US justice department files redacted Trump search affidavit – live

Justice department files redacted Mar-a-Lago search affidavit

The justice department has filed the affidavit justifying the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, a day after a federal magistrate judge ordered its release.

The document has been redacted, but could offer details of the alleged crimes that brought the FBI to Donald Trump’s Florida resort earlier this month and opened up yet another legal front for the embattled former president.

You can read documents concerning the affidavit here.

Key events

The identity of the FBI agent who filed the affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search is of course redacted. He or she describes himself or herself as “a Special Agent with the FBI assigned to the Washington Field Office”, trained “at the FBI Academy located at Quantico, Virginia, specific to counterintelligence and espionage investigations”.

“Based on my experience and training,” the agent writes, “I am familiar with efforts used to unlawfully collect, retain, and disseminate sensitive government information, including classified” information.

The agent details the origins of the investigation and the documents sought, which we know much about, and writes: “The FBI’s investigation has established that documents bearing classification markings, which appear to contain National Defense Information (NDI), were among the materials contained in the FIFTEEN BOXES and were stored at the PREMISES in an unauthorized location.

“Further, there is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES. There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES.”

The agent adds: “Based upon the following facts, there is probable cause to believe that the locations to be searched at the PREMISES contain evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed.”

The affidavit is now out. It is here.

DoJ: Affidavit would be ‘roadmap for obstruction’

Speaking of proposed redactions to the affidavit concerning the Mar-a-Lago search … here’s a screengrab of what has been filed today, and quoted in my previous post.

A shot of the DoJ paperwork quoting from the affidavit.
A shot of the DoJ paperwork quoting from the affidavit. Photograph: Court Listener

The document as filed and released continues:

Although the public is now aware that the government executed a search warrant at the premises owned by the former President and seized documents marked as classified, the affidavit is replete with further details that would provide a roadmap for anyone intent on obstructing the investigation.

“Maximizing the Government’s access to untainted facts · increases its ability to make a fully-informed prosecutive decision” … For example …

… and then we have many more black lines.

The paperwork just released, containing portions of the affidavit, is as predicted heavily redacted.

The document says: “Information in the affidavit could be used to identify many, if not all, of these witnesses. For example” – which is followed by a long redacted passage.

The document then adds: “If witnesses’ identities are exposed, they could be subjected to harms including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety. As the court has already noted, ‘these concerns are not hypothetical in this case’.”

Another redacted passage follows, then the following text appears:

“Meanwhile, FBI agents who have been publicly identified in connection with this investigation have received repeated threats of violence from members of the public. Exposure of witnesses’ identities would likely erode their trust in the government’s investigation, and it would almost certainly chill other potential witnesses from coming forward in this investigation and others.”

Justice department files redacted Mar-a-Lago search affidavit

The justice department has filed the affidavit justifying the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, a day after a federal magistrate judge ordered its release.

The document has been redacted, but could offer details of the alleged crimes that brought the FBI to Donald Trump’s Florida resort earlier this month and opened up yet another legal front for the embattled former president.

You can read documents concerning the affidavit here.

We have the order to unseal the affidavit used in the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, but not the redacted affidavit itself, yet.

Ramon Antonio Vargas

An expectant Louisiana woman who is carrying a skull-less fetus that would die almost immediately after birth has cemented plans to travel to North Carolina to terminate her pregnancy after her local medical provider dithered on performing the procedure, citing fear that the state’s abortion ban outlawed it.

Standing on the steps of Louisiana’s Capitol building in her hometown of Baton Rouge, Nancy Davis, 36, announced this morning that her grim trip would be next week, financed by more than $30,000 in donations raised by an online GoFundMe campaign launched after she went public with her plight earlier this month.

Her lawyer, the prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, called on Louisiana’s lawmakers to at least clarify the wording of their abortion ban – if not repeal it altogether – to prevent anyone else from enduring what Davis and her family had during the last several weeks.

The state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, should call a special legislative session in advance of the regular one scheduled to begin in April of next year to do that if necessary, Crump said.

