WASHINGTON (AP) — A newly released FBI document helps flesh out the contours of an investigation into classified material at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate. But plenty of questions remain, especially because half the affidavit, which spelled out the FBI’s rationale for searching the property, was blacked out.
That document, which the FBI submitted so it could get a warrant to search Trump’s winter home, provides new details about the volume and top secret nature of what was retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January. It shows how Justice Department officials had raised concerns months before the search that closely held government secrets were being illegally stored — and then returned in August with a court-approved warrant and located even more classified records at the property.
It all raises questions whether a crime was committed and, if so, by whom. Answers may not come quickly.
A department official this month described the investigation as in its early stages, suggesting more work is ahead as investigators review the documents they removed and continue interviewing witnesses. Intelligence officials will simultaneously conduct an assessment of any risk to national security potentially created by the documents being disclosed.
At a minimum, the investigation presents a political distraction for Trump as he lays the groundwork for a potential presidential run.
Then there’s the obvious legal peril.
A look at what’s next:
WHAT IS THE FBI INVESTIGATING?
None of the government’s legal filings released so far singles out Trump — or anyone else — as a potential target of the investigation. But the warrant and accompanying affidavit make clear the investigation is active and criminal in nature.
The department is investigating potential violations of multiple laws, including an Espionage Act statute that governs gathering, transmitting or losing national defense information. The other laws deal with the mutilation and removal of records as well as the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.
The inquiry began quietly with a referral from the National Archives and Records Administration, which retrieved 15 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago in January — 14 of which were fou...