by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 18, 2022) — On Thursday’s edition of “The Dan Bongino Show,” host and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino shared his thoughts on the documents FBI agents were sent to retrieve during the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, FL home of 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump.
In the nation’s 246-year history, no sitting or former president has ever had his home searched by law enforcement, and the execution of an FBI search warrant shocked the nation after Trump himself announced it later that day.
At a press conference last Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland claimed the extremity of the raid was carefully weighed prior to its execution, although he did not elaborate and accepted no questions from reporters.
“The FBI warrant and inventory allege that 11 sets of sensitive information were recovered during the Mar-a-Lago search — including confidential, secret and top-secret documents,” ABC News reported Monday. “There was even top-secret, sensitive compartmented information (SCI) material. This classification of materials sometimes involves nuclear secrets and terrorism operations based on a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) overview of security protocols, which ABC News has reviewed.”
At the request of several media and investigatory outlets, the Justice Department last Friday released a redacted version of the property receipt listing the items FBI agents seized. At the same time, the warrant was made public, indicating many of the documents taken could have been considered “classified” or “top secret.”
The document appeared to suggest Trump may have violated three federal laws, although some analysts have stated the Presidential Records Act (PRA) does not have criminal ramifications.
According to CNN on February 9:
The National Archives has asked the Department of Justice to investigate former President Donald Trump’s handling of White House records, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The source said the Archives is seeking a review of whether Trump violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all records created by presidents be turned over to the National Archives at the end of their administrations, and other possible violations, including the handling of classified information.
It is not clear if the Justice Department will launch a formal investigation, as a vast majority of referrals to the department do not end up sparking a formal investigation. The Justice Department declined to comment.
Trump and his attorneys have argued all documents stored in the home were “declassified” prior to his departing the White House more than 18 months ago and that the former president did nothing wrong. Further, they say, the legal team was working cooperatively to provide the Archives the documents it requested through a subpoena. At a meeting on June 3, the attorneys have said, all responsive materials were provided to the Justice Department.
On Thursday at 1:00 p.m. EDT, Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart, who signed the warrant August 5, held a hearing with the purpose of determining whether the underlying FBI affidavit setting out the “probable cause” details of the warrant and search should be released publicly.
Some legal analysts have termed the warrant exceptionally “broad” given that it authorized agents to remove all documents generated during Trump’s presidency “between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021.” Some have said the raid in and of itself was unconstitutional.
Bongino acknowledged the upcoming hearing, presenting the theory that the materials the FBI sought are not what was stated in the warrant and that the FBI and Justice Department are treading on thin legal ground.
“…The FBI is hiding that affidavit for a reason,” Bongino opined. “What they swore in front of the judge they were looking for at this point is clearly not what they were looking for. What they’re looking for is to go and scrap evidence and get rid of evidence of their Spygate Russia-collusion hoax malfeasance…”
In 2016, the Hillary Clinton campaign spawned a rumor that the Trump campaign was “colluding” with the Russian government, giving rise to an FBI investigation, “Crossfire Hurricane,” into the Trump campaign and a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Carter Page, an informal Trump foreign-policy adviser who the facts later showed had been a reliable CIA source on Russia and did not act inappropriately with the Russian government.
The FBI probe affected Trump’s nascent presidency and was converted into a Special Counsel investigation conducted by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, who was unable to substantiate claims that anyone from the Trump campaign had “colluded” with Russia to affect the outcome of the election.
During its search of Mar-a-Lago the FBI took Trump’s three passports, two of which his attorneys said were “expired.” The FBI returned them Tuesday, Trump reported, for which he expressed his thanks on his TruthSocial platform. However, Trump added, “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!”
Trump and his attorneys have called for the release of the affidavit in its entirety, while the Justice Department argued against it, Fox News reported during the 3:00 p.m. hour. Reinhart was inclined, the report said, to grant “partial” release of the affidavit after providing Justice one week to make appropriate redactions.
The “investigation,” DOJ lawyers argued, is “in its early stages.”
Trump attorneys attended but did not speak during the hearing, Fox reported.
Before turning to a source he believes has accurate information as to the reason for the raid, Bongino argued that if the documents sought had posed a true “national security” threat, as the media has reported, citing “administration sources,” he believes the elements would have “leaked out.”
Bongino pointed to a Newsweek article published Wednesday titled, “FBI Sought Documents Trump Hoarded for Years, Including about Russiagate,” reading from and displaying the initial paragraph, which states:
The sought-after documents deal with a variety of intelligence matters of interest to the former president, the officials suggest—including material that Trump apparently thought would exonerate him of any claims of Russian collusion in 2016 or any other election-related charges.