“Louisiana lawmakers inflicted unspeakable pain, emotional damage and physical risk upon this beautiful mother,” Crump said, gesturing at Davis, who was accompanied by her partner Shedric Cole, their young daughter and her two stepchildren.

“They replaced care with confusion, privacy with politics and options with ideology.

“Ms Davis was among the first women to be caught in this crosshairs of confusion due to Louisiana’s rush to restrict abortion. But she will hardly be the last.”

Here’s more on the story:

Joe Biden has just been asked if he thinks national security might have been compromised at Mar-a-Lago while Donald Trump was storing classified documents there.

The president’s answer, per the wire services and the pool reporter: “We’ll let the justice department determine that.”

Still waiting for the release of the redacted affidavit behind the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, which is due by noon.

Three new sealed filings have appeared online in the federal court system related to the Mar-a-Lago case, Politico reports:

For those following along at home or elsewhere, 3 sealed filings have been docketed in last 10 minutes in the Trump Mar-a-Lago search warrant case. Not clear whether that’s what we’re eventually supposed to get or whether DOJ is asking for last-minute changes….

— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) August 26, 2022

Since they are not public, it’s unclear what they are, but a federal magistrate judge gave the justice department until noon eastern time today to make the redacted affidavit justifying the search public.

Why might the FBI have been so worried about the potential that government secrets were stored at Mar-a-Lago?

As we await the release of the redacted affidavit from federal agents’ search of the property, an investigation by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project appears to indicate that an imposter repeatedly entered the resort last year, and mingled with Donald Trump.

The outlets found that a woman named Inna Yashchyshyn posed as a member of a famous European banking family and managed to get into the ex-president’s Florida club, playing a round of golf at a nearby course with Trump and his ally senator Lindsey Graham in May 2021.

Here’s more from the story:

The ability of Ms. Yashchyshyn — the daughter of an Illinois truck driver — to bypass the security at Mr. Trump’s club demonstrates the ease with which someone with a fake identity and shadowy background can get into a facility that’s one of America’s power centers and the epicenter of Republican Party politics.

Those issues have become even more critical after FBI agents seized boxes of classified and top-secret materials two weeks ago from Mar-a-Lago after executing a search warrant on Mr. Trump’s home.

Her entry — multiple trips in and out of the club grounds — lays bare the vulnerabilities of a facility that serves as both the former president’s residence and a private club, and highlights the gaps in security that can take place.

“That’s his residence,” said Ed Martin, a former U.S. Treasury special agent who spent more than two decades in criminal intelligence. “She shouldn’t have been in there.”

Relax, Californian fans of Gavin Newsom: the governor says he will not be running for president in 2024.

In an interview with ABC News, he was rather vehement in his answer:

The Democrat is standing for re-election to a second term as California’s governor, and if he wins, will keep the post until January 2027.

However, not all pro-abortion Republicans appear to be equally vulnerable.

A poll released today of voters in Missouri by Saint Louis University and YouGov found Republican candidate Eric Schmitt with a strong lead in the race for the open Senate seat. He was up 49% against his Democratic challenger Trudy Busch Valentine, who polled at 38%.

Schmitt is the state’s current attorney general, and made a point of quickly implementing Missouri’s abortion ban after the supreme court overturned Roe v. Wade. And unlike Arizona, Missouri is these days solidly Republican, having not voted for a Democratic president since 1996.

The states that have newly banned abortion are all Republican led, but not all in the party appear ready to embrace such rhetoric, particularly if they are running for election. Consider the case of Blake Masters.

He’s the GOP nominee for Senate in Arizona, and is up against Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, who appears to be leading among voters. NBC News reports that, for whatever reason, Masters has removed the most strident anti-abortion rhetoric from his campaign website on Thursday. Five of his six positions have been deleted or rewritten, according to the story, among them, “I am 100% pro-life,” which is now gone entirely.

Also removed is a mention of Masters’ support for “a federal personhood law (ideally a Constitutional amendment) that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed.”

