An FBI search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Palm Beach home, which was released Friday along with a general list of seized classified documents, may not reveal a "smoking gun" - but the dry details suggest that he is being investigated for possible espionage breaches, destruction of records and obstruction of justice.
The search warrant, which was carried out Monday at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, shows that the Justice Department is zeroing in on "illegally possessed" presidential records and classified materials to build a criminal case against him.
The warrant focuses on "national defense information or classified material" that Trump took from the White House to his home, which could be a violation of the Espionage Act. Although the list of documents gathered at his residence is short on details, the Washington Post reported that classified materials related to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in their search.
Second, the warrant allowed agents to gather any federal documents that Trump removed from the White House and damaged while they were stored at his residence.
Third, it allowed them to collect evidence of any presidential records or other government documents that Trump might have destroyed at his Palm Beach home - the basis for an obstruction of justice charge.
An FBI affidavit explaining why federal authorities had sufficient evidence of a "probable" crime to conduct a search of Trump's residence was not included as part of the warrant made public Friday by a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach. Since leaving the White House last year, the former president has been battling with the National Archives and Records Administration and Justice Department over his removal of classified materials and other government documents to his South Florida residence.
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According to sources familiar with the investigation, FBI agents with security clearances worked in "taint" teams as they examined the documents stored in his office and other areas of Mar-a-Lago to ensure that they did not collect any "privileged" correspondence between Trump and his lawyers. If they were to cross that line, they could risk spoiling some of the evidence in the Justice Department's investigation.
More than 20 boxes of evidence carted away from the former president's home will now be evaluated by the FBI and prosecutors at the Justice Department, who are leading the case with assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami.