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FBI raided Trump's Florida residence to look for nuclear documents: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in New York City a day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago home. (Photo by Reuters)

Among other things, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents sought classified documents pertaining to nuclear weapons during a raid of former US President Donald Trump's Florida residence Monday, according to a report.

A report in Washington Post, citing informed sources and experts, said the search underscores the concern among government officials about the types of information located at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach club where Trump lives, and the danger of it falling into wrong hands.

The report quotes experts as saying that material about nuclear weapons is "especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials", adding that publicizing details about them could "provide an intelligence roadmap to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems."

"If that is true, it would suggest that material residing unlawfully at Mar-a-Lago may have been classified at the highest classification level," David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department's counterintelligence section, which investigates leaks of classified information, is quoted as saying in the report.

"So if the FBI and the Department of Justice believed there were top secret materials still at Mar-a-Lago, that would lend itself to greater 'hair-on-fire' motivation to recover that material as quickly as possible," Laufman said.

American judicial officials have said that more details of this investigation will be made available to the public in the coming days.

Some lawyers, while publishing a motion seeking to unseal the search warrant in this case, said the public’s "clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing.”

Media reports suggest the FBI’s action is part of a US Justice Department investigation into Trump's removal of official records to his Florida estate while leaving the White House following the end of his presidential term early last year.

In January, as the National Archives and Records Administration (Nara) prepared to transfer records from the White House to the House select committee probing the deadly January 6. riot, it reportedly found around 15 boxes taken to Mar-a-Lago.

The records were later returned to Nara following negotiations with Trump’s lawyers, but it was then discovered that Trump had taken some documents marked as classified and sensitive for national security with him.

Trump on Monday confirmed that the FBI agents “raided” his Mar-a-Lago residence in what he called an act of “prosecutorial misconduct.”

The former US president said the FBI agents “broke into his safe” at the Palm Beach residence while he was away at Trump Tower in New York.

The unprecedented search of Trump's home on Monday by FBI agents has angered many Republicans and Trump supporters. Many on social networks have threatened the FBI to answer for this unprecedented investigation.

US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republican lawmakers condemned the raid, warning that they will probe the politicization of the Justice Department when they take back control of Congress.

“The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” McCarthy said on Monday night.

“When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned. Attorney General [Merrick] Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar,” he added.

In his statement on Thursday, attorney general Merrick Garland defended FBI agents as "dedicated, patriotic public servants" and said he would not "stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked."

"Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism, and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them," he said in a rare statement.

Garland said the Justice Department had filed a request in court that the search warrant and property receipt from the search be unsealed. He also admitted that he had "personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter."

"The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter," Garland said. 

"Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing."

Late on Thursday, Trump called for the “immediate” release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his Florida estate.

“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents...I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents," he wrote on the Truth Social platform, assailing the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as “unAmerican, unwarranted and unnecessary.”

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