A U.S. federal judge has unsealed further portions of the legal document the FBI submitted justifying its reasons to secure a search warrant of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of its investigation of his handling of classified documents after he left the White House in January 2021.
The portions of the affidavit that were unsealed Tuesday shows investigators served a subpoena on the Trump Organization, the ex-president’s company, on June 24 demanding any video footage and photographs from the surveillance cameras located near a storage room in the resort where dozens of boxes filled with classified material. The affidavit says the Trump Organization handed over a hard drive with the surveillance footage on July 6 in response to the subpoena.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, seizing nearly 13,000 items, including more than 100 classified records.
The FBI is investigating several possible criminal offenses in connection with Trump’s retention of presidential records, including a potential violation of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice.
The FBI investigation suffered a setback last week after a federal judge ordered the appointment of a special master and temporarily barred agents from using the records, including classified documents.
The Justice Department has said it would appeal the ruling by Judge Aileen Cannon unless she allows agents to regain access to the classified documents and bars the special master from viewing them. The department has given Cannon until Thursday to issue a “partial stay” of her order.
The Justice Department and the Trump legal team have each proposed two candidates to serve as special master.
In a late Monday court filing, the Justice Department indicated it would accept one of the two candidates proposed by Trump lawyers: Raymond Dearie, a federal judge on “senior active” status.
Dearie and the department’s own candidates — retired federal judges Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith — have “substantial judicial experience, during which they have presided over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privilege concerns,” the filing said.
The Justice Department opposed the Trump team’s other candidate, Paul Huck Jr., former Deputy Attorney General for the State of Florida, saying he “does not appear to have similar experience.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested the National Archives to conduct a review of all presidential records from the Trump administration to determine whether any records “may still be outside the agency’s custody and control.” In a letter requesting the review, Maloney said staffers from the Archives recently told the committee the agency is not certain it has all the records from the Trump White House.
Maloney asked the Archives, the agency that collects and preserves all official government documents, for an initial assessment of its findings by September 27.
The investigation of the missing documents is taking place as the Justice Department appears to be widening its probe of efforts by former President Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The New York Times reported Monday that the Justice Department has issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week to various people connected to both the Trump administration and his re-election campaign, from low-level aides to senior advisers to the former president.
One is reportedly Dan Scavino, who served as Trump’s White House social media director and has remained as an adviser to the former president. Another is Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, who pushed claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election along with former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, also a longtime close ally of Trump, the Times reported.
In addition, Boris Epshteyn, a longtime Trump adviser, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist for Trump, had their phones seized last week as evidence.
The latest steps by the Justice Department represent a sharp escalation in its investigation into Trump’s attempt to hang on to power despite losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
The subpoenas issued over the past week sought information about two separate lines of inquiry. One is examining efforts by Trump associates to enlist fake presidential electors in battleground states won by Biden. The other is focused on Save America PAC, a fundraising group created by Trump after the 2020 election.
The inquiries grew out of the Justice Department’s expansive investigation into the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. That sprawling investigation, which has led to the arrest of more than 800 people, is ongoing.
The Justice Department is seeking any records or communications from people who organized, addressed, or provided security for Trump’s rally at the Ellipse in front of the White House that preceded the attack, the Times reported.
VOA Justice Correspondent Masood Farivar contributed to this article. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.