Live Updates

Judge unseals Trump Mar-a-Lago search warrant

Honig breaks down what's in Trump search warrant
01:24

What you need to know

  • Unsealed warrant: A judge unsealed the Mar-a-Lago search warrant documents, which show the Justice Department recovered 11 sets of classified documents — including some marked with the highest levels of classification — from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home during a FBI search earlier this week.
  • The investigation: The search warrant identifies three possible federal crimes as the reasoning behind the search: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records. Read the full warrant here.
  • How we got here: Trump’s legal team agreed to release the historic search warrant earlier Friday, the Justice Department told a federal court. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department filed a request to unseal the search warrant and property receipt from the search.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about today’s developments in the posts below.

33 Posts

Key things we learned from the unsealed Trump Mar-a-Lago search warrant

An aerial view of Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday.

A federal judge on Friday unsealed the search warrant and property receipt from the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The search, documents show, was an evidence-gathering step in a national security investigation about the mishandling of classified documents. Trump owns the sprawling estate, and it is his primary residence as well as a members-only club and resort.

The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from its search, including some materials marked as “top secret/SCI” — one of the highest levels of classification, according to documents from the search warrant that were released Friday.

Here are some key things we learned from the unsealed documents:

Crimes identified in the warrant: The search warrant identifies three federal crimes that the Justice Department is looking at as part of its investigation:

  • violations of the Espionage Act
  • obstruction of justice
  • criminal handling of government records

The inclusion of the crimes indicates the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate those offenses as it was gathering evidence in the search, but no one has been charged.

What the FBI recovered: One of the newly unsealed documents is a search warrant “receipt” listing the items that the FBI collected from Mar-a-Lago. That document reveals FBI agents removed more than 20 boxes from Trump’s resort and residence in Palm Beach, as well as binders of photos, sets of classified government materials and at least one handwritten note.

According to the search warrant receipt, federal agents seized:

  • 1 set of “top secret/SCI” documents
  • 4 sets of “top secret” documents
  • 3 sets of “secret” documents
  • 3 sets of “confidential” documents.

The warrant receipt didn’t detail what such classified documents were about, but these were among the items that were taken:

  • A document about pardoning Roger Stone, a staunch Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Stone-related material taken from Mar-a-Lago was listed in the warrant receipt as “Executive Grant of Clemency re: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.”
  • Material about the “President of France.”

Areas authorized for search: The court documents also offer new details about the search itself and revealed that FBI agents were only allowed access to specific locations within Mar-a-Lago as they combed Trump’s resort residence for potential evidence of crimes.

The judge authorized the FBI to search what the bureau called the “45 Office,” as well as “all other rooms or areas” at Mar-a-Lago that were available to Trump and his staff for storing boxes and documents. The FBI’s warrant application to the judge specifically said that federal agents would avoid areas being rented or used by third parties, “such as Mar-a-Lago members” and “private guest suites.”

Read more about what is in the search warrant here.

These are the 3 levels of classification the government uses to protect information

The US government has a formal system of protecting information that, if disclosed, could hurt national security.

The system can apply to documents regarding intelligence activities, foreign relations, military plans and programs for safeguarding nuclear materials, for example. By classifying information, the government restricts who can see the documents and where he or she can see them.

The Justice Department recently removed some classified documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence while executing a search warrant for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other crimes.

There are three basic levels of classification, based on the damage that could be done to national security if the information was leaked:

Top Secret: This is the highest level of classification. Information is classified as Top Secret if it “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security,” according to a 2009 executive order that describes the classification system.

A subset of Top Secret documents known as SCI, or sensitive compartmented information, is reserved for certain information derived from intelligence sources. Access to an SCI document can be even further restricted to a smaller group of people with specific security clearances.

Some of the materials recovered from Trump’s Florida home were marked as Top Secret SCI.

Secret: Information is classified as Secret if the information is deemed to be able to cause “serious damage” to national security if revealed.

Confidential: Confidential is the least sensitive level of classification, applied to information that is reasonably expected to cause “damage” to national security if disclosed.

Learn more about the classification system here.

French embassy declined to comment on removal of information related to Macron from Mar-a-Lago

The French embassy in Washington declined to respond Friday to news the FBI removed information pertaining to French President Emmanuel Macron during a search of Mar-a-Lago earlier this week. 

