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Trump news - live: Ex-White House counsel interviewed by FBI over Mar-a-Lago docs

Department of Justice says releasing vital document could compromise efforts to secure witness cooperation

What happened during the FBI Mar-a-Lago raid?

The Department of Justice has returned passports belonging to former president Donald Trump that agents took during last week’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

According to an email from the department shared by a Trump spokesperson, the bureau’s “filter agents” seized three passports in Mr Trump’s name, two of them expired and one of them his active diplomatic passport.

Meanwhile, a date has been set for a Florida federal court to hear arguments on whether or not to unseal the affidavit that provided justification for the search. The hearing will take place this Thursday at 1pm.

The Department of Justice has rebuffed efforts to make the affidavit supporting the search warrant The department argues that the document contains sensitive information about witnesses, and that releasing it could “chill” further efforts to secure the co-operation of others with information crucial to its investigations.

Mr Trump yesterday gave his first interview since the raid, a discussion with Fox News Digital in which he acknowledged that the temperature of public discourse “has to be brought down” as angry supporters fume at the FBI raid. However, he continued to frame the search as part of a political witch hunt.

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Ex-White House counsel interviewed by FBI over Mar-a-Lago docs

White House counsel Pat Cipollone and another attorney with the Trump administration have spoken with the FBI in regards to the execution of a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago for classified materials, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Mr Cipollone notably previously testified before the January 6 committee and showed, from their statements, near-total if not complete cooperation with their lines of questioning.

Patrick Philbin, the second-most senior person in the White House counsel’s office on January 6, was also interviewed.

Read more at the Times:

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Why is the FBI keeping the Trump affidavit sealed?

The Department of Justice has told the federal magistrate judge who approved last week’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, home and office that it opposes unsealing a copy of the sworn statement prosecutors used to apply for a search warrant because it would jeopardise multiple ongoing investigations and could damage national security.

Last week, multiple news organisations asked Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhardt to unseal all materials relating to the warrant, which authorised FBI agents to search Mr Trump’s home and office at his Mar-a-Lago social club for “any physical documents with classification markings”, “information, including communications in any form, regarding the retrieval, storage, or transmission of national [defence] information or classified material”, any government records created during Mr Trump’s administration and any evidence of “knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment” of such records.

With a court hearing on unsealing the document scheduled for 1pm on Thursday, Andrew Feinberg reports on the developing story.

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What’s next for Liz Cheney?

As Representative Liz Cheney looks as likely as ever to lose tonight’s Wyoming congressional primary, the speculation over what’s next for the never-Trump Republican has grown. Indeed, in her final campaign video released last Thursday, Ms Cheney’s closing argument resonated more as a public notice that she, and the rest of the Republican Party for that matter, would not be defeated by Trumpism.

So assuming she isn’t on the verge of one of the US’s all-time greatest polling upsets, what’s next for the arch-conservative-turned-iconoclast? Johanna Chisholm writes:

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Kinzinger hits back at false Mar-a-Lago narrative

Adam Kinzinger, the retiring Republican congressman who sits on the 6 January select committee and who recently described the GOP’s embrace of Trump as “creepy”, is once again out fighting against false narratives about the Mar-a-Lago raid and its aftermath.

This time, his target is the claim that it was Mr Trump who released the search warrant for the raid, as opposed to Attorney General Merrick Garland:

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Meet Trump’s Mar-a-Lago legal team

Former President Donald Trump has put a trio of new lawyers on defence duty following the FBI‘s search of Mar-a-Lago to recover sensitive government documents. However, the trio have failed to impress during their numerous right-wing media appearances, in some cases planting conspiracy theories.

The trio of lawyers are former OAN anchor Alina Habba, Lindsey Halligan, and Christina Bobb – all of whom have participated in spreading dubious, false and mutually contradictory tales of what happened and why when Mar-a-Lago was raided.

Graig Graziosi has a rundown.

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What it’s like to receive Trump’s emails

The Mar-a-Lago raid has sent the Trump fundraising operation into overdrive, the former president and his team seizing on the anger of his base to ask them to part with their money. For those who happen not to be on Mr Trump’s email lists, Richard Hall has this glimpse into an often bizarre world:

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Another Jan 6 rioter blames Trump for urging him to Capitol

A bench trial now underway has seen the lawyer of an admitted Capitol riot attendee explicitly point to Donald Trump as a source of false conspiracy theories that led his client to join the attack on Congress on 6 January 2021.

Most rioters whose cases have reached court have so far pleaded guilty or struck plea deals, with only a small proportion of the hundreds arrested and/or charged going to trial.

Many have sought lighter sentences by claiming deep remorse for their actions, and more than a few have said that the false messages emanating from the Trump White House meant they thought they were genuinely being called to action by the president himself.

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Time set for Mar-a-Lago affidavit release hearing

With the Department of Justice declining to release the affidavit that underpinned last week’s Mar-a-Lago search, cautioning that it could compromise sensitive ongoing investigations and “chill” efforts to secure the cooperation of witnesses, a Florida court will this Thursday hold a hearing on whether or not to unseal the document.

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FBI returning Trump’s passports

The FBI has returned three passports belonging to former President Donald Trump following its search Mar-a-Lago, his Southern Florida residence and private club.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) told NBC News on Monday that the passports had been returned.

The FBI confirmed that they were in possession of the passports after Mr Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social to claim that they had been stolen.

“Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else,” Mr Trump wrote. “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”

Gustaf Kilander reports:

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DoJ offers up unflattering details of Navarro arrest

Federal prosecutors acting for the Department of Justice have given more details about the arrest of former Trump aide Peter Navarro, charged with contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the 6 January select committee. The filing contradicts Mr Navarro’s account of the event and describes outlandish, combative behaviour on the part of the notorious 2020 election denier.

According to the filing, while Mr Navarro claims he was unfairly barred from self-reporting to authorities instead of being arrested, law enforcement does not normally offer that option to “combative” defendants who do not yet have legal representatives.

“And only a few days before,” the document says, “when the case agents attempted to interview him and serve him with a subpoena at his residence, the Defendant at first refused to open the door and then, when he did, told the agents to “get the f*** out of here.”

Read more:

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