The US Justice Department has asked a judge not to release the affidavit that likely prompted the FBI to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
The affidavit should not be unsealed, as it could reveal the scope of the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized holding of government secrets, the Justice Department argued, days after Mar-a-Lago’s search warrant showed it referenced possible violations of three criminal statutes.
FBI agents seized about 20 boxes of material a week ago — including documents marked Top Secret — and executed a search warrant that referenced the Espionage Act prohibiting the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or an adversary. might help, forbids.
“The affidavit would serve as a roadmap for the government’s ongoing investigation, with specific details on its direction and likely course,” the Justice Department said, adding it did not oppose opening either a cover page or a sealing warrant that would cause no harm. the criminal investigation.
In its argument against disclosing the affidavit, the Justice Department also said the disclosure could harm its ability to obtain cooperation from witnesses, not only in the Mar-a-Lago investigation, but also other witnesses who seem to hit the former president.
“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would likely also facilitate future cooperation of witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” prosecutors added.
The existence of potential witnesses who could still participate in a number of investigations against Trump — apparently people with a deep knowledge of the former president’s activities — once again startled close advisers on Monday, further fueling mistrust within his inner political circle. was enlarged.
The lack of understanding of what the Justice Department plans to do with the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government documents has deeply frustrated Trump’s legal team and aides in a week of perilous moments for the former president.
At least one attorney on Trump’s legal team — led by former US assistant attorney Evan Corcoran, who also acted as the attorney for Trump’s former top strategist Steve Bannon — has called in a reporter covering the story for some insight into how the Justice Department could proceed next.
It added to the already fraught atmosphere within the limited group of advisers who have the daily role around Trump, which erupted shortly after the FBI left Mar-a-Lago and raised suspicions that a person close to the former president was an informant. had become for the FBI.
That speculation came in part amid growing knowledge of how the FBI might have found a probable cause of a crime being committed in Mar-a-Lago using new or recent information — to avoid making the probable cause “outdated.” would be – by means of a confidential informant.
According to multiple sources close to Trump, suspicions initially centered on Nicholas Luna, the longtime Trump body man who stepped down from his duties around March, and Molly Michael, the former White House Operations Chief, who is still on the run. payroll is only due to early departure.
Luna was subpoenaed by the Congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol bombing but has not spoken to the FBI about the matter, one of the sources said. And while Michael plans to leave Trump’s job as well, the source said, her departure — like Luna’s — isn’t bitter.
The focus in the middle of the week shifted to Mar-a-Lago employees and other personnel at the exclusive resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the sources said, seemingly in part because the FBI knew exactly which rooms and where in the rooms to put them. Search.
But by the weekend, and after it was revealed that the FBI had removed a leather-bound box from the property and already knew the location of Trump’s vault, control shifted again to someone else not yet suspected — including members of Trump’s family, the sources said.
A spokesman for the former president did not respond to a request for comment. Calls to Trump attorneys went unanswered or went straight to voicemail. Justice declined to comment on Monday’s investigation or request.
Nevertheless, the escalating mistrust and rampant speculation about an informant is beginning to reach dizzying levels, even by the standards of the Trump presidency, which in many ways has been characterized by competing interests and political backstabbing, the sources said.
It remains unclear whether the FBI relied on confidential informants, and the Guardian first reported that the search was in part because the Justice Department was beginning to become concerned that classified material was left behind in Mar-a-Lago as a result of interactions with Trump’s lawyers.
At least one Trump lawyer signed a document — apparently incorrectly — confirming to the Justice Department that there was no more classified material at Mar-a-Lago after federal officials removed 10 boxes of government documents in June, the sources said. , what confirmation from a New York Times report.