The article also includes the admission that the warrant was based on a “pretext”:
To justify the unprecedented raid on a former president’s residence and protect the source who revealed the existence of Trump’s private hoard, agents went into Trump’s residence on the pretext that they were seeking all government documents, says one official who has been involved in the investigation. But the true target was this private stash, which Justice Department officials feared Donald Trump might weaponize.
Arguing that Democrats have long accused Republican presidential candidates of “colluding with a foreign government,” Bongino said, “They tried the same thing with McCain, the exact same thing…this is the plan.”
Bongino also quoted from an article published by JusttheNews founder John Solomon citing a 2012 case brought by Judicial Watch seeking audiotapes from the National Archives which 42nd President Bill Clinton was known to have taken after leaving office and stored in a dresser drawer.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson presided, ruling against Judicial Watch, writing in her opinion that “NARA does not have the authority to designate materials as ‘Presidential records…'”
The Court will grant the motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) because plaintiff’s
claim is not redressable. NARA does not have the authority to designate materials as
“Presidential records,” NARA does not have the tapes in question, and NARA lacks any right, duty, or means to seize control of them. In other words, there has been no showing that a remedy would be available to redress plaintiff’s alleged injury even if the Court agreed with plaintiff’s characterization of the materials. Since plaintiff is completely unable to identify anything the Court could order the agency to do that the agency has any power, much less, a mandatory duty, to do, the case must be dismissed.
At 22:26, Bongino referenced a recent guest on the Tim Pool show, Lt. Col. Derek Harvey (Ret), in an episode guest-hosted by Human Events Editor Jack Posobiec. “He was one of the lead guys, investigators working with Devin Nunes and Kash Patel and others on the fake Russia-collusion hoax the FBI made up with the Hillary team in order to spy on Donald Trump,” Bongino said. “Believe me, if anybody knows what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s Derek Harvey.”
Bongino then played a video segment in which Harvey told Posobiec, “I really think that one of the things that they had down there were the Russia hoax documents from the CIA showing CIA and FBI culpability for numerous investigations. Director Ratcliffe, former DNI Director Ratcliffe, has talked about this. I think that’s probably one of the things that they would have had down there, ’cause he ordered those to be declassified. The fact that DOJ did not go through the process over there for further dissemination of these documents as declassified doesn’t make those documents any less –“
“So you’re talking about the underlying Spygate documents, the original documents that started the entire operation that became Russiagate, that became the dossier, everything else,” Posobiec responded. “We’re talking about the original electronic communications and everything else that was pulled…?”
“For example, the investigation of what CIA was actually doing and the evidence that they looked at to come up with the conclusion that Russia wanted Trump to win in the 2016 election,” Harvey replied. “There’s tremendous documentation there that shows malfeasance and culpability; they cherry-picked information to get to a conclusion, and the overwhelming amount of evidence that pointed in another direction was put on the cutting-room floor.”
Shortly before the hearing commenced Thursday, Trump posted a link, with only its title and no additional commentary: “‘Memorandum on Declassification of Certain Materials Related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.'”
The referenced memo, dated January 29, 2021, begins:
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
SUBJECT: Declassification of Certain Materials Related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
Section 1. Declassification and Release. At my request, on December 30, 2020, the Department of Justice provided the White House with a binder of materials related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Portions of the documents in the binder have remained classified and have not been released to the Congress or the public. I requested the documents so that a declassification review could be performed and so I could determine to what extent materials in the binder should be released in unclassified form.
I determined that the materials in that binder should be declassified to the maximum extent possible. In response, and as part of the iterative process of the declassification review, under a cover letter dated January 17, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted its continuing objection to any further declassification of the materials in the binder and also, on the basis of a review that included Intelligence Community equities, identified the passages that it believed it was most crucial to keep from public disclosure. I have determined to accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI in that January 17 submission.
I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder. This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy.
At approximately the same time, Trump tweeted a link to a Daily Mail article from October 7, 2020, titled, “Trump authorizes ‘total’ declassification of ALL documents related to Hillary’s email scandal and the ‘Russia hoax’ as he calls the FBI ‘scum.'”
Shortly before 5:00 p.m. EDT, he further posted a link leading to an article by RealClearPolitics titled, “FBI Unit Leading Mar-a-Lago Probe Earlier Ran Discredited Trump-Russia Investigation.”