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Mar-a-Lago FBI search warrant hearing

A federal judge last week unsealed the search warrant and property receipt from the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The search, documents show, was an evidence-gathering step in a national security investigation about the mishandling of classified documents. Trump owns the sprawling estate, and it is his primary residence as well as a members-only club and resort.

The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from its search, including some materials marked as “top secret/SCI” — one of the highest levels of classification, according to documents from the search warrant that were released.

Here are some key things we learned from the unsealed documents:

Crimes identified in the warrant: The search warrant identifies three federal crimes that the Justice Department is looking at as part of its investigation: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records.

The inclusion of the crimes indicates the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate those offenses as it was gathering evidence in the search, but no one has been charged.

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, Florida.
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, Florida. (Jon Elswick/AP)

What the FBI recovered: One of the newly unsealed documents is a search warrant “receipt” listing the items that the FBI collected from Mar-a-Lago. That document reveals FBI agents removed more than 20 boxes from Trump’s resort and residence in Palm Beach, as well as binders of photos, sets of classified government materials and at least one handwritten note.

According to the search warrant receipt, federal agents seized:

  • 1 set of “top secret/SCI” documents
  • 4 sets of “top secret” documents
  • 3 sets of “secret” documents
  • 3 sets of “confidential” documents.

Areas authorized for search: The court documents also offer new details about the search itself and revealed that FBI agents were only allowed access to specific locations within Mar-a-Lago as they combed Trump’s resort residence for potential evidence of crimes.

The judge authorized the FBI to search what the bureau called the “45 Office,” as well as “all other rooms or areas” at Mar-a-Lago that were available to Trump and his staff for storing boxes and documents. The FBI’s warrant application to the judge specifically said that federal agents would avoid areas being rented or used by third parties, “such as Mar-a-Lago members” and “private guest suites.”

Read more about what is in the search warrant here.

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