Redacted affidavit released: What did Trump say about the FBI search on Truth Social?
The former President’s Mar-a-Lago residence was raided as part of an ongoing investigation into the mishandling of sensitive top secret documents.
On Friday the affidavit supporting the FBI search on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was unsealed, outlining some of the reasons for the extraordinary raid.
The Justice Department had been reluctant to publish details pertaining to the case while the investigation is still ongoing, but Judge Bruce Reinhart ruled that it was in the public interest that a redacted version was released.
The document highlighted the extent of the trouble that Trump finds himself in. The 32-page redacted affidavit describes a previously unknown batch of 15 boxes of presidential documents that Trump took with him from the White House, which included 184 documents with classified markings and 25 with the top secret status.
Trump responded angrily to the affidavit’s release, taking to his own Truth Social site to write:
“Affidavit heavily redacted!!! Nothing mentioned on ‘Nuclear,’ a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI & DOJ, or our close working relationship regarding document turnover - WE GAVE THEM MUCH.”
The former President appeared to claim he was vindicated because there was no reference to “Nuclear” in the affidavit, but this does not detract from the growing momentum of the case against him.
The written affidavit, which is partially blacked-out to protect the identity of some witnesses, asserts that there was “probable cause” and “evidence of obstruction” found in those 15 boxes of documents. The affidavit states that the classified files recovered included national defense information (NDI).
Trump attacks Judge Reinhart in Truth Social rant
In a second post, Trump wrote “WITCH HUNT!!!” and slammed the judge who had authorised the search of his property on the basis of the evidence presented in the affidavit. Trump claimed:
“Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home. He recused himself two months ago from one of my cases based on his animosity and hatred of your favorite President, me. What changed? Why hasn’t he recused himself on this case? Obama must be very proud of him right now!”
Trump was referring to an earlier lawsuit that his team had launched against Hillary Clinton, The Democratic National Committee and others, demanding legal fees related to the Russia collusion case. Trump’s team claimed that his political rivals had “orchestrated an unthinkable plot” in an attempt to “cripple Trump’s bid for presidency” in the 2016 election.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the search warrant, recused himself from the earlier lawsuit. Judges are able to recuse themselves from a case if their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” Trump’s team have claimed that it is inconsistent for a judge who deemed himself unable to preside of Trump’s earlier case, to then rule on the approval of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant.
However reasons for recusal based on impartiality are not required to be published and there are myriad potential explanations for Judge Reinhart’s decision.
Recusal can be based on a financial interests in the case; having served in private practice on the same matter; holding a personal bias; or having a personal connection with someone involved in the case. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that Judge Reinhart’s “animosity and hatred” led him to recuse himself from the earlier case.
Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu told Newsweek: “There’s a tremendous lack of transparency about the reasons [for recusal]… It’s opaque, it’s a black box.”
The code of practice, she says, “pretty much leaves it up to the judge when to recuse.”
Despite Trump’s protestations, evidence presented in the affidavit does appear to show evidence that his team not only removed sensitive and top secret documents from the White House, but that they were initially unwilling to return the files when asked. Although a portion of the document was redacted, it is clear that there are grounds for a continued investigation and reason to worry for Trump and his team.
To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?