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Trump complains Mar-a-Lago raid was among ‘most egregious assaults on democracy’ in US history

Former president, whose baseless narrative fuelled violent attempt to overturn election, condemns federal law enforcement probe of classified documents in his possession

Alex Woodward
New York
Saturday 27 August 2022 21:57 BST
Biden says he had no advance warning of FBI's Mar-a-Lago raid
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Following the release of a revealing affidavit suggesting Donald Trump obstructed justice and hoarded sensitive White House documents leading to a federal law enforcement raid at his Mar-a-Lago home, the former president claimed the search was among “the most egregious assaults on democracy” in the history of the US.

“Which, by the way, going to places, in a very bad way, it has never seen before!” he wrote on his Truth Social account on 27 August.

In a separate post, he wrote: “INVASION OF PRIVACY!!!”

An affidavit for probable cause to search the former president’s property revealed that federal officials recovered 184 classified documents that were returned to the National Archives earlier this year, when officials alerted the US Department of Justice after discovering documents were marked “top secret” and classified.

Justice Department officials pursued an investigation believing the documents could compromise “clandestine human sources” or overseas intelligence-gathering if made public. A 38-page affidavit determined “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found” at his Florida compound.

Officials also said that without significant redactions, “the affidavit could be used to identify many, if not all, of these witnesses”.

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

The former president – whose baseless and ongoing narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen fuelled violence at the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results – has fumed on his social media platform in the days following the raid and subsequent public scrutiny, while US intelligence officials and lawmakers have announced their own assessments into national security risks connected to Mr Trump’s handling of documents.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump’s Truth Social website – launched as a Twitter clone six months ago after his ban from the platform – faces a troubling future without a guaranteed revenue source, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission from the company planning to take Trump Media & Technology Group public.

The company warned that its business could be damaged if the former president “becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility.”

A letter from the National Archives to attorneys for Mr Trump in May reported that the former president kept more than 700 pages of classified documents. The Justice Department has reportedly recovered more than 300 classified documents since Mr Trump since left the White House in January.

Investigators visited Mar-a-Lago in June and the FBI interviewed staff and others later that month.

On 5 August, a federal judge approved a search warrant from the Justice Department, which had “probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified [national defense informatio] or that are presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the premises.”

A search was performed on 8 August.

According to the affidavit for probable cause for the search, a “preliminary review” of the 15 boxes collected earlier this year revealed that 184 documents contained classified markings, “including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET.”

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