FBI claims in affidavit that it had ‘probable cause to believe’ Trump possessed high-level secret docs

On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart approved the release of a heavily-redacted affidavit that gave the FBI legal permission to raid the private residence of a former president.

Very little was revealed in the affidavit, and many believe it raises more questions than it answered, by far. But in one section, Fox News reported, it was revealed that the FBI claimed it had “probable cause to believe” that Trump had a number of extremely classified and secret documents at his Mar-a-Lago compound.

The affidavit specifically mentioned that the FBI believed, based on information from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), that Trump was in possession of National Defense Information (NDI), which is among some of the most sensitive information one can have.

It’s difficult to discern what motivated the FBI and DOJ to launch the raid, given the unprecedented nature of the ordeal, but America will likely not find out anytime soon, if ever, as roughly 2o pages of the 38-page affidavit were either completely or nearly completely redacted.

The documents

It was in January of this year that the Trump team had turned over 15 boxes of records to NARA for review, and several months would pass before the FBI began to review the records in May.

In its search, the FBI claimed 14 of the 15 boxes contained various levels of classified documents, which they also claimed in the affidavit were not properly filed and organized.

“A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET,” the affidavit reads.

The affidavit also states that in the search of the documents, FBI agents observed documents “reflecting the following compartments/dissemination controls: HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI,” adding that based on “training and experience,” documents “classified at these levels typically contain NDI.”

“Based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, I submit that probable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e), 2071, or 1519 will be found at the PREMISES,” the unnamed witness in the affidavit stated, thus prompting the unprecedented “probable cause” that allowed the FBI to raid a former president’s home.

Why the redactions?

The judge and the DOJ were heavily criticized by those from both sides of the political aisle for not releasing more details as to what, exactly, convinced AG Merrick Garland that raiding Trump’s home would be the best route, instead of following protocol and negotiating the terms to take the records back.

DOJ and the federal magistrate judge agreed that “the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties,” the investigation’s “strategy, direction, scope, sources and methods,” and “grand jury information” were protected by federal rules, which is why the affidavit was nearly totally redacted, as predicted by legal scholars in the days leading up to the decision to release it.

If Trump has been charged with a crime, Americans will eventually learn the contents of the affidavit through the discovery process, but if he’s not, it just goes to prove that this was nothing less than an illegal political witch hunt against a political opponent.

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