A spokesperson said they had no comment. 

An unsealed search warrant listed “Info. re French President” among the items removed from Trump’s estate in Florida on Monday. 

FBI investigating "unprecedented" number of threats against bureau in wake of Mar-a-Lago search

The FBI is investigating an “unprecedented” number of threats against bureau personnel and property in the wake of the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, including against agents listed in court records as being involved in the search, a law enforcement source tells CNN. 

Just today, the names of the two agents who signed the search warrant paperwork were circulating on line. The names were included in a version of the search warrant that was leaked prior to the official unsealing of the documents. The version released by the court redacted the agents’ names. 

 In a memo sent to FBI employees this week, Director Chris Wray said the bureau is “vigilant” and will adjust security as needed.

“Let me also assure you that your safety and security are my primary concern right now. Security Division is working across the agency as we continue to stay vigilant and adjust our security posture accordingly,” Wray said in the statement reviewed by CNN.

The FBI declined to comment on any specific threats against bureau employees, but told CNN in a statement: 

“The FBI is always concerned about violence and threats of violence to law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI. We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous. As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”

Federal agency responds to Trump official's claim about how boxes were moved to Mar-a-Lago

Kash Patel speaks during a campaign event for Republican election candidates in Tucson, Arizona, on July 31.

Kash Patel, who has been designated by former President Trump to handle issues with his presidential records, blamed the General Services Administration (GSA) for boxes being at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where the FBI recovered classified material during a search on Monday.

“The GSA mistakenly packed some boxes and moved them to Mar-a-Lago. That’s not on the President. That’s on the National Archives to sort that out,” Patel said on Fox. 

A GSA spokesperson responded Friday to Patel’s claims, saying that the responsibility for what is moved when a president leaves office “rests entirely with the outgoing president and their supporting staff.”

“As part of the services and support GSA provides to all outgoing presidents, GSA typically contracts for the transportation of items identified by the outgoing President as necessary to wind down the affairs of their office,” the statement said. “The responsibility for making decisions about what materials are moved rests entirely with the outgoing president and their supporting staff.”

Patel, a former national security official in the Trump administration, said that at the end of Trump’s presidency in December 2020 and January 2021, Trump declassified sets of documents. He wouldn’t say whether the boxes recovered at Mar-a-Lago were part of that declassification. 

In regard to whether some of the material in those boxes is classified, Patel said, “It doesn’t seem to be the case when Donald Trump issued sweeping declassification orders on multiple occasions.” 

When asked about the declassification process, Patel said that while there is a “normal” process for government employees, the president has “unilateral classification authority to classify or declassify. If he says something is declassified, that’s it, then it’s declassified.”

There are federal regulations that lay out a process for a president to declassify documents.

Some documents taken from Mar-a-Lago were marked as "top secret/SCI." Here's what that means.

Former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 9.

Joshua Skule, a former FBI executive assistant director of intelligence, told CNN there is a hierarchy of security levels when it comes to how documents are classified by the government, with one of the highest classification being “top secret/SCI.” SCI stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information.

The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from its search of Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, including some materials marked with that “top secret/SCI” distinction, according to documents from the search warrant that were released Friday.

Skule said top secret/SCI is one of the nation’s most highly sensitive material.

“These could be code-worded documents as well which provides an additional level of protection and frankly, some of those programs are very selective in the number of people that can be read on to them,” he told CNN’s Victor Blackwell.

Other classification levels include “secret” — meaning the information may cause “serious damage to national security” — and “confidential,” both which gauge national security concern, retired Lt. General Mark Hertling told CNN, adding classifications are defined by legal definitions.

He said “top secret/SCI” is restricted to not only people who have top secret clearance, but also a “need-to-know of certain details.”

“I personally could have a top secret clearance, could go in and read any top secret document, but as soon as one of them says SCI, that means there’s something special about that,” Herling said, adding access to that information would only be given to people who need to know the “methods and people involved.”

Federal agents seized just one set of “top secret/SCI” documents, according to the search warrant receipt. Agents took four sets of “top secret” documents, three sets of “secret” documents, and three sets of “confidential” documents. 

The warrant receipt didn’t detail what these classified documents were about.

CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Katelyn Polantz contributed reporting to this post.

Search warrant reveals new details about scope of FBI investigation

While details about the search warrant documents themselves remain scarce, the laws cited in the warrant offer new insight into what the FBI was looking for when it searched former President Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week, an unprecedented step that has prompted a firestorm of criticism from his closest allies.

The laws cover “destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations” and the unlawful removal of government records, according to the search warrant released Friday.

Also among the laws listed is one known as the Espionage Act, which relates to the “retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material.”

All three criminal laws cited in the warrant are from Title 18 of the United States Code. None of them solely hinge on whether information was deemed to be unclassified.

One of the less-sensitive items taken from Trump’s resort, according to a property receipt, was a document about pardoning Roger Stone, a staunch Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Trump pardoned Stone before leaving office, shielding Stone from a three-year prison term.)

It’s unclear how the Stone-related document seized during the search is tied to the broader criminal probe into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified materials.

During the search, FBI agents also recovered material about the “President of France,” according to the warrant receipt.

Read more about the unsealed documents here.

Here's a timeline of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant's execution and release

Local police presence stay outside Mar-a-Lago, the residence of former President Donald Trump, on August 9.

The search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, documents show, was an evidence-gathering step in a national security investigation about the mishandling of classified documents. Trump owns the sprawling estate, and it is his primary residence as well as a members-only club and resort.

Here’s a timeline of the search warrant’s execution and release:

  • Friday, Aug. 5: Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart signs the search warrant at 12:12 p.m., according to the warrant.
  • Monday, Aug. 8: FBI agents execute the search warrant.
  • Thursday, Aug. 11: Attorney General Merrick Garland announces that the Justice Department will ask a judge to unseal some of the search warrant documents, for the sake of transparency. Trump says in a late-night post on his Truth Social platform that he will “not oppose the release of documents” related to the search.
  • Friday, Aug. 12: Reinhart approves the unsealing of the warrant, at the Justice Department’s request and after Trump’s lawyers agreed to the release.

CNN has reported that there has been an uptick in violent rhetoric against Reinhart on the pro-Trump internet. Amid those threats, the official website for the Southern District of Florida removed Reinhart’s biography page, his contact information and his office address, CNN previously reported.

CNN previously did not name Reinhart because of the security concerns, but is doing so now because his name is now part of the public court record.

Read a full timeline here of the Department of Justice’s criminal inquiry into Trump taking classified docs to Mar-a-Lago.

Espionage, obstruction and destruction: CNN analyst breaks down crimes identified in Mar-a-Lago search warrant

The search warrant for former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property identifies three federal crimes the Justice Department is looking at as part of its investigation.

The first one is espionage and part of the Espionage Act, according to analysis by CNN’s legal analyst Elie Honig. He said the espionage piece of the warrant applies to someone who gathered, lost or destroyed defense information.

But the most important part for this to stick legally is the idea of intent, he said, adding that the person had to have the “intent or reason to believe, or reckless of the likelihood that, that information could be used to injure the national interests of the United States.”

The second crime in the warrant is obstruction, Honig said, defining it as essentially an obstruction of justice or “destroying, moving, concealing a document in order to interfere with some sort of ongoing investigation,” he said.

The destruction of a federal document is the third crime in the warrant, Honig said, which the document identifies as criminal handling of government records.

Keep in mind: The prosecutors who wrote the search warrant only needed to have probable cause to include the crimes. This means they realized a certain document was missing, brought that information to a judge, and the judge agreed there was probable cause to include it in the warrant, Honig said.

“It is a lower standard of proof. It’s probable cause, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Honig said. This means if there is ultimately no proof on any of the criminal accusations, the prosecutors “don’t have to and won’t charge it,” he said.

Additionally, “if prosecutors find evidence sufficient to charge other crimes, they can do that too. This is a starting point. This is for the search warrant only,” he added.

Watch more in the video below:

Trump's attorney signed search warrant receipts

Former President Donald Trump's attorney Christina Bobb signed two "receipts for property" on August 8.

The warrant receipts were signed by former President Trump attorney Christina Bobb, who has since spoken out about her presence at Mar-a-Lago during the search.

Bobb has complained about the fact that she and other Trump lawyers weren’t permitted to observe the search while it happened, but it is not standard FBI procedure to allow observers during a search.

