Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich called the search outrageous and dubbed it a botched raid where they seized the President's picture books, a 'handwritten note,' and declassified documents.
House Intelligence Committee ranking Republican Rep. Mike Turner (OH) said Friday he had requested Garland to explain the imminent threat to national security behind the decision to raid the home of the former President, who wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, that he was in favor of making the court documents public.
Although all presidential records are supposed to go to the National Archives when a president leaves office, members of the Republican Party have accused Joseph Biden's administration of political persecution.