A federal judge on Friday unsealed the warrant and property receipt used by the FBI to conduct a search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week, resulting in materials that could see Trump charged with violating the Espionage Act, among other charges.
The documents were unsealed at the request of Attorney General Merrick Garland, who said at a press conference Thursday he had “personally” approved the FBI’s decision to seek the warrant.
Around 20 boxes of items were ultimately removed from the residence, including 11 sets of classified documents. A Washington Post bombshell Thursday indicated highly classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the files seized.
Depending on the information they contain, those documents may be governed by the Atomic Energy Act. If so, they cannot be unilaterally declassified by a president.
Some of the documents seized by the FBI were marked top secret and designated to remain only in a secure government facility.
Other seized items on the three-page list include a handwritten note, information about the “President of France,” the executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone, and a “leatherbound box of documents.”
Judge Bruce Reinhart gave the Justice Department until 3 p.m. ET Friday to notify the court if Trump would oppose the proposed unsealing. Trump had called for the “immediate” release of the warrant, but stopped short of releasing the document himself, which he has been free to do since the search itself.
Trump and his allies have been particularly vociferous following the search, seeking to paint it as politically motivated and even threatening the FBI.
Garland said Thursday it’s quite the opposite, and that not pursuing the warrant would have amounted to an unequal application of the law.
“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy,” Garland said. “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”
Law enforcement officers have been concerned about sensitive, classified material at Mar-a-Lago after learning Trump took 15 boxes of White House documents with him when he left office, in violation of the Presidential Records Act.
While some of those records were later recovered, it appears the Justice Department believes Trump nevertheless squirreled away other, much more sensitive documents for his own benefit.
In 2018, when he was president, Trump made mishandling classified documents a felony.