In re: Sealed Search Warrant, No. 22-mj-8332 (BER). Redacted Affidavit in Support of an Application Under Rule 41 for a Warrant to Search and Seize docketed August 26, 2022.
The Department of Justice has complied with the U.S. District Court’s order to file a public copy of the affidavit supporting a search and seizure of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence, which occurred on August 8, 2022.
The Department of Justice has outlined the reasons for the redactions made to the documents, which were reviewed by the court before the affidavit was released. The federal government sought redactions to protect: 1) witness identities; 2) investigative plans or “roadmaps”; 3) Rule 6(e)[grand jury] materials; 4) law enforcement safety; 5) privacy of involved individuals.
The redacted affidavit recites that in January, 2022, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received fifteen boxes of documents transferred from the former president’s Florida residence. NARA became concerned because documents bearing classification markings were included in the transmittal, and was also concerned about the organization and presentation of those materials.
NARA contacted the Department of Justice about these concerns, which prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a criminal investigation to explore how documents bearing classification markings were removed from the White House, the nature of any storage at the former president’s Florida residence, whether additional materials were stored there, and who was involved in the removal and storage of classified informative in an unauthorized space.
Investigation confirmed the presence of documents marked classified within the transmittal to NARA. Review prompted the observation that National Defense Information (NDI) was likely within those documents, and that the storage of the fifteen boxes sent to NARA had been at an unauthorized location.
A section of the affidavit provides the caption “There is Probable Cause to Believe that Documents Containing Classified NDI and Presidential Records Remain at the Premises,” but the section is otherwise entirely redacted, with the exception of a recital concerning the location of documents in unauthorized spaces, a reference to ‘violations,’ and a description of the area to be searched. Concern about the presence of third parties is expressed.
Much of the affidavit recites what the Federal Bureau of Investigation proffers as support in the law for issuance of a warrant to search the former president’s residence and to seize any responsive materials found there, which would include materials believed to be subject to the Presidential Records Act.
The affidavit mentions a published report describing the presence of moving vans at the former president’s Florida residence in January, 2021, and discloses that NARA was advised in May, 2021 that Presidential Records Act materials had been found and were ready to be retrieved.
The affiant reiterates that inventory of the documents transferred to NARA in January, 2022 bore classification markings at high levels of restriction and that those documents were likely to contain National Defense Information (NDI).
Because of believed violations of laws addressing the management of classified information and the belief that materials illegally possess would be found at the former president’s residence, a warrant was sought, with procedural assurances to ensure proper management of seized materials proffered.