She signed two “receipts for property,” which lists the items that the FBI took from Mar-a-Lago. Bobb signed these receipts at 6:19 p.m., when the federal agents were wrapping up their all-day search.

Bobb is a well-known promoter of pro-Trump conspiracy theories, including during her previous position at OAN, the far-right TV channel. CNN has previously reported that Bobb played a leading role in the Trump’s campaign efforts in December 2020 to put forward slates of fake GOP electors in seven states.

These are the items the FBI collected from Mar-a-Lago, according to the unsealed search warrant

The receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

One of the newly unsealed documents is a search warrant “receipt” listing the items that the FBI collected from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

That document reveals FBI agents removed more than 20 boxes from Trump’s resort and residence in Palm Beach, as well as binders of photos, sets of classified government materials and at least one handwritten note.

According to the search warrant receipt, federal agents seized:

  • 1 set of “top secret/SCI” documents
  • 4 sets of “top secret” documents
  • 3 sets of “secret” documents
  • 3 sets of “confidential” documents.

The warrant receipt didn’t detail what such classified documents were about.

Among the items taken:

  • A document about pardoning Roger Stone, a staunch Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Stone-related material taken from Mar-a-Lago was listed in the warrant receipt as “Executive Grant of Clemency re: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.”
  • Material about the “President of France.”

Trump pardoned Stone before leaving office, shielding him from a three-year prison term. It’s unclear how the Stone-related document seized during the search is tied to the broader criminal probe into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified materials.

Read more about the search warrant here.

FBI was authorized to search Trump's "45 Office" and Mar-a-Lago storage rooms

The judge authorized the FBI to search what the bureau called the “45 Office” as well as “all other rooms or areas” at Mar-a-Lago that were available to former President Trump and his staff for storing boxes and documents.  

“The locations to be searched include the ‘45 Office,’ all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate,” the warrant says, using the acronym “FPOTUS” to refer to the former President of the United States. 

The FBI’s warrant application to the judge specifically said that federal agents would avoid areas being rented or used by third parties, “such as Mar-a-Lago members” and “private guest suites.” Trump owns the sprawling estate, and it is his primary residence as well as a members-only club and resort. 

“It is described as a mansion with approximately 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, on a 17-acre estate,” FBI agents told the judge in their application when describing the Mar-a-Lago property.

Warrant was signed on Aug. 5, three days before Mar-a-Lago search was executed

The FBI's unsealed search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

The search warrant was signed by federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart on Friday, Aug. 5, at 12:12 p.m. ET, according to the document. 

FBI agents waited until Monday this week to execute the search. 

And on Friday, Reinhart approved the unsealing of the warrant at the Justice Department’s request and after Trump’s lawyers agreed to the release. 

CNN has reported that there has been an uptick in violent rhetoric against Reinhart on the pro-Trump internet circles. Amid these threats, the official website for the Southern District of Florida removed Reinhart’s biography page, his contact information and office address, CNN previously reported. 

CNN previously did not name Reinhart because of the security concerns, but is doing so now because his name is now part of the public court record.

Read the search warrant for Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort

The US District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Friday unsealed the search warrant and property receipt from the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach earlier this week.

Read the unsealed search warrant here.

Top secret documents among those that FBI removed from Mar-a-Lago

The entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen on Monday evening, August 8.

One of the newly unsealed documents is a search warrant “receipt” listing the items that the FBI collected from Mar-a-Lago. 

That document reveals that FBI agents removed more than 20 boxes from former President Donald Trump’s resort and residence in Palm Beach, Florida, as well as binders of photos, sets of classified government materials and at least one handwritten note. 

Federal agents seized just one set of “top secret/SCI” documents, according to the search warrant receipt. Agents took four sets of “top secret” documents, three sets of “secret” documents, and three sets of “confidential” documents. 

The warrant receipt didn’t detail what these classified documents were about.

Among the items is a document about pardoning Roger Stone, a staunch Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The Stone-related material taken from Mar-a-Lago was listed in the warrant receipt as “Executive Grant of Clemency re: Roger Jason Stone, Jr.”

