The F.B.I. searched Mr. Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into materials that were alleged to have been unlawfully taken by the former president, including classified documents, when he left office in January 2021.
The search warrant, which was unsealed and made public in response to a motion by the Justice Department, listed three criminal laws as the basis of the investigation, including a possible violation of the Espionage Act. The World War I-era law criminalizes the unauthorized retention or disclosure of information related to national defense that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.
The affidavit used to justify the search had not been made public. The Justice Department has objected to such a move, saying its release would “compromise future investigative steps” and “likely chill” cooperation with witnesses.
In January, Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of material to the National Archives. When archivists examined the material, they found many pages of documents with classified markings and referred the matter to the Justice Department, which began an investigation.
In the spring, the Justice Department issued a subpoena to Mr. Trump seeking additional documents that the agency believed may have been in his possession. A small group of federal agents also made a visit to Mar-a-Lago to seek out more information about classified documents that might have been stored there.
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