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FBI seized 'top secret' documents from Mar-a-Lago, court papers show

11 sets of classified documents seized, including multiple boxes of 'top secret' records
Trump Mar-a-lago FBI
Posted at 3:46 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 19:20:43-04

The search warrant used to seize documents at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Palm Beach was made public Friday.

The warrant was released after the Department of Justice asked a judge to approve unsealing the search warrant. On Friday, Trump's legal team said it would not object to its unsealing.

There were three potential criminal statutes listed in the search warrant. In order to obtain a search warrant, officials would have to prove they have probable cause and that they would find evidence of a crime.

The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., is photographed Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.
The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., is photographed Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

RELATED: Attorney general, FBI respond to criticism on Mar-a-Lago search

The statutes listed were:

  • 18 USC 2071 — Concealment, removal or mutilation generally
  • 18 USC 793 — Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information
  • 18 USC 1519 — Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy

The search warrant said that 28 boxes of evidence were taken from Trump's residence, including multiple top-secret documents. The search warrant also suggests there were other confidential and secret documents taken.

Mar-a-Lago, Aug. 10, 2022
This is an aerial view of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. The FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday.

RELATED: Florida politicians react to FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago

In a statement, Trump claimed that the documents were declassified before he left office.

"Number one, it was all declassified," Trump wrote. "Number two, they didn’t need to 'seize' anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request. They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago."

RELATED: Federal agents were after documents on nuclear weapons in search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, report says

According to the federal government, the "unauthorized disclosure (of top secret documents) could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security."

The statute involving destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy is considered the most serious of the crimes. A conviction on that statute contains a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Generally, search warrants are sealed during ongoing investigations.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington.
Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington.

But Attorney General Merrick Garland argued that because Trump had confirmed the search publicly and the immense public interest in the case, the public should examine the search warrant.

The FBI and DOJ have faced immense criticism from Republicans for seeking the search warrant. Garland said he personally signed off on the search warrant, which was executed on Monday. Trump has rallied Republican allies after being served with the warrant.

Although Garland was appointed by current President Joe Biden, the head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump.