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US Federal Judge Unseals Parts of FBI Affidavit  


A page from the FBI affidavit laying out the basis for a search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, is photographed, Sept. 13, 2022.

Newly released information from the unsealed portions of the legal documents the FBI submitted justifying its reasons to secure a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate shows the Justice Department on June 24 subpoenaed the Trump Organization, demanding video from surveillance cameras located near the estate’s storage room where dozens of boxes filled with classified material were located.

A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday unsealed previously redacted portions of the documents the FBI submitted for the search warrant as part of its investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left the White House in January 2021.

The affidavit says the Trump Organization handed over a hard drive with the surveillance footage on July 6 in response to the subpoena.

The FBI subpoenaed the company for the footage weeks after agents saw about 50 boxes of records in the storage room, according to the affidavit.

The subpoena came weeks before agents executed a search warrant for Trump’s property on August 8, seizing more than 11,000 documents and 1,800 other items, including more than 100 classified documents.

A heavily redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant was released last month, but the Justice Department said it decided to unseal additional portions of the document after Trump lawyers revealed the existence of the grand jury subpoena for the footage.

The FBI is investigating several possible crimes in connection with Trump’s retention of presidential records, including a potential violation of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice.

The FBI investigation suffered a setback last week after a federal judge ordered the appointment of a special master and temporarily barred agents from using the records, including classified documents.

The Justice Department has said it would appeal the ruling by Judge Aileen Cannon unless she allows agents to regain access to the classified documents and bars the special master from viewing them. The department has given Cannon until Thursday to issue a “partial stay” of her order.

The Justice Department and the Trump legal team have each proposed two candidates to serve as special master.

In a court filing on Monday, the Justice Department indicated it would accept one of the two candidates proposed by Trump lawyers: Raymond Dearie, a federal judge on “senior active” status.

Dearie and the department’s own candidates — retired federal judges Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith — have “substantial judicial experience, during which they have presided over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privilege concerns,” the filing said.

The Justice Department opposed the Trump team’s other candidate, Paul Huck Jr., former deputy attorney general for the state of Florida, saying he “does not appear to have similar experience.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested the National Archives to conduct a review of all presidential records from the Trump administration to determine whether any records “may still be outside the agency’s custody and control.”

In a letter requesting the review, Maloney said staffers from the Archives recently told the committee the agency is not certain it has all the records from the Trump White House.

Maloney asked the Archives, the agency that collects and preserves all official government documents, for an initial assessment of its findings by September 27.

The investigation of the missing documents is taking place as the Justice Department appears to be widening its probe of efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The New York Times reported Monday that the Justice Department issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week to various people connected to the Trump administration and his re-election campaign, from low-level aides to senior advisers to the former president.

VOA Justice correspondent Masood Farivar contributed to this article. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.