Trump affidavit reveals new details about FBI search of Mar-a-Lago estate

The heavily redacted affidavit released on Friday offers the most detailed description to date of the government records stored at Mar-a-Lago. ITV News' Robert Moore reports.

A redacted version of the affidavit the FBI submitted to search former US president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate has been made public.

The document showed that 14 of the 15 boxes recovered by the intelligence service contained documents with classification markings, explaining the justification for the search of the property earlier this month.

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart had ordered the department to publish a redacted version of the affidavit by Friday.

The directive came hours after federal law enforcement officials submitted, under seal, the portions of the affidavit which they want to keep secret as their investigation progresses.

Even in its redacted form the 32-page affidavit - or sworn statement in US law - contained additional details about the ongoing investigation, which has brought fresh legal peril for Mr Trump.

The court papers also underscore the volume of sensitive government documents located at the former president's Florida estate, and reveals FBI concerns that the records were being retained illegally.

Though the document offers a substantial description of the investigation, federal officials redacted significant portions of it to protect the identity of witnesses and to avoid revealing sensitive investigative tactics.

Originally, the FBI submitted the affidavit to a judge so it could obtain a warrant to search Mr Trump's property.

Affidavits typically contain vital information about an investigation, with agents spelling out the justification for why they want to search a particular property and why they believe they’re likely to find evidence of a potential crime there.

But they routinely remain sealed in pending investigations, making the judge’s decision to reveal portions of it all the more striking.

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The redactions, proposed by the Justice Department, are extensive given the sensitivity of the investigation.

They also lessen the likelihood that the document will offer a comprehensive look at the basis for the search or significant insights about the direction of the probe.

But even a redacted affidavit can contain at least some fresh revelations about the investigation, and is likely to help explain why federal agents ultimately felt compelled to obtain a search warrant.

Documents previously made public show the FBI retrieved 11 sets of classified documents from the property, including information marked at the top secret level.

They show that federal agents are investigating potential violations of three federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act.

The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

It's possible that the affidavit, particularly in its unredacted form, could shed light on key unanswered questions, such as why sensitive presidential documents - classified documents, among them - were transported to Mar-a-Lago after Mr Trump left the White House.

Details could help to answer why Mr Trump and his representatives did not supply the entire tranche of material to the National Archives and Records Administration, despite repeated entreaties.

And the affidavit could offer additional details on the back-and-forth between Mr Trump and the FBI, including a request for documents that was issued last spring, as well as a June visit by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the materials were being stored.

The Justice Department had earlier contested arguments by media organisations to make the affidavit public, saying any disclosure could contain private information about witnesses and about investigative tactics.

But Mr Reinhart, acknowledging the extraordinary public interest in the investigation, said last week that he was disinclined to keep the entire document sealed, and told federal officials to submit to him in private the redactions it wanted to make.