NEW: Unsealed Docs in Trump Mar-a-Lago Case Further Reveal Just How Ludicrous the Raid Was

AP Photo/Terry Renna

Like many, I was appalled when the FBI raided former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in August of 2022. While it was difficult in the fog of the ordeal to get a solid fix on what exactly the feds were after, the notion that the raid and subsequent prosecution were highly political in nature was inescapable — particularly when President Joe Biden's own classified document imbroglio came to light...and then was allowed to shuffle off into oblivion due to Biden's being deemed a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

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With the multiple criminal cases pending against Trump — and particularly with the ongoing soap opera trial over falsified business records in Manhattan — it's been a mite challenging to keep up with all of the developments. Recently, Judge Aileen Cannon postponed the trial in the case involving the classified documents, in light of the Department of Justice's mishandling of the evidence. 


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However, the parties have continued to file pleadings and argue motions before Cannon, leading to some interesting revelations after certain pleadings were unsealed: 

Around the same time that mishandling came to light, it was revealed that Smith's top prosecutor, Jay Bratt, met with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain back in September 2021, almost a year before any classified documents were discovered at Mar-a-Lago. That revelation came about compliments of a newly unsealed motion. 

Now, Cannon has issued an order further clarifying certain pleadings to be filed and redactions she's granting (and denying) in them as to both parties. The full order may be viewed below, but one key takeaway from Cannon's ruling is that she's concerned about the Special Counsel's representations in relation to the redactions for which they were advocating.

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On Tuesday came the highly disturbing revelation that the Law Enforcement Operations Order accompanying the warrant included a "Policy Statement Use of Deadly Force" provision. Despite the fact that such provision itself is not unique to the Mar-a-Lago raid, the fact that it was part and parcel of the raid on the former president's home was understandably met with outrage, and further underscored the absurdity of the action authorized by Attorney General Merrick Garland and DOJ leadership. (Here's where I'll simply note for clarity that pointing out that the language/provision is standard in no way, shape, or form means the raid was standard or "no big deal" — if anything, it's a further argument for why the raid should never have taken place, to begin with.)

But wait — there's more. FBI documents included in the unsealed filings also revealed that shortly before the raid was authorized and executed, Trump was cooperating with the FBI:

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As the above tweets indicate, FBI notes regarding a June 3, 2022, meeting at Mar-a-Lago lay out their discussions with Trump's representatives and Trump himself. (This particular section can be found on pages 36-38 of this pdf.) To further highlight: 

Former President Donald J. TRUMP entered the MAL dining room and greeted the Agents and Attorney. TRUMP advised there was very good security at MAL. TRUMP stated he wanted to be open and transparent and that he was "an open book," and there for whatever the FBI needed. TRUMP thanked the DOJ and FBI for their good work prior to departing the dining room.

...

Counter to advisement from [redacted] TRUMP gave his authorization to allow the FBI to view the basement storage space in MAL. The FBI Agents and DOJ Attorney were escorted by [redacted] and USSS Agents, to include [redacted] and others unidentified, to a storage room located in the basement of MAL. The group was led out of the MAL dining room through the living room, outside to the pool area, and through a door to the right, into a part of the building referred to as the "Cloisters."

...

[Redacted] was unaware of records at any other properties, but advised he would be willing to inquire specifically about the Bedminster location.

In their Motion for Relief Relating to MAL Raid and Unlawful Piercing of Attorney-Client Privilege (which may be viewed in its entirety below), Trump's legal team lays out the DOJ's absolute overkill in obtaining the warrant and executing this raid. As noted in the motion (emphasis added): 

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In August 2022, the FBI did not believe that it was necessary to raid Mar-a-Lago. See Ex. 1 at USA-00940268. In an August 1 internal FBI email, Special Agent [redacted] wrote that “DOJ/FBI would respectfully request Former President Trump’s cooperation via Mr. [redacted]” via a “Consensual Search.” Id. According to Steven D’Antuono, who was the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office at the time, the FBI’s preference in “dealing with cases like this” was to seek consent from [redacted]. D’Antuono Interview at 23. D’Antuono “firmly believed” that “the best scenario would have been consent,” for “the FBI, for former President Trump, and for the country.” Id. D’Antuono took that position in “emails” that were “written back and forth” but have not been produced. Id.; see also id. at 24 (D’Antuono confirming that he “put in a communication that [he] had some concerns about not doing the normal protocol of . . . attorneys working together”). 

DOJ and the FBI appear to have debated this issue during, for example, an August 1, 2022, meeting at “FBIHQ” regarding “Search Warrant Discussion.” Compel Mot. Ex. 34. On August 3, Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Toscas and Jay Bratt participated in a follow-up call with agents from the FBI’s Washington Field Office regarding the warrant. See Compel Mot. Ex. 35 at USA-00940276. According to an email regarding the call, Toscas stated “that ‘he frankly doesn’t give a damn about the optics’” of the unprecedented raid, and the group discussed how “Bratt already has built an antagonistic relationship with FPOTUS’s attorney . . . .” Id. Ultimately, Attorney General Garland “personally” approved the raid.

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If I didn't know better, I'd say that, contrary to their assertion, some involved in this decision cared very much about the optics...with an eye toward November 2024. 


Trump Motion for Relief by Susie Moore on Scribd




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