Trump pardoned Stone before leaving office, shielding Stone from a three-year prison term. It’s unclear how the Stone-related document seized during the search is tied to the broader criminal probe into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified materials. 

A spokesperson for Stone told CNN: “Mr. Stone has no knowledge as to the facts surrounding his clemency documents appearing on the inventory of items seized from former President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.”

During the search, FBI agents also recovered material about the “President of France,” according to the warrant receipt. 

CNN’s Adam Levine contributed reporting to this post.

Judge unseals Mar-a-Lago search warrant documents

A judge has unsealed the search warrant for former President Trump’s Florida home of Mar-a-Lago and related documents.

Judge orders public release of Mar-a-Lago search warrant documents  

The search warrant for former President Trump’s home of Mar-a-Lago and related documents are set to be released publicly imminently, after a federal judge ordered its release on Friday. 

The release marks an unprecedented week that began with the search – an evidence-gathering step in a national security investigation about the mishandling of classified documents. 

FBI took 11 sets of classified docs from Mar-a-Lago, including some highly classified material, documents show

The Secret Service stand outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, on Monday, August 8, in Palm Beach, Florida.

The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from its search of former President Trump’s Florida property Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, including some materials marked as “top secret/SCI,” one of the highest levels of classification, according to documents from the search warrant that were released Friday.

CNN is still going through a copy of the search warrant and receipt.  

CNN has obtained a copy of the search warrant and receipt

Former President Trump’s legal team has agreed to release the historic search warrant that authorized the seizure of federal records from his home at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department told a federal court Friday.

CNN has obtained a copy of the search warrant and receipt and is going through it now.

Mar-a-Lago search warrant identifies 3 federal crimes investigators are looking at, report says

The search warrant for Mar-a-Lago identifies three federal crimes that the Justice Department is looking at as part of its investigation: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records, according to The New York Times. 

The inclusion of the crimes indicates the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate those offenses as it was gathering evidence in the search.

No one has been charged with a crime at this time.

Trump's legal team agrees to the release of Mar-a-Lago search warrant  

Former President Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday, August 10.

Former President Donald Trump’s legal team has agreed the historic search warrant that authorized the seizure of federal records from his home at Mar-a-Lago should be released.

The Justice Department had told the court it believes that unsealing the confidential investigative documents is in the public interest.

The DOJ said it supports releasing four documents: The search warrant itself, two attachments that describe at least to some extent what is being searched and why, and a receipt handed to Trump’s legal team documenting what was seized from the property. 

Remember: The magistrate judge overseeing the case will still need to formally order the unsealing before the documents are released.

National Archives pushes back on Trump’s unsubstantiated claim about Obama’s handling of classified documents

The National Archives pushed back Friday on former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, “kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified” upon leaving office. 

“The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama Presidential records when President Barack Obama left office in 2017, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA),” NARA said in a statement.

“NARA moved approximately 30 million pages of unclassified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the PRA, former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration,” the statement from National Archives said. 

Earlier Friday, Trump alleged that Obama not only kept classified records but that many of them are related to nuclear weapons. Trump made the claim after The Washington Post reported the FBI sought documents related to nuclear weapons when it searched his Mar-a-Lago residence this week. 

FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents, including some at highest classification levels, WSJ reports

Police direct traffic outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, on Monday, August 8.

The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents from its search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this week, including some materials marked as “top secret/SCI,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The newspaper reported that FBI agents removed about 20 boxes from Trump’s resort and residence in Palm Beach, Florida, including binders, sets of classified government materials, photographs and at least one handwritten note.

Federal agents reportedly seized one set of “top secret/SCI” documents — the highest level of classification. Agents took four sets of “top secret” documents, three sets of “secret” documents and three sets of “confidential” documents — the lowest level of classification, the Journal reported.

It’s not known what these classified documents were specifically about.

Among the items taken from Trump’s resort was a document about pardoning Roger Stone, a staunch Trump ally who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump had pardoned Stone before leaving office, shielding Stone from a three-year prison term.

It’s unclear how the Stone-related document seized during the search is tied to the broader criminal probe into Trump’s potential mishandling of classified materials.

During the search, FBI agents also recovered a document about the “President of France,” according to the WSJ report, which didn’t provide other details about the document.

Read more here.

Here's a list of other notable investigations and lawsuits Trump is facing 

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday.

