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FBI Visited Mar-a-Lago 2 Months Before Raid, Said ‘Now It All Makes Sense’ After Looking in Storeroom: Lawsuit

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


FBI agents visited former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate a few months before the Aug. 8 raid of his Florida residence to retrieve documents with classification markings.

Trump’s team filed a motion in response to the raid and argued the materials seized were covered by executive privilege and called for a “special master” to be appointed to look at the seized documents.

According to the motion, after retrieving said documents on June 3, one FBI agent present made an odd exclamation to Trump’s team: “Now it all makes sense,” the agent said, according to the legal motion.

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Trump’s motion detailed the events leading up to the FBI raid dating back to Jan. 20, 2021, the day Trump and his family moved out of the White House and back to their home at Mar-a-Lago.

The motion argues that once Trump moved back to Florida, employees at the National Archives inquired with concerns that the former president may have inadvertently transferred classified documents with him.

In January, Trump says his team reached out to the National Archives and asked the agency to pick up 15 boxes of documents.

The 45th president states in the motion that months later, he determined a search of his estate may be necessary to find additional documents and chose to invite DOJ Security Division Chief Jay Bratt into his home to retrieve the documents.

Bratt and three FBI agents came to Mar-a-Lago.

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“Whatever you need, just let us know,” Trump told the agents prior to the search, the motion said.

After Trump handed over some documents Bratt had requested, the DOJ official asked for and was given permission to search a storage room.

It was then that one of the FBI agents made an odd statement.

“Thank you. You did not need to show us the storage room, but we appreciate it. Now it all makes sense,” the agent said.

Bratt later asked Trump to secure the storage room, which he did by adding additional locks and security measures.

Two months later, on Aug. 8, FBI agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago to conduct their unannounced raid.

On Monday, Trump asked a federal court for an independent third-party review of documents taken from his Palm Beach residence by the FBI earlier this month.

“The request for a so-called special master to review the documents could be filed as soon as Monday in Florida, the person said, requesting anonymity because the matter isn’t public. Trump also plans to ask for a court order requiring the Department of Justice to provide more details about the property that was seized and to return materials that weren’t covered by the warrant, the person said,” Bloomberg News reported.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, U.S. Magistrate Bruce Reinhart, the judge who approved the FBI’s search warrant, rejected an argument from the Department of Justice and admitted the FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was “unprecedented.”

In a Monday morning filing, Reinhart rejected the Justice Department’s argument to keep the affidavit “sealed,” citing the “intense public and historical interest.”

Reinhart wrote that he rejects “the Government’s argument that the present record justifies keeping the entire Affidavit under seal.”

“The Government argues that even requiring it to redact portions of the Affidavit that could not reveal agent identities or investigative sources and methods imposes an undue burden on its resources and sets a precedent that could be disruptive and burdensome in future cases,” Reinhart wrote. “I do not need to reach the question of whether, in some other case, these concerns could justify denying public access; they very well might.”

He added: “Particularly given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”

Reinhart said he has given the Justice Department an “opportunity to propose redactions if I declined to seal the entire Affidavit,” something he granted last week, giving the government a deadline of Thursday, Aug. 25 at noon.

“Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that by the deadline, the Government shall file under seal a submission addressing possible redactions and providing any additional evidence or legal argument that the Government believes relevant to the pending Motions to Unseal,” the motion states.

During the highly anticipated hearing in the West Palm Beach Division of Florida last Thursday, Reinhart said he will unseal some of the procedural filings currently under seal on the search warrant docket.





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