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Trump news – live: Trump calls nuclear documents report ‘hoax’ and implies FBI planted papers at Mar-a-Lago

Rolling coverage of the latest developments following the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago

Trump lawyer does not ‘believe’ that secret nuclear documents found at Mar-a-Lago

Donald Trump has rubbished reports that the FBI agents who raided his Mar-a-Lago residence were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons.

Posting on Truth Social, he called the story a “hoax” and compared it to previous investigations into his connections with Russian agents – as well as suggesting without basis that the FBI planted evidence during the search.

Mr Trump has also said he won’t oppose a move by the Justice Department to make public the search warrant that authorised the raid.

“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents,” he wrote.

“Release the documents now!”

The Department of Justice yesterday filed a motion to unseal the warrant, with attorney general Merrick Garland stressing that the decision was not taken lightly – and confirming that he personally authorised the decision to seek the warrant in the first place.

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Christopher Wray’s statement on FBI attacks

In light of yesterday’s attempted attack on an FBI office in Cincinnati Ohio, as well as the abuse and unsubstantiated allegations emanating from Republican Trump allies and right-wing media over the last week, bureau chief Christopher Wray put out the following statement on the danger posed by the relentless invective directed against his organisation and its staff:

Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others. Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans. Every day I see the men and women of the FBI doing their jobs professionally and with rigor, objectivity, and a fierce commitment to our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. I am proud to serve alongside them.

Richard Hall has this profile of Mr Wray – whom it’s worth remembering was appointed by Donald Trump.

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Kinzinger on nuclear documents report

Adam Kinzinger, arch-Trump critic and member of the 6 January select committee, has picked up on the reports that the documents the FBI sought at Mar-a-Lago may have been related to nuclear weapons – and called out his pro-Trump colleagues in response:

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House Republicans cancel press conference on FBI raid

CBS News’s Scott MacFarlane reports that a Republican press conference scheduled for this morning that would have seen members of Congress discuss the Mar-a-Lago raid has been cancelled – though another is apparently going ahead soon.

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Trump calls nuclear weapons claim a “hoax” in garbled “truth"

In a new “truth” lashing out at the media and his opponents, Donald Trump has blasted out a chaotic rant against reports that among the documents the FBI sought at Mar-a-Lago were classified materials pertaining to nuclear weapons.

As per his general line on the myriad legal investigations into his conduct, Mr Trump compares the nuclear story unflatteringly to the “Russia, Russia Russia Hoax” – littering his sentences with misspellings and grammatical stumbles.

He also continues to smear the FBI for not letting his lawyers observe the search, which is in fact standard practice meant to prevent interested parties from interfering with a search.

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Is Trump being investigated under the Espionage Act?

As details of the Mar-a-Lago raid slowly become clearer, analysts are discussing the possibility that the Justice Department’s investigation is actually focused on an alleged breach of the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law most known for dealing with the theft of information that could harm national security.

While the law typically is thought to involve acts of spying against the United States, it also contains one provision that could very well deal with the situation that has arisen at Mr Trump’s resort home: the handling of classified documents related to US defence policy or capabilities, and the punishments for negligent management of such files.

The Act specifically states that anyone who “through gross negligence permits [such documents] to be removed from [their] proper place of custody” can face a fine or imprisonment of up to ten years.

And that’s where the boxes at Mar-a-Lago come in.

Read more from John Bowden:

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Garland personally approved search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he personally approved the decision to seek a warrant so that the FBI could search former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Mr Garland made clear that the Department of Justice does not make decisions like this lightly.

“Where possible it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” he said.

Eric Garcia reports:

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Reports say FBI sought ‘classified nuclear documents’ at Mar-a-Lago

FBI agents were looking for “classified nuclear documents” during their dramatic search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The news comes via a report in The Washington Post, and adds a new layer of seriousness to the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago less than a week ago.

Up until now, Republicans had an avenue to argue that this was a politicised move meant to embarrass an ex-president over an issue that would normally be low in priority. But many Republicans on Capitol Hill, even allies of the former president, will be hard-pressed to give a good explanation for why documents about the nuclear capabilities of the US or another country could be stored at Mar-a-Lago under any acceptable circumstances.

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Mary Trump says her uncle has underestimated “ninja” Merrick Garland

Psychologist Mary Trump, who has for several years tried to explain her uncle’s supposed “pathology” and his habit of fixating on myriad enemies and grievances, appeared on MSNBC last night to discuss the ex-president’s reaction to the raid – and she had an interesting theory to float: that Mr Trump’s idiosyncratic ideas about strength and weakness leave him incapable of grasping that Merrick Garland may pose him a serious threat.

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Trump backs warrant release on Truth Social

The debate over why Donald Trump has not released the Mar-a-Lago search warrant may soon be at an end, with the ex-president saying last night he will is in fact “ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents”, which he insists were drawn up by political opponents.

It is likely that if released, the warrant will be at least lightly redacted. Interest is increasingly turning to the affadavit underpinning the “probable cause” element of the warrant, but is hard to see that being released in the near future because of the sensitivity of the documents at issue.

Mr Trump did not stop at one message calling for the warrant to be unleashed, but “truthed” twice more about the supposedly unjustified raid and the need to have it explained in public – again not acknowledging that he himself could release the warrant if he liked.

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Fox News host shows photoshopped image of Mar-a-Lago judge with Ghislaine Maxwell

Filling in last night on Tucker Carlson’s show, Fox News host Brian Kilmeade included a segment on Bruce Reinhart, the judge who apparoved the FBI’s search warrant for the Mar-a-Lago raid – and at one point, things went badly off the rails.

As he delivered a monologue to camera, Mr Kilmeade’s production team screened a picture purporting to show Mr Reinhart receiving a foot massage from convicted sexual abuser and trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. The problem? Mr Reinhart had been (badly) photoshopped in to replace Jeffrey Epstein. The URL of a meme-making site was even visible.

After the image appeared on screen, Mr Kilmeade began stumbling over his words.

Mr Reinhart has received a deluge of violent and anti-semitic death threats since he was identified as the signer of the warrant. So serious are the threats that his details have been removed from the website of the court where he serves.

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