FBI sought nuclear documents during search of Trump's home: Report

The US federal agency retrieved about 10 boxes from his property during the investigation

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

By Reuters

Published: Fri 12 Aug 2022, 6:55 AM

US federal agents were looking for documents related to nuclear weapons when they raided former president Donald Trump's home in Florida this week, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

It was not clear if these documents were recovered at the former president's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, the Post said. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

The US Justice Department asked a judge on Thursday to make public the warrant that authorised the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, after Trump, a Republican, portrayed it as political retribution.

This request means the public could soon learn more about what investigators were looking for during the unprecedented search of the former president's home.

The move was part of an investigation into whether Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he left office in January 2021, some of which the Justice Department believes were classified.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, the country's top law enforcement officer and an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, told a news conference that he had personally approved the search. The Justice Department also seeks to make public a redacted receipt of the items seized.

"The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken," Garland said.

His decision to publicly confirm the search was highly unusual. US law enforcement officials typically do not discuss ongoing investigations, in order to protect people's rights. In this case, Trump himself announced the search, in a statement on Monday night.

Garland said that the Justice Department had requested that the warrant be made public, "in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter".

A source familiar with the matter said that the FBI retrieved about 10 boxes from Trump's property during the search.

Trump was not in Florida at the time of the search.

Will Trump's lawyers object?

It was unclear whether Trump's legal team would object to the release of the warrant.

The government has until 3pm (ET) on Friday, to let the court know whether Trump's attorneys will object to unsealing the warrant. The case is before US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who reviewed the warrant to ensure that the Justice Department had sufficient probable cause for the search.


While seeking to unseal the warrant, the Justice Department has not asked the judge to unseal the sworn statement in support of the warrant, the contents of which could potentially include classified information.

Two of Trump's attorneys, Evan Corcoran and John Rowley, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement on his Truth social network, Trump said:

"My attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully, and very good relationships had been established. The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it."

Escalating probe

The unprecedented search marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state probes that Trump is facing, from his time in office and in private business, including a separate probe by the Justice Department into a failed bid by Trump's allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election by submitting phony slates of electors.

The investigation into Trump's removal of records started earlier this year, after the National Archives made a referral to the department.

Former archivist David Ferriero has previously said that Trump returned 15 boxes to the government in January 2022. The archives later showed that some of the items were "marked as classified national security information".

A couple of months prior to the search, FBI agents visited Trump's property to investigate boxes in a locked storage room, according to a person familiar with the visit.

The agents and Corcoran spent a day reviewing materials, the source said. A second source who had been briefed on the matter told Reuters that the Justice Department also had surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago in its possession.

Garland's Justice Department has faced fierce criticism and online threats since Monday's search. Trump supporters, as well as some of his fellow Republicans in Washington, accuse Democrats of weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to target Trump.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday, an armed man suspected of trying to breach the FBI building died later, following an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers, an Ohio State Highway Patrol official said.

Garland condemned the threats and attacks against the FBI and Justice Department.

"I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked," he said.

Even some Democrats have criticised Garland for being overly cautious in investigating Trump over his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden.

More news from Americas