Trump News Updates: Dershowitz Says Indictment Possible but Unlikely

Live Updates
  • The Department of Justice has released a heavily redacted affidavit used to justify the search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, on August 8.
  • The decision to unseal the affidavit, made on Thursday by Judge Bruce Reinhart, came hours after the DOJ submitted its proposal for redactions in an effort to shield witnesses from intimidation or retribution.
  • Ahead of the decision, Trump and many of his allies called for the full version of the affidavit to be released.
  • On Monday, the former president filed a lawsuit against the DOJ asking for a special master be appointed to review seized materials.
  • Sources told Newsweek that the raid was based on a tip that authorities received from an informer who knew the type of documents Trump kept.

Live updates have ended.

Dershowitz Says Indictment Possible but Unlikely

Alan Dershowitz told Newsweek on Friday that the affidavit unsealed in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) investigation into former President Donald Trump's handling of presidential documents demonstrates a potential for an indictment but that one is not likely to be handed down.

The affidavit, which was heavily redacted upon its release, outlined why the FBI sought permission to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month. While several major media outlets argued in favor of releasing the affidavit in full, the DOJ argued that its release could reveal information about confidential witnesses and thus impact the department's ongoing investigation.

Dershowitz, who was on Trump's legal team during the former president's first impeachment trial in 2020, said it "sounds like there would be enough for an indictment" but added indictments are "easy to get."

The information contained within the redacted affidavit, which was made accessible to members of the public starting Friday afternoon, could provide the DOJ with enough cause for an indictment, Dershowitz said. Even so, he pointed to the rarity of a former president's private home being searched by federal agents as one reason investigators might hesitate to take that step.

Any charges contained within an indictment of a former president would thus need to be "airtight and serious," Dershowitz said.

Arizona Judge Rejects Ballot Hand-Count Request

An Arizona judge on Friday rejected calls from Republican candidates asking that election officials be required to count ballots by hand during the midterm elections this fall.

The request stems from a lawsuit GOP candidates Kari Lake, who is running for governor, and Mark Finchem, who is running to be Arizona's new secretary of state, filed in June.

Their lawsuit raised concerns about the state's vote tabulating machines, which Lake and Finchem said have been "used to manipulate the vote," according to local media outlets. In the interest of "total transparency to the public," they asked for all ballots to be counted by hand.

John Tuchi, the U.S. district judge overseeing the request, said Lake and Finchem did not have the standing required to file their suit in federal court because they didn't demonstrate enough of a potential for probable harm, according to The Associated Press.

Tuchi also said Lake and Finchem wanted "a complete overhaul of Arizona's election procedures" with less than three weeks remaining until the midterms, the AP reported.

Biden Defers to DOJ, Says 'We'll See What Happens'

President Joe Biden appeared to dismiss the argument that former President Donald Trump had the authority to declassify any document he wanted while in office.

Reporters asked Biden about the argument Trump and his legal team have put forward while at the White House on Friday.

"Come on," Biden said of the idea that Trump could declassify "everything."

Biden then declined to comment on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) ongoing investigation into Trump's handling of presidential records, which developed most recently on Friday afternoon as the department released a redacted version of the affidavit used to justify the FBI's search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

"I'm not going to comment, because I don't know the details. I don't even want to know," Biden said before deferring to the DOJ.

Biden was also asked about the investigation during an event at the White House Friday morning marking Women's Equality Day.

When asked by one reporter if he was "concerned" about potential threats to national security in connection with documents kept at Mar-a-Lago, Biden again deferred to the DOJ.

"We'll let the Justice Department determine that," Biden said. "We'll see what happens."

Biden Leads Trump by 1 Point in 2024 Matchup Poll

President Joe Biden is one point ahead of former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical 2024 matchup among voters, according to new polling results.

Emerson College Polling shared its latest findings on Friday as the U.S. Department of Justice released a redacted affidavit that was used in support of the FBI's request to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

An Emerson College poll conducted on August 23 and 24 showed Biden with 43 percent of voter support in a potential election where the two face off. Trump was just 1 point behind Biden with 42 percent of voter support. In this poll, 6 percent remained undecided and 8 percent planned to vote for another candidate.

An Emerson College poll conducted in late June found Trump ahead of Biden by five points, with Trump receiving 44 percent of voter support at that time and Biden receiving 39 percent.

In the wake of the FBI's search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home earlier this week, pollsters asked participants if the investigation made them more or less likely to back Trump.

"Thirty-six percent of voters say it makes them less likely to support Trump in 2024, 30% say it makes them more likely to support the former President, and 34% say it makes no difference on their vote," the poll said, with Emerson College Polling's executive director pointing to "significant regional differences" across the country.

Though Trump has not officially announced a run for office in 2024, he has often hinted at his interest in doing so since leaving the White House last year. Several polls over the last 18 months have found Trump ahead of his likely Republican competitors if he chooses to seek his party's nomination during the next presidential election cycle.

Deadline Nearing in Trump's Special Master Request

Former President Donald Trump's legal team is facing a fast-approaching deadline related to their request for a "special master" to oversee the document review process linked to items the FBI seized at Mar-a-Lago.

After the request was made earlier this week, a judge in Florida instructed Trump's attorneys to further explain the reasons for their request by the end of the day on Friday.

Trump's team first made its request on Monday as part of a lawsuit filed in response to the FBI's August 8 search of his Mar-a-Lago home. If a special master is appointed, that person will be responsible for making sure investigators don't have full access to any privileged information.

During its search, the FBI said it took several confidential and secret documents from Trump's time in the White House. In the initial argument Trump's attorneys made in favor of appointing a special master, they suggested the nature of the documents FBI agents took from Mar-a-Lago meant some could include privileged information.

House Judiciary GOP Drops Rick Astley Joke of Affidavit Release

Ahead of the Department of Justice releasing the redacted affidavit used to justify the search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home earlier this month, the House Judiciary GOP tweeted out a fake document of an "early copy."

"#BREAKING: Read an early copy of the Trump raid affidavit," the House Judiciary GOP tweeted moments after the noon deadline Friday.

The tweet shows a document heavily blacked out with the chorus of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" remaining.

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you," the document pieces together. "Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you."

Donald Jr., Eric Trump Respond to Affidavit Release

Former President Donald Trump's sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, criticized a lack of 'transparency' following the release of the redacted affidavit Friday.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a few of the pages which had been completely redacted.

"Well this really clears things up," he joked, showing blacked-out text on three pages.

Eric Trump tweeted a similar post of the redacted pages saying, "What a joke... 'Transparency.'"

The former president also posted "WITCH HUNT!!!" on his Truth Social account Friday afternoon after the affidavit's release.

Affidavit Addresses Trump's Declassification Argument

The redacted affidavit unsealed on Friday addresses arguments former President Donald Trump's legal team has made regarding classified materials that were stored at his Mar-a-Lago home after his term at the White House ended last year.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) told the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this year that several documents marked as classified were included in 15 boxes of materials Trump's office sent the agency in January.

Trump and his attorneys have said Trump had the "absolute authority to declassify documents," an argument made in a letter sent on behalf of Trump that was addressed to federal officials in May. The affidavit included a copy of that letter, which was released in full on Friday.

The affidavit also mentions a Breitbart article published in early May in which former Trump administration official Kash Patel "characterized as 'misleading' reports in other news organizations that NARA had found classified materials among records" Trump's office sent NARA.

In the article, Patel "alleged that such reports were misleading" because Trump "had declassified the materials at issue," the affidavit said.

Possible 'Evidence of Obstruction' at Mar-a-Lago, Affidavit Says

The FBI determined that classified information was being stored in "unauthorized spaces" at former President Donald Trump's Florida home, according to the redacted affidavit released Friday afternoon.

In the 32-page affidavit, the FBI also writes there is "probable cause" that "evidence of obstruction" may be found at Mar-a-Lago.

"Further, there is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI [National Defense Information] or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES [Mar-a-Lago]," the affidavit reads. "There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES."

Trump Official Calls Affidavit 'Overtly Political'

A spokesperson for former President Donald Trump commented on the release of the affidavit used in applying for the warrant that allowed the FBI to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month.

Taylor Budowich, the director of communications for Trump's office and the former president's Save America PAC, called the affidavit "overtly political" in a statement posted after the document was unsealed Friday afternoon.

"The release of a heavily redacted, overtly political affidavit only proves that the Biden administration is desperate to cover up their unprecedented, unnecessary, and un-American raid against President Donald J. Trump," Budowich said.

