by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 16, 2022) — Early Tuesday evening, 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump wrote on his TruthSocial site that the Justice Department and FBI returned passports confiscated during the raid of his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida last Monday morning.
“The DOJ and FBI just returned my passports,” he wrote at approximately 5:30 p.m. EDT. “Thank you! Unfortunately, when they Raided my home, Mar-a-Lago, 8 days ago, they just opened their arms and grabbed everything in sight, much as a common criminal would do. This shouldn’t happen in America!”
Reports say the materials taken from a locked storage area of the estate consist of between 12 and 27 boxes. According to the search warrant, which was released Friday along with a list of property “seized,” some of the boxes were said to contain classified or “top secret” documents. Despite that, the warrant authorized FBI agents to take any and all documents generated during Trump’s presidency.
The documents were reportedly the subject of Justice Department scrutiny stemming from an issue arising with the National Archives in February. According to Fox News, “David Ferriero, who served as the director of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from November 2009 until he retired this past April, said in a February letter to House Oversight Committee leadership that his staff had started communicating with the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this year” in regard to the missing documents.
Trump and his attorneys have said they were working cooperatively through early June with the Department and the Archives to provide any documents the agency requested and that 15 boxes of materials had already been returned.
Trump attorneys additionally maintain that all “classified” documents were sent to the Archives, and Trump and former members of his administration have said he “declassified” all of the documents stored at Mar-a-Lago before leaving the White House.
Trump has also been urging the Justice Department to grant a release of the affidavit underlying the search warrant. The Department has refused, although Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, who signed the warrant although the fact pattern suggests he is not a neutral figure, has scheduled an “in-person hearing” for Thursday at 1:00 p.m. to hear the matter of the affidavit, whose release a number of media organizations have requested.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump wrote that the FBI “demanded” the security cameras at Mar-a-Lago be shut off during the raid, a claim supported by Trump attorney Christina Bobb, who was “stuck in the parking lot” at the time, having been forbidden from entering.
On August 11, Bobb told Dr. Gina Loudon of Real America’s Voice that while the staff initially complied with the FBI’s request to turn off the cameras, “the lawyers jumped in” and asked they be switched on again, which reportedly occurred after “a very short period of time.”
Bobb also revealed that Trump and other family members, who were in New York at the time, “had the CCTV that they were able to watch” as the raid took place.
On Monday night’s “Hannity,” Trump’s second son Eric confirmed family members refused to shut off the cameras and that they will make the footage public “at the right time.”
Also on Monday, Trump posted on TruthSocial that, “There is no way to justify the unannounced RAID of Mar-a-Lago, the home of the 45th President of the United States (who got more votes, by far, than any sitting President in the history of our Country!), by a very large number of gun toting FBI Agents, and the Department of “Justice” but, in the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN. Also, the Judge on this case should recuse!”
The Justice Department has commented only once on the unprecedented search of a former president’s home, with Attorney General Merrick Garland departing the podium without taking questions from reporters.
According to USA Today Tuesday, citing an unnamed source, “Two top lawyers in Donald Trump’s White House have been interviewed by the FBI in relation to the ongoing investigation into the storage of classified documents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.”
A grand jury has reportedly been convened in the case of the allegedly classified documents, and the Justice Department is investigating Trump’s efforts to prove that he and not Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
Much of the reporting on the raid is politically-tinged.