Former President Donald Trump is reportedly nearing a decision on when to announce a 2024 bid to return to the White House, but his legal troubles continue to build — not just with the recent FBI search at Mar-a-Lago.

Multiple federal and state investigations are ongoing regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, his handling of confidential documents and his family business.

Civil lawsuits accusing Trump of defamation and spurring on US Capitol rioters also remain on the docket.

Aside from the the investigation into Trump’s handling of White House documents, here’s an updated list of other notable investigations and lawsuits he is facing:

Jan. 6 and overturning the election: House select committee and Justice Department

The House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack has uncovered dramatic evidence of Trump’s actions before and on Jan. 6, especially efforts to use the levers of government to overturn the election.

The Justice Department is watching —and has an investigation of its own — so while there’s an outstanding question if the committee will recommend any charges for DOJ, it’s not a requirement for the feds to act if the committee does make a referral.

2020 Election: Efforts to overturn Georgia results

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis is overseeing a special grand jury investigating what Trump or his allies may have done in their efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.

Willis, a Democrat, has informed all 16 of the individuals who signed an “unofficial electoral certificate,” which was ultimately sent to the National Archives in late 2020, that they may be indicted in the probe.

Trump Organization: New York Attorney General criminal and civil investigation

Trump this week took the Fifth at his deposition in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation of his namesake business in response to hundreds of questions.

The investigation is nearing the end and James’ office said it needed to question the Trump family to determine who had responsibility for the financial statements at the center of the investigation. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump also recently were deposed and did answer questions. Eric Trump was questioned in 2020 and declined to answer more than 500 questions.

Keep reading here.

A timeline of the Justice Department's criminal inquiry into Trump taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago

Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, and former President Donald Trump

The federal criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s potential mishandling of classified documents ramped up this week in significant and unprecedented fashion, with the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The Justice Department inquiry is about documents that Trump removed from the White House as his term was ending in January 2021. Earlier this year, officials from the National Archives and Records Administration, known as NARA, recovered 15 boxes of presidential documents from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s lawyers previously worked with NARA to voluntarily turn over some documents, but the Mar-a-Lago search clearly indicates a new phase of the probe. Trump has denied all wrongdoing and claims the investigation is a politically motivated sham, intended to derail his potential bid to return to the White House.

Here’s a timeline of the key moments from the investigation:

  • May 2021: An official from NARA contacts Trump’s team after realizing that several important documents weren’t handed over before Trump left the White House. In hopes of locating the missing items, NARA lawyer Gary Stern reaches out to someone who served in the White House counsel’s office under Trump who was the point of contact for record-keeping matters. The missing documents include some of Trump’s correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as well as the map of Hurricane Dorian that Trump infamously altered with a Sharpie pen.
  • Fall 2021: NARA grows frustrated with the slow pace of document turnover after several months of conversations with the Trump team. Stern reaches out to another Trump attorney to intervene. The archivist asks about several boxes of records that were apparently taken to Mar-a-Lago during Trump’s relocation to Florida. NARA still doesn’t receive the White House documents they are searching for.
  • January 2022: After months of discussions with Trump’s team, NARA retrieves 15 boxes of Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago. NARA says in a statement that some of the records it received at the end of Trump’s administration were “torn up by former President Trump,” and that White House officials had to tape them back together. Not all the torn-up documents were reconstructed, NARA says.
  • Feb. 9, 2022: News outlets, including CNN, report that NARA asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of White House records and whether he violated the Presidential Records Act and other laws related to classified information. The Presidential Records Act requires all records created by a sitting president to be turned over to the National Archives at the end of their administration.
  • Feb. 18, 2022: NARA informs the Justice Department that some of the documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago included classified material. NARA also tells the department that, despite being warned it was illegal, Trump tore up documents while he was president, and that senior officials in the Trump administration did not properly preserve their social media messages, draft tweets and deleted tweets.
  • April and May 2022: On April 7, NARA publicly acknowledges for the first time that the Justice Department is involved, and news outlets report that prosecutors have launched a criminal probe into Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. Around this time, FBI agents quietly interview Trump aides at Mar-a-Lago about the handling of presidential records as part of their widening investigation.
  • May 12, 2022: News outlets report that investigators subpoenaed NARA for access to the classified documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago. The subpoena, which is part of the process to allow investigators to take possession of the documents from the NARA, is the first public indication of the Justice Department using a grand jury in its investigation.
  • June 3, 2022: Four investigators, including a top Justice Department counterintelligence official, visit Mar-a-Lago seeking more information about classified material that had been taken to Florida. The four investigators meet with two of Trump’s attorneys, Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran, and look around the basement room where the documents are being stored. Trump briefly stops by the meeting to say hello to the officials, but he does not answer any questions.
  • June 8, 2022: Trump’s attorneys receive a letter from federal investigators, asking them to further secure the room where documents are being stored. In response, Trump aides add a padlock to the room in the basement of Mar-a-Lago.
  • Aug. 8, 2022: The FBI executes a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago — a major escalation of the classified documents investigation. The search focused on the area of the club where Trump’s offices and personal quarters are located. Federal agents remove boxes of material from the property. The search was the first time in American history that a former president’s home was searched as part of a criminal investigation.
  • Aug. 11, 2022: After three days of silence, Attorney General Merrick Garland makes a brief public statement about the investigation. He reveals that he personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant, and pushes back against what he called “unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department.” Garland also announces that the Justice Department will ask a judge to unseal some of the search warrant documents. Trump says in a late-night post on his Truth Social platform that he will “not oppose the release of documents” related to the search.