A second tweet from Budowich said the situation was "a grave travesty" and said the visible sections of the document "only further supports President Trump's position, there was NO reason for a raid - it is all politics!"

The affidavit, several parts of which were redacted upon request from the Department of Justice, shared details on what led federal authorities to begin its investigation into the handling of presidential documents earlier this year.

Boxes Sent to National Archives Had 184 Classified Documents

The 15 boxes former President Donald Trump's office sent the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in January contained several documents, including 184 that had "classified markings," according to the affidavit unsealed on Friday.

NARA received the boxes on January 18 and contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ) a few weeks later to alert federal officials that some "highly classified documents" were included with other materials. FBI agents then reviewed the 15 boxes from May 16 to 18, according to the affidavit, and found several documents marked as classified within 14 of the boxes.

The FBI shared approximations for how many documents were "confidential," "secret" and "top secret." About 184 classified documents were reviewed in all, including 67 "confidential" documents, 92 identified as "secret" and 25 that were "top secret."

The FBI special agent who argued within the affidavit in favor of searching Mar-a-Lago, an official whose name was redacted, cited their "training and experience" in saying they "know that documents classified at these levels typically contain NDI," or national defense information.

The affidavit said the boxes also seemed to contain "several" of Trump's "handwritten notes."

Trump Slams Judge for Allowing Mar-a-Lago Raid

Former President Donald Trump slammed Judge Bruce Reinhart for allowing the raid at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, earlier this month.

Trump released a statement on Truth Social about one hour after the redacted affidavit was released.

"Affidavit heavily redacted!!!" Trump wrote Friday afternoon. "Nothing mentioned on "nuclear," a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI & DOJ, or our close working relationship regarding document turnover - WE GAVE THEM MUCH."

"Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the break-in of my home," Trump said. "He recused himself two months ago from one of my cases based on his animosity and hatred of your favorite President, me. What changed? Why hasn't he recused himself on this case? Obama must be very proud of him right now!"

Affidavit Explains Why Investigation Began

The redacted affidavit unsealed on Friday explained what started the federal investigation that ultimately led FBI agents to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on August 8.

The affidavit, which was dated as being received by federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on August 5, started by saying the federal government "is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records."

The investigation started after the National Archives and Records Administration (FBI) alerted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in February that it received "highly classified documents" as part of a set of 15 boxes of materials Trump's office sent NARA in January.

The affidavit said the FBI then opened its investigation following "an initial review of the NARA referral" so it could "determine how the documents with classification markings and records were removed from the White House" or other approved storage spots and wound up at Mar-a-Lago.

The investigation was also looking into "whether any additional classified documents or records may have been stored in an unauthorized location" and if they were still there, as well as "identify any person(s) who may have removed or retained classified information without authorization and/or in an unauthorized space," the affidavit said.

Heavily Redacted Affidavit Released

The redacted affidavit used to justify the search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home Mar-a-Lago earlier this month has been released.

The document is heavily redacted, with several pages of text blacked out.

"The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of govermnent records," the affidavit begins.

The redacted affidavit was released shortly after 12 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.

Judge Signs Order to Unseal Redacted Affidavit

Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart has officially ordered the release of the affidavit used in the FBI's August 8 search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

The version of the document that will be released is expected to be heavily redacted.

Reinhart, the magistrate judge who signed off on the FBI's initial search warrant earlier this month, signed the order allowing the affidavit to be unsealed on Friday.

The redacted document is expected to be released to the public shortly.

Mark Meadows Called to Testify in GA Election Probe

The Fulton County district attorney has called upon additional allies of former President Donald Trump to testify in Georgia's election interference probe.

Thursday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed petitions to hear testimony from Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows and lawyer Sidney Powell, the Associated Press reports.

The petitions ask both to testify before a special grand jury in Atlanta next month.

The district attorney said Meadows and Powell have "unique knowledge" of their communications with the former pesident, his campaign and others regarding attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia.

"Involved in the multi-state, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 elections in Georgia and elsewhere," Willis wrote, according to the AP.

Several others were recently subpoenaed to testify, including Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. Giuliani testified before the special grand jury earlier this month. Graham continues to fight his subpoena in court.

Mark Meadows
Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Oct. 21, 2020, in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Redacted Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Expected Soon

The affidavit used to explain why federal authorities requested permission to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home is expected to be released within the hour.

