WASHINGTON — The property receipt of items recovered by FBI agents who searched former President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago resort shows that agents recovered a trove of top secret and other heavily classified documents, according to court documents unsealed Friday by a federal judge in Florida.
Federal agents removed 11 sets of classified documents, including some that were labeled secret and top secret, according to documents obtained by NBC News shortly before the judge unsealed them. Among the items the FBI took was a handwritten note, information about the “President of France,” an executive grant of clemency for Trump ally Roger Stone and binders of photos.
There were also papers described as “SCI” documents, which stands for highly classified “sensitive compartmented information.”
One document attached to the search warrant said the agents were searching for “All physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime and other items illegally possessed in violation of” three laws, including a part of the Espionage Act that the Justice Department describes on its website as a “key national defense and national security” provision. The section cited in the search warrant “applies to activities such as gathering, transmitting to an unauthorized person, or losing, information pertaining to the national defense, and to conspiracies to commit such offenses.”
The other two laws referenced by the document attached to the search warrant pertain to the improper removal of records and concealing or destroying records to impede investigations.
The court documents unsealed on Friday said investigators were searching for evidence of those crimes including “any physical documents with classification markings” and “any government and/or Presidential Records” from Trump’s time in office, in addition to any evidence of the “knowing alteration, destruction or concealment of any government and/or Presidential records, or of any documents with any classification markings.”
While Trump and his allies have suggested that any documents in his possession had been declassified by him while he was in office, the three laws cited in the search warrant do not specify that the mishandled documents had to have been classified.
NBC News and other news organizations obtained the documents shortly before the judge authorized their public release. The Justice Department filed a notice Friday saying Trump did not oppose the unsealing.
Trump and his lawyers have had the search warrant and documents since Monday, but initially resisted calls to make them public. In a statement overnight on his social media platform, Trump said he did not oppose DOJ’s motion to disclose the documents to the public.
“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, much as they have done for the last 6 years,” Trump said. “Release the documents now!”
Those remarks came just hours after Attorney General Merrick Garland publicly announced that the Justice Department had filed a motion Thursday to get a judge’s approval to release the warrant and property receipt, arguing that it was in the public’s interest to see the records after Trump revealed the search had taken place on Monday.
In a statement Friday, Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich was dismissive of details in the documents, calling it an “outrageous” search and a “botched raid where they seized the President’s picture books, a ‘hand written note,’ and declassified documents.”
In a separate statement, Trump said everything he had “was all declassified.”
Trump received a federal grand jury subpoena this past spring for sensitive documents the government believed he retained after his departure from the White House, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News on Thursday.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the subpoena was related to documents that Trump’s legal team discussed with Justice Department officials at a previously reported meeting on June 3.
A separate source confirmed an earlier Wall Street Journal report, telling NBC News that “someone familiar” with documents inside Mar-a-Lago told investigators there may have been more classified documents at the club than were initially turned over, leading in part to the search on Monday.
Daniel Barnes contributed.