Four Key Takeaways From Unsealed Donald Trump Affidavit

A heavily redacted affidavit related to the August 8 FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was released on Friday, shedding some light on the investigation into the handling of White House documents.

Federal magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the affidavit to be released after he accepted significant redactions from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in order to protect witnesses and the integrity of the probe.

The 38-page document provided some new information about the investigation into potential violations of the Presidential Records Act and Trump's handling of classified material.

Here are four key takeaways from the affidavit.

1. 'Evidence of Obstruction'

The affidavit was provided to Judge Reinhart in order to support the application for a search warrant and argue that there was probable cause for a search. One aspect of that probable cause was that "evidence of obstruction" could be found at Mar-a-Lago, according to the affidavit.

"There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises," the document said.

Obstruction in this case could be a separate crime with potential legal implications if charges are brought following the search.

2. More than 100 Classified Documents Found in May

The affidavit said that the FBI had found more than 100 classified documents in boxes that were taken from Mar-a-Lago by the National Archives earlier this year.

The FBI reviewed those documents in May and found 184 unique documents bearing classification markings. Of those, 67 were marked as confidential, 92 as secret and 25 were marked top secret.

Agents found classified material in 14 of the 15 boxes in question. Some of the documents contained national defense information (NDI), according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said that some of the material was marked "HCS" - referring to clandestine human sources or intelligence personnel. Other documents were marked "SI", meaning information garnered from monitoring foreign communication channels.

3. Redactions to Protect 'Civilian Witnesses'

A court filing from the DOJ was also released on Friday that explained why redactions had been made to the affidavit. Some of those redactions were to protect witnesses.

The DOJ's filing said that "the materials the government marked for redaction in the attached document must remain sealed to protect the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses, in addition to law enforcement personnel."

Donald Trump Speaks in Las Vegas
Former President Donald Trump speaks after a panel on policing and security at Treasure Island hotel and casino on July 8, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A redacted affidavit released on Friday said that Trump's Mar-a-Lago home was not a secure location for classified documents. Bridget Bennett/Getty Images

U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez wrote that if the identity of witnesses were made known they "could be subjected to harms including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety."

Judge Reinhart had acknowledged on Thursday the need to protect witnesses' identities through redactions.

Those redactions may add to speculation that there is a "mole" operating at Mar-a-Lago who has provided information to the government, but this has not been proven.

4. Mar-a-Lago Not a 'Secure Location'

The affidavit contains part of a letter from the DOJ's counsel to Trump's counsel on June 8 that said "Mar-a-Lago does not include a secure location authorized for the storage of classified information."

The letter went on to ask that "the room at Mar-a-Lago where the documents had been stored be secured and that all of the boxes that were moved from the White House to Mar-a-Lago (along with any other items in that room) be preserved in that room in their current condition until further notice."

Trump has said that a lock was added at the DOJ's request to the area where the documents were stored and that FBI agents broke that lock during the August 8 search.

The affidavit appears to say that the area was not secure even with that lock.

The FBI agent who wrote the filing noted that "based upon this investigation, I do not believe that any spaces within the PREMISES have been authorized for the storage of classified information at least since the end of FPOTUS's Presidential Administration on January 20, 2021."