The document will likely have several redactions, a result of the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) earlier opposition to having it released to the public. Major media outlets had argued in favor of having the affidavit unsealed.

Bruce Reinhart is the federal magistrate judge who initially signed off on the FBI's August 8 search and who has presided over decisions regarding whether to unseal search-related documents. The search warrant and the property receipt listing items FBI agents took from Mar-a-Lago were both released earlier this month.

In its argument against releasing the affidavit, the DOJ said making its contents public was "highly likely to compromise future investigative steps" due to the possibility of revealing information about witnesses. The DOJ is expected to have redacted some witness-related information to prevent their identities from being recognized and enable cooperation to continue as the investigation proceeds, according to the Associated Press.

The information that is visible could provide insight into how federal agents arrived at their decision to take the historic step of searching a former president's private residence.

Reinhart has instructed the DOJ to release its redacted version of the affidavit by 12 p.m. ET today.

Meta Removes Accounts Linked to Proud Boys

Meta has removed hundreds of accounts, pages and groups linked to the Proud Boys from Facebook and Instagram, a spokesperson for the tech company said Thursday.

The right-wing extremist group was banned from using either platform in 2018, but Meta has continued to find its presence online in the years since.

Monika Bickert, the vice president of content policy at Meta, addressed the latest actions the company has taken to enforce its community standards during a quarterly press call on Thursday. Bickert told reporters that as part of its "continuous enforcement against Proud Boys," the company recently found and took down "a network of about 480 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, and groups."

So far this year, Meta said it has removed about 750 "assets from the Proud Boys."

"This last strategic disruption is just part of our overall effort this year," Bickert said.

Biden Had 'Not One Single Bit' of Notice of Mar-a-Lago Raid

President Joe Biden said he didn't have "any advance notice" of the FBI's raid at former President Donald Trump's Florida home.

Biden was asked the question after announcing his student loan forgiveness plan Wednesday.

"I didn't have any advance notice," Biden answered. "None, zero, not one single bit."

The White House has previously denied having prior knowledge of plans to raid Mar-a-Lago. Agents removed several boxes of documents from Trump's home on August 8.

Donald Trump Jr. Compares Dr. Oz to his Father

Donald Trump Jr. has issued a fundraising appeal for Republican U.S. Senate candidate and celebrity surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz as the public awaits the release of the affidavit involved in authorizing the search at Mar-a-Lago.

Oz sent an email to supporters on Friday morning attributed to Trump Jr., the former president's eldest son.

"The kind of authenticity and drive Dr. Oz embodies is RARE in today's political arena. Trust me," Trump Jr. said in the email. "My father gets it – he and Dr. Oz both came into politics because they genuinely want the best for America."

"Dr. Oz is running one of the most energized campaigns of this cycle. Because he doesn't just have something to prove - he has people to SAVE. AMERICA TO SAVE," Trump Jr. said.

Oz is running to fill the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania and was endorsed by former President Trump, but he is in a tough fight with the Democratic candidate, Lt. Governor John Fetterman.

Donald Trump Jr. at Turning Point USA
Donald Trump Jr.speaks during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit held at the Tampa Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

The email shows the Trump family's continuing involvement in frontline political campaigning despite ongoing legal issues including the impending release of the affidavit later today.

Trump Accuses 'Political Hacks and Thugs' of Violating Records Act

Former President Trump lashed out at the FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago residence on his Truth Social platform early on Friday ahead of the release of a redacted affidavit used to seek the search warrant.

"The political Hacks and Thugs had no right under the Presidential Records Act to storm Mar-a-Lago and steal everything in sight, including Passports and privileged documents," Trump wrote.

"They even broke into my safe with a safecracker - Can you believe? This Act was created for a very good reason, and it works. We are right now living in a Lawless Country, that just so happens to be, also, a Failing Nation!"

The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago as part of an investigation into the handling of potentially classified White House documents which may have violated the act Trump mentioned, as well as other U.S. statutes including the Espionage Act.

Biden Slams MAGA Republicans at Maryland Rally

President Joe Biden took aim at what he described as MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans during a fiery speech at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) rally in Maryland on Thursday.

"Trump with the extreme MAGA Republicans have made their choice to go backwards, full of anger, violence, hate and division. But we've chosen a different path," the president said in a wide-ranging speech that represent a return to the campaign trail ahead of the midterm elections.

