The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released the affidavit used to justify the FBI searching the home of president Donald Trump, shedding new light on the events leading up to the August 8 search. While the report was heavily redacted, the release demonstrated that the DOJ believed that there was probable cause to think that Trump had classified national security documents at locations throughout the Mar-a-Lago resort.
Details of ReportRead More »
The report also details the events leading up to the search at Mar-a-Lago. It was revealed that the FBI went through the 15 boxes of documents that had been retrieved from Trump’s Florida resort by the National Archives in January. Within these 15 boxes, the FBI identified 184 different documents that fell under a classification marking. Of these classified materials, 67 were marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents were under the designation of SECRET, and 25 were marked as TOP SECRET.
It was revealed that the FBI became involved in the issue in response to a criminal referral by the National Archives. This referral was dated February 9, signaling how long the investigation has been in federal hands.
The Archives stated that there was “significant concern” regarding the intermixing of the highly classified records with documents that had not been properly identified. According to the DOJ, the boxes recovered at the beginning of the year included a variety of personal records, printed news stories, photos, and more.
In addition, the report revealed that some of the retrieved documents included notes that appeared to be in the former president’s handwriting.
Reading through the report may be confusing to the average American thanks to the variety of acronyms used by officials. Here is a list of what these acronyms stand for:
- HCS – This indicates that the documents relate to human sources, otherwise known as spies. These sources often work closely with the CIA, making it important to guard their identities.
- FISA – This acronym relates to the surveillance material collected from foreign intelligence that was ordered by the court.
- ORCON – Material marked as ORCON means that the document is so sensitive in nature that the release must be approved by the originator.
- NOFRON – This designation means that the document is not allowed to be shared with any foreigners without special permission. This includes allies of the U.S.
- SI – Standing for “special intelligence,” this designation signals that the material should be handled by the National Security Agency.
What Was in the Redactions
At first glance, the report did not include a high amount of redactions. However, the latter pages of the report were heavily redacted. The DOJ also submitted a redacted legal brief just prior to the release of the affidavit. This brief explained why it needed to keep some of the information in the affidavit secret.
The reasons for the redactions ranged from the need to protect witnesses from threats to impacts on a criminal investigation that is still in process. The brief leans on federal criminal procedural rules to protect the secrecy of the grand jury investigation. In addition, there were reactions put in place to guard the safety of law enforcement agents. The DOJ is committed to guarding the identities of its personnel out of fear of retaliation.
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