Pelosi says it's "important" to know the seriousness of documents that may have been at Mar-a-Lago

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference on Friday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday it is “important” to determine the seriousness of the documents that may have been taken by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago, in the wake of The Washington Post reporting the classified nature of some of the materials.

“I think what is important now is to know the seriousness of what these documents were about, alleged to be about. We don’t know. Hopefully we’ll see more but we don’t want to see too much more because that might endanger our security,” Pelosi said.

“There are laws against the improper handling of this material. There are laws against that, and we have to recognize that. This information as it is coming across, and we’ll know more later, is highly classified, well above top secret,” she added.   

The FBI search at Mar-a-Lago this week came months after federal investigators served an earlier grand jury subpoena and took away sensitive national security documents from former President Donald Trump’s property during a June meeting, people familiar with the matter tell CNN.

The speaker said that she hasn’t been briefed at all on the Monday FBI search at Mar-a-Lago or the documents they recovered from the former President’s residence. 

“I don’t know any more than is in the public domain,” she said. “This isn’t declassified. It’s just improperly handled. Now what is it? We’ll see. We’ll see in the unsealing, and that may not tell us everything still, because of the serious nature of all of this.” 

When Pelosi was asked about threats against FBI and law enforcement after the search warrant was executed, she replied: “We need no more evidence than a presidential incitement of an insurrection on the Capitol to know about causing concern about the safety of members of Congress, of our Capitol, of our Constitution and of our law enforcement.” 

Here’s what other Democrats are saying about the search:

Praise for Garland and law enforcement: Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, lauded Attorney General Merrick Garland’s request to unseal the FBI search warrant used at Mar-a-Lago.

“I’m glad that the attorney general is seeking to have the warrant disclosed, and it looks like that will happen now that the former President has raised no objections,” the California Democrat told reporters. “Hopefully that will give the public a sense of why the Justice Department made the decision they did. I have great confidence that Garland considered all of the factors in making the decision.”

Schiff said that the committee will decide whether it will investigate the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin also voiced support for Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“I have respect for the independence of the law enforcement function,” Raskin said. “I have great respect for the Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was my constituent, and I don’t heckle my constituents.”

Jan. 6 investigation: Raskin, a House Jan. 6 committee member, also said the committee would not likely seek anything from the Justice Department regarding the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. 

“Yeah, I just don’t know the answer that question. I guess I don’t, I don’t really see it.” Raskin said. “Our charge under House Resolution 503 is to provide a comprehensive statement about what happened on Jan. 6. Positive-minded meant to make recommendations to fortify American democracy against coups, insurrections, political violence and efforts to usurp the will people.”

“We have enough concrete work ahead of us. You know, we don’t need to multiply the hypotheticals,” Raskin said. 

