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DOJ investigates potential violation of at least 3 separate criminal statutes

Posted at 12:37 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 21:33:52-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Search documents were released by the court on Friday after the FBI executed an unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Monday.

The FBI was searching for evidence that sources told ABC News is tied to his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

It's believed to be the first search by the federal agency of the residence of a current or former U.S. president. Trump and other Republicans have sharply criticized the raid as a partisan attack and have demanded an explanation. Trump denies wrongdoing.

Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, appointed by former President George W. Bush says the warrant gave the FBI permission to take documents out of Mar-a-Lago. Agents ultimately grabbed 11-sets of classified documents, including some that were labeled secret and top secret.

The filing, which includes two attachments ("Attachment A" and "Attachment B") indicates that the Justice Department, in its search of the Mar-a-Lago estate, is investigating potential violation of at least three separate criminal statutes, including a statute under the Espionage Act.

“They had probable cause to believe that there might have been an alteration or destruction of that evidence,” Charlton told ABC15.

Donald Trump
File - Former President Donald Trump, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Attachment B states that the property to be seized by agents includes "all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime or other items illegally possessed" in violation of 18 USC 793, a statute under the Espionage Act involving the gathering, transmitting or loss of defense information; 18 USC 2071, which involves any federal government employee who, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys public records; and 18 USC 1519, obstruction of justice.

Police direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump said in a lengthy statement that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The receipt identifies one set referring to "various classified/TS/SCI documents," four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of documents described as confidential. It appears that there were 21 boxes taken.

Other items included in the receipt include one labeled "Info re: President of France," an executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone, binders of photos, a "potential presidential record" and a leather-bound box of documents.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said, "The Biden administration is in obvious damage control after their botched raid where they seized the President’s picture books, a ‘hand written note,’ and declassified documents. This raid of President Trump’s home was not just unprecedented, but unnecessary—and now they are leaking lies and innuendos to try to explain away the weaponization of government against their dominant political opponent."

Charlton says it’s tricky to say what will happen next for many reasons, one of them being whether or not a successor administration would prosecute its predecessor.

As for the affidavit, the former U.S. Attorney says that has important details many would like to know, but if released to the public it could compromise the investigation.

ABC News’ John Santucci, Alex Mallin and Katherine Faulders contributed to this story.