The Memo: Trump’s narrative takes big hit with affidavit’s release

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One of former President Trump’s key claims about the FBI’s search for Mar-a-Lago is undermined by the release of a key affidavit on Friday.

Trump has put forth the story that he and his attorneys cooperated with the Justice Department’s (DOJ) investigations into documents from his time in the White House. This, he claims, means the August 8 raid on his Florida estate was futile.

But the affidavit that persuaded a judge to grant the search warrant tells a different story.

Even in heavily redacted form, the affidavit points out that in 2021 there was a lengthy trial that lasted about seven months before Trump’s team even coughed up any documents.

It gives a much less friendly account than Team Trump has of the events of June this year.

For example, the former president and his allies described an affable visit to Mar-a-Lago by a senior DOJ official, Jay Bratt, and three FBI agents on June 3. the FBI agents, who had shown the storage room where some documents were kept, reportedly said, “Now it all makes sense.”

The same Trump request references a June 8 letter in which the DOJ “requested to secure the storage area to the extent relevant” — a request that would have been complied with when Trump told staff to put a second lock on the door.

In contrast, the DOJ’s affidavit cites a letter dated the same date — presumably the same letter — reiterating to a Trump attorney that there is no “secure location authorized anywhere in the resort for the storage of classified information.”

The letter makes it clear that the DOJ’s request was not a general security check, but a requirement to “maintain” the storage facility in its “current state until further notice” — a wording much more reminiscent of a potential site investigation. then a friendly conversation about padlocks.

The filing also includes, as evidence, a May 2022 letter from Trump attorney Evan Corcoran to Bratt, the head of the counterintelligence division of the DOJ’s national security division.

In the letter, Corcoran states that presidents have “absolute authority to release documents” and that in any case, no president can be prosecuted for “actions involving classified documents.”

Those claims are controversial, and yet again strike a different tone than the one Trump and his allies have been trying to portray.

Put it all together and the effect on Trump’s favorite story of the investigation seems stark.

“It blows it to smithereens,” Harry Litman told this column.

Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, focused on the various delays on Trump’s side as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and then the DOJ searched for missing documents.

The affidavit requesting the search warrant, Litman said, “is at the end of an irritating, very lengthy intercourse by them that would never be tolerated by another citizen.”

The argument that Trump may have simply released all relevant documents also produced the sharpest comment yet from President Biden, who had previously tried to distance himself from the investigation.

“I have released everything in the world. I’m president, I can do it all!” Biden sarcastically told reporters at the White House on Friday shortly after the affidavit went public. “Come on!”

Meanwhile, a footnote in the affidavit made it clear that the classification status of the documents in question would not affect at least one of the possible crimes under investigation.

Trump’s characteristic is that he goes full out with his accusations that he was mistreated for political reasons during the raid.

He argued in a Truth Social post Friday that the judge in the case, Bruce Reinhart, “should NEVER have allowed the break-in to my house.”

He further claimed that Reinhart harbored “hostility and hatred” towards him.

But even while using his usual belligerent rhetoric, Trump still insisted that his side “had had a close working relationship with document conversion”.

It’s impossible to reconcile that claim with the FBI’s affidavit that investigators had “probable reasons to believe evidence of obstruction will be found” during a Mar-a-Lago search.

However, the agency’s reasons for this claim remain mysterious, given the extensive redactions of the 32-page affidavit.

In a related document also released on Friday, the DOJ claimed the editing was necessary because of the need to “protect the safety of multiple civilian witnesses” in the burgeoning case.

The ministry further argued that “the government has reasonable concerns that steps may be taken to frustrate or otherwise disrupt this investigation if the facts in the affidavit are disclosed prematurely.”

Still, information that was revealed brought a new level of granular detail into the public domain.

Notably, it revealed that of the 15 boxes retrieved from Mar-a-Lago about a year after Trump’s departure, 14 contained information with classified markings.

In total, according to the affidavit, there were 184 such documents, of which 67 were marked confidential, 92 classified and 25 top secret.

Those details alone alarm experts in the field.

“While we don’t know what that information pertains to, it could by definition threaten the lives of individuals,” said Mark Zaid, a lawyer who specializes in national security issues.

Zaid stressed that it is not yet clear that Trump himself is the target of the criminal investigation, only that investigators believe evidence of a crime can be found in Mar-a-Lago.

Still, he warned, “Based on the affidavit, I believe the danger facing one or more people continues to increase.”

“I don’t know who the one or more people are,” he added. “It could be Mar-a-Lago staff, it could be the president, it could be his lawyers.”

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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