WASHINGTON (WTVO) — The FBI found 11 sets of classified documents, including some labeled as top secret, during a raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida this week.

The search warrant shows Trump is under investigation for potential violations of the Espionage Act, removal or destruction of records, and obstruction of justice.

The Espionage Act was first enacted by Congress in 1917, during World War I, and prohibits persons from obtaining “any information related to the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information may be used for the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

The law states: “Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”


Property receipts of the items recovered showed among the items were documents labeled “secret” or “top secret,” a handwritten note containing information about the “President of France,” and an executive grant of clemency for Trump friend Roger Stone, binders of photos, a “potential presidential record” and a leather-bound box of documents.

Photo: ABC News

A judge is expected to authorize public release of the documents this afternoon. Trump said in a statement last night that he did not oppose their disclosure.

Trump himself announced news of the raid on his Florida estate on Monday, saying agents had opened a safe at the home.

“My attorneys and representatives were cooperating fully, and very good relationships had been established. The government could have had whatever they wanted, if we had it,” he wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social.

The raid was the result of a months-long investigation into whether Trump had removed classified documents from the White House.

“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump wrote. “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.

Trump said in February that if the records were at his home, it was due to a mix-up as his staff hastily moved him out of the White House. He also said he was cooperating to return the documents.

The current dispute apparently has its genesis in efforts by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to retrieve material that it believed Trump had wrongly taken with him at the end of his presidency.  

Earlier this year, NARA said that it had found classified information among 15 boxes of material that it eventually got from Mar-a-Lago, and alerted the DOJ. 

One key element that remains unanswered is the nature and sensitivity of the material that was seized on Monday. 

According to reports, the FBI gained information from an informant within Trump’s inner circle who told them where the documents were being kept.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, who authorized the raid, filed a motion Thursday to make the subject of the search warrant public following an outcry among Republicans and Trump allies, accusing the agency of working on behalf of Democratic power brokers to contaminate a possible 2024 White House bid by the former president.

To obtain a search warrant, federal authorities must prove to a judge that probable cause exists to believe that a crime was committed. Garland said he personally approved the warrant, a decision he said the department did not take lightly given that standard practice where possible is to select less intrusive tactics than a search of one’s home.

In this case, according to a person familiar with the matter, there was substantial engagement with Trump and his representatives prior to the search warrant, including a subpoena for records and a visit to Mar-a-Lago a couple of months ago by FBI and Justice Department officials to assess how the documents were stored. The person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The attorney general also condemned verbal attacks on FBI and Justice Department personnel over the search. Some Republican allies of Trump have called for the FBI to be defunded. Large numbers of Trump supporters have called for the warrant to be released hoping they it will show that Trump was unfairly targeted.

“I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked,” Garland said of federal law enforcement agents, calling them “dedicated, patriotic public servants.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.