The Department of Justice (DOJ) affidavit seeking a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago earlier this month was uncertain whether there were any documents containing “defense information” or just ordinary presidential records.
In the affidavit, submitted by an FBI special agent, the DOJ argued that based on 15 boxes of documents voluntarily submitted by Trump, which were disorganized and allegedly included documents bearing classified marks, there were reasons likely to believe that there were others. documents on the premises and that they were not properly stored securely.
Further, the DOJ stated that “there are probable grounds to believe that additional documents containing classified NDI [National Defense Information] or that are presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain on PREMISES. The key word is “or”; the DOJ didn’t know exactly what they were looking for. (He added that he might find “evidence of obstruction” — that is, a willful refusal to comply with previous White House requests for documents.)
Thus, the DOJ could not say with certainty whether it was seeking to enforce the criminal law against the mishandling of defense information, or whether it was seeking to enforce the Presidential Records Act, which has not criminal application.
Later in the affidavit, the FBI special agent admitted that he (or she) did not actually know whether the documents bearing the allegedly classified marks actually contained information about the defense; however, he (or she) simply asserted that “[b]From my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels usually contain NDI. Much of the affidavit has been redacted.
Joel B. Pollak is editor of Breitbart News and host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot Sunday nights from 7-10 p.m. ET (4-7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book Neither Free Nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His latest book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is the winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.