McCarthy calls on Garland to release more details on FBI search of Trump's Florida property

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters at the US Capitol on Friday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to release more information beyond just the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, but dodged questions about whether he thinks there’s any circumstances in which the search would be justified.  

“The one thing I will tell you, you know, you want to have confidence in your agencies and secrecy just undermines confidence,” McCarthy told reporters. “For the attorney general to do this is unprecedented. What was the timing issue? Why was it needed at this moment? Why don’t they release the subpoena? Why don’t they release the documents?”

McCarthy, who had just exited a meeting in his office with members of the House Freedom Caucus, said he has not spoken to former President Donald Trump since The Washington Post reported that the FBI was searching his home for sensitive nuclear documents. 

When pressed on whether there was anything that would justify such a search, McCarthy said, “We’ll see what it is.” 

It’s a notably more muted response from McCarthy, who days earlier was openly threatening Garland with investigations and urging Republicans to be “loud” in speaking out against the FBI search. 

McCarthy also dodged a question from CNN about whether he condemns his members who have attacked law enforcement and whether he has spoken to those members privately, saying, “Look, I support law enforcement. I condemn the Democrats for defunding the police.” 

McCarthy also told CNN he still believes Trump should wait until after the midterms to announce a presidential bid, but doesn’t think the latest Trump controversy is going to overshadow the GOP’s midterm messaging on inflation and the economy. 

“No, it hasn’t changed at all,” he said of his thinking about the timing of a Trump announcement. “The No. 1 thing that he wants, and America wants, is to put this economy back on track.”

McCarthy also cast doubt on The Washington Post report about Trump being in possession of highly sensitive nuclear documents. 

“Just from my own knowledge, being part of the Gang of Eight, if I’m in the SCIF, and I’m provided information, no information leaves there. It would seem very hard for me to think whatever information the President has sitting in the Oval Office or something else, is at the high level of what people are talking about,” McCarthy said. 

GOP members of House Intelligence Committee seek information on Mar-a-Lago search and reported informant

US Rep. Mike Turner speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Friday. On the right is US Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, urged at a news conference on Friday that Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray explain “the imminent national security threat upon which they based their decision” to search former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and for more information regarding an informant that reportedly helped the FBI.

“There were many other options available to them,” Turner said. “We believe that after the release today that these questions will still remain unanswered.”

Turner praised Garland for requesting that the search warrant and property receipt from the search be unsealed, but he criticized the FBI’s “method” in searching the former president’s Florida home.

“We’re very concerned of the method that was used in raiding Mar-a-Largo in the nine hours that transpired while they were in the former president’s home,” said Turner. “We are glad that Attorney General Garland has begun the process of releasing some of the information to the American public.”
“But it will still leave many unanswered questions,” he added.

Turner said the Republicans would send a letter to Wray today asking about an informant who reportedly gave a tip to investigators about the possibility of additional classified documents at the Palm Beach club. 

“We are also very concerned about the disturbing reports that there was an informant, perhaps somebody even undercover, at Mar-a-Lago or around former President Donald Trump,” said Turner. “What is the relationship between the FBI and the person that has reportedly been utilized in this process?”

Other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee portrayed the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as the latest in a string of actions by the Justice Department targeting Trump and protecting Democrats.

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of GOP leadership, called the Monday search “a complete abuse and overreach of its authority.”

“As the American people know, unfortunately, this is the same agency leadership that protected Hillary Clinton, James Comey and continues to protect Hunter Biden. The same agency leadership that perpetrated the false Russia hoax for years,” she claimed.

In response to a question from CNN’s Daniella Diaz, Turner separated himself from Trump supporters calling to “defund the FBI.”

“We support our men and women in uniform who are in law enforcement,” said Turner. “And we request that anybody who’s made outrageous statements like that that you question them and not us.”

Asked if there’s a situation that would warrant the FBI searching Trump’s home, Turner said, “it would be very, very narrow of anything that just has the umbrella of nuclear weapons in it, that would rise to the level of an immediate national security threat.”

When pressed, Turner added, “There are a number of things that they could show us, and I don’t want to speculate on what those would be, that would obviously rise to the level of maybe you didn’t have any options. But I’d be very, very, very surprised as to what those are considering the breadth of what they could have done besides this, including going to court, trying to enforce the subpoena, demanding that the documents be produced in