PALM BEACH, Fla. – The FBI recovered documents that were labeled “top secret” from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, according to court papers released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized the unprecedented search this week.
Also, of note was an “executive grand of clemency for Roger Stone,” which led Stone to release a statement almost immediately.
A property receipt unsealed by the court shows FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from the estate during a search on Monday. The property receipt is a document prepared by federal agents to specify what was taken during a search.
(See the warrant, list of items receipt)
ABC News reports that the receipt showing property from Trump’s estate were of various classifications ranging from confidential, sensitive, and top secret. There were reportedly more than 20 boxes taken, which contained:
Four sets of top secret documents.
Three sets of secret documents.
Three sets of confidential documents.
Other items included in the receipt were an executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone, one labeled “Info re: President of France,” binders of photos, a “potential presidential record” and a leather-bound box of documents.
Stone released a statement Friday, which stated:
“I have no knowledge as to the facts surrounding why the documents related to the clemency granted to me by President Trump appear on the inventory of items seized from the former President’s home at Mar-a-Lago. My commutation and pardon were acts of both mercy and justice extended by President Trump over 2 years ago in a completely legal and appropriate manner. I am grateful that the president recognized the fabricated nature of both the charges against me and my conviction in a corrupted trial.”
The Washington Post reported that federal agents were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons. In fact, ABC News learned that earlier this year, Trump was subpoenaed to give back improperly removed documents when he left the White House adding that the DOJ tried to get him to turn them over without a search warrant.
A small team of FBI agents visited his Florida home in early June. It’s there they met with Trump’s lawyers concluding that the former president still had not turned everything over, which led to Monday’s search.
Trump claimed Friday that the documents seized by agents at his Florida club were “all declassified,” and argued that he would have turned over the documents to the Justice Department if asked.
While incumbent presidents have the power to declassify information, that authority lapses as soon as they leave office and it was not clear if the documents in question have ever been declassified. Trump also kept possession of the documents despite multiple requests from agencies, including the National Archives, to turn over presidential records in accordance with federal law.
Local 10′s Legal Analyst David Weinstein says that the three criminal statutes that were potentially violated were what led to probable cause to execute the search warrant.
18 U.S. Code § 793 (the “espionage act”), which penalizes—among other potentially less damaging things—those who are convicted of “obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation.
18 U.S. Code § 2071, concealment, removal, or mutilation generally of federal records.
18 U.S. Code § 1519, obstruction of justice.
So, what is the timeline of what could happen next?
“They will take the documents that they’ve seized and present them to the grand jury that is investigating the allegations of what took place and they will ask the grand jury to consider the indictment to individuals for taking them and keeping them in a place that they shouldn’t have been,” Weinstein says, adding that, although it isn’t a law but the DOJ has an internal law that they won’t indict and arrest people who are running for office. “I think that using a more conservative approach, it will probably happen after the November elections.”