Here’s more from their story:

Masters previously expressed support for “the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, the SAVE Moms and Babies Act, and other pro-life legislation.” The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would make it a criminal offense to perform or attempt to perform an abortion 20 weeks after conception.

Now the website states he backs “a law or a Constitutional amendment that bans late term (third trimester) abortion and partial-birth abortion at the federal level” and “pro-life legislation, pregnancy centers, and programs that make it easier for pregnant women to support a family and decide to choose life.”

Among the potential reasons why Masters may have opted to soften his rhetoric: Kansas voters’ rejection earlier this month of an effort to change the state constitution to ban abortion.

The White House has condemned a slew of new abortion restrictions that recently went into effect in four states.

“Today marks the latest attack against the fundamental rights of Americans as new abortion bans go into effect in Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

She continued:

These extreme bans will criminalize abortion, in some cases without exceptions for rape or incest. These near-total abortion bans are part of a growing effort by Republican legislators to roll back the freedoms Americans have relied on for nearly half a century. Today’s radical steps take away women’s reproductive rights and put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians instead of women and their doctors, threatening women’s health and lives. Americans need to know that these and other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception and marriage equality, are at risk. Congress should act immediately to pass a law restoring the protections of Roe–and people across the country to should make their voices heard.

The Biden Administration’s renewed feistiness was in full effect last night when the normally staid White House twitter account began calling out Republicans.

Whoever was behind the official account took issue with GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden’s student loan relief plan announced earlier this week, and highlighted the politicians’ own history of benefiting from debt forgiveness.

As he courted voters in Democrat-friendly Maryland last night, Joe Biden sought to cast the Republican party as extreme and play up his own recent legislative accomplishments. Joan E Greve was there, and filed this report on the renewed optimism in the Democratic party:

Joe Biden has transformed his rough July into a jubilant August. Last month, the US president was drowning in negative headlines about his handling of numerous crises, from the war in Ukraine to record-high gas prices and the apparent demise of his signature legislative proposal.

Now, as the summer draws to a close, Biden is riding high, powered by the passage of Democrats’ climate and healthcare package and glimmers of hope for his party’s prospects in the midterm elections. That optimism was on vivid display on Thursday, as Biden took the stage for a rally held by the Democratic National Committee in Rockville, Maryland.

“We’ve come a long way in 18 months. Covid no longer controls our lives. A record number of Americans are working,” Biden told the cheering crowd. “We never gave up. We never gave in. We’re delivering for the American people now.”

Get ready to learn more about the investigation that sparked the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort earlier this month – but don’t get your hopes up too high.

In response to a lawsuit from media organizations and other groups, a federal magistrate judge yesterday ordered the release of the affidavit from the search, which should contain details like the probable cause that justified the warrant. But Bruce Reinhart also allowed the justice department to redact “the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties… the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, and… grand jury information.”

The document could therefore potentially contain lots of blacked out lines rather than new information. But as The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reported yesterday, “depending on how the affidavit was produced, several former US attorneys said, it could also contain elements that are not directly related to the investigation, such as descriptions of potential crimes that the justice department suspected were being committed at Mar-a-Lago.”

Deadline looms for release of Mar-a-Lago affidavit as Biden decries Republicans’ ‘semi-fascism’

Good morning, US politics blog readers. The justice department has a noon eastern time deadline to make public the affidavit used to justify the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, after a judge ordered its release yesterday. While the document could provide new details of the investigation, it will also be redacted – perhaps heavily. Meanwhile, Joe Biden last night accused Republicans who aligned with Donald Trump of veering into “semi-fascism” as he sought to rally Democrats’ enthusiasm ahead of the November midterm elections.

And in case that isn’t enough, here’s what else we can expect today:

  • Today is Women’s Equality Day, and Biden is set to make an appearance at a White House meeting on protecting abortion access at 11 am eastern time.

  • Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is making a major speech on the central bank’s efforts to lower inflation without causing a recession at 10am eastern time.