Deadline looms for release of Mar-a-Lago search warrant

Politics

(NewsNation) — An impending afternoon deadline looms in the contentious investigation into dozens of classified White House documents and the unsealing of the search warrant to obtain them from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

It is thought details in the search warrant will give a clearer picture of the dozens of classified documents NewsNation has confirmed FBI agents found, what exactly the FBI was looking for and why they would engage in the unprecedented search of the former president’s Palm Beach, Florida, home. 

Speaking out publicly about the search for the first time, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Thursday a request for the search warrant that authorized the FBI to perform the search be unsealed.

Although Garland did not reveal what the FBI was looking for, he did say he approved the search, citing “substantial public interest in this matter.”

The decision on whether to unseal the records lay with U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, the same judge who signed off on the search warrant. 

Reinhart has set a deadline of 3 p.m. EDT Friday for Trump’s legal team to decide if they are going to object to the release of the contents of the warrant.

It’s not immediately clear when — or if — such a request might be granted by the judge or when the documents could be released. Since this pertains to potentially highly classified documents, they could be released highly redacted, revealing few details.

Appearing on NewsNation’s “On Balance With Leland Vittert,” Trump lawyer Christina Bobb said “it doesn’t appear” they would object to releasing the search warrant that prompted the search of Mar-a-Lago.

Bobb said they were surprised by the FBI raid, having believed to that point they had cooperated amply with federal investigators. Bobb said Trump handed over everything investigators had asked for prior to the search. Federal authorities indicated otherwise.

On Thursday night, Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, that not only will he not oppose the release of the warrant, but he also encourages it.

“Release the documents now!” he posted.

Trump called the search of his estate a “surprise attack” and alleged it was a “targeted raid.”

Bobb said the Trump legal team would be open to making the documents public, but needed to confer with the Justice Department first.

“We’re waiting to hear back from them,” Bobb told NewsNation. “We’re very eager. We know that people want information, and we’re eager to respond as best as possible in coordination with the Department of Justice so we’re just waiting to hear back from them.”

NewsNation has confirmed that FBI agents found dozens of classified documents during their search that sources say the former president may have taken with him when he left the White House in 2021.

According to NewsNation sources, investigators discovered classified documents in two areas: Trump’s personal office above a ballroom and in a storage room near the pool. Sources say there were “boxes everywhere,” with some containing Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). Those are considered some of the highest level of classified documents.

According to a review by The Wall Street Journal, FBI agents removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked as top secret and meant to be only available in special government facilities.

Classified nuclear weapons documents may have been among the items the FBI found, according to a source cited by the Washington Post.

The New York Times then reported that the search was focused on material relating to “some of the most highly classified programs run by the United States,” according to an anonymous source cited by that publication.

Since the documents are so secretive, it’s unknown if investigators will ever publicly acknowledge what they’re in reference to, let alone release them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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