Biden's comments came a day before the expected release of an affidavit used to support a search warrant for former President Trump's Florida residence.

The redacted affidavit and ongoing FBI investigation could impact Trump's political future, though he is still considered Biden's most likely Republican opponent in 2024.

A Timeline of Events Surrounding the Mar-a-Lago Raid

Here is a brief timeline of the major events leading up to today's release of the redacted affidavit.

August 8: FBI agents searched former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence as part of an investigation into the handling of potentially classified White House documents.

August 11: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland gave a press conference saying he personally authorized the seeking of a warrant to search Mar-a-Lago.

August 12: The warrant authorizing the search of Mar-a-Lago was released to the public with some minor redactions. An unredacted version was leaked to some conservative news outlets before the DOJ's version.

August 22: Trump filed a lawsuit against DOJ, asking a court to appoint a special master to handle the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago and seeking to stop the DOJ reviewing the documents until a special master was appointed.

August 25: Judge Bruce Reinhart ordered the release of the affidavit the DOJ provided to support the search warrant. However, he accepted redactions made by the government.

August 26: The redacted affidavit is due to be released no later than 12 p.m. ET.

NYT Editorial Calls for Prosecuting Trump Over 'Assault' on Democracy

The New York Times published an editorial on Friday arguing that former President Trump should be prosecuted as a "first step" toward ending a "crisis" in U.S. democracy.

The newspaper accused Trump of committing an "unprecedented assault" on the nation's democracy.

"Even justice before the law will not erase that stain. Nor will prosecuting Mr. Trump fix the structural problems that led to the greatest crisis in American democracy since the Civil War. But it is a necessary first step toward doing so," the Times' editorial board wrote.

The editorial went on: "Mr. Trump's actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government."

FBI Raid Has Boosted Trump Support in GOP: Poll

More Republicans now prefer former President Trump for the party's 2024 presidential nomination following the raid of his Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8, a new poll shows.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted from August 18 to 22 among 1,563 U.S. adults found that 54 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now prefer Trump for the nomination, compared to 34 percent who chose "someone else."

Before the raid at Mar-a-Lago, the same poll had found that those numbers stood at 47 percent for Trump and 38 percent for someone else.

The poll also showed that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis remains Trump's strongest competition for the GOP nomination. In a match-up, Trump enjoyed 49 percent support to DeSantis' 31 percent.

Trump, DeSantis at Florida Rally
Former U.S. President Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY

Before the search at Mar-a-Lago, however, Trump had 44 percent against DeSantis' 34 percent.

Affidavit Could Be 50 to 100 Pages: CNN Analyst

CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig has said the affidavit due to be released today could be 50 to 100 pages long as he speculated on some of the information it might contain.

Honig, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN's New Day that "the affidavit is a written narrative. If I had to guess, I'd peg at maybe 50 to 100 pages where DOJ lays out the probable cause for the judge."

He also said that the affidavit could contain detailed descriptions of the potential statutes involved in the investigation and what violations the DOJ is specifically investigating.

"There are different crimes for concealing, for destroying, for hiding, for transmitting. We could learn more about that," Honig said.

Who Is Judge Bruce Reinhart?

Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart has order the release of the affidavit involved in the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence.

Reinhart is a magistrate judge and was not appointed by any president.

Magistrate judges are appointed by district judges to deal with matters including bond hearings and signing off on search warrants.

He authorized the initial search warrant that allowed the FBI to search Trump's Florida home and became the subject of criticism from conservatives as a result.

Reinhart is a former federal prosecutor who later acted as defense counsel for some employees of the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

What Is Redacting a Document and Why Is the DOJ Doing It?

The affidavit due to be released no later than noon on Friday will be redacted after federal magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart accepted arguments made by the Department of Justice.

That means parts of the document will be blacked out so that they cannot be read.

The DOJ may wish to black out certain information, including the names of potential witnesses and law enforcement agents contained in the affidavit, that would otherwise make it more difficult for the department to pursue the ongoing investigation into former President Donald Trump's handling of White House documents.

Judge Reinhart wrote in his two-page order on Friday that the government had met its burden of proof for redactions and noted the redacted information could also include the scope and strategy of the investigation and grand jury information protected by federal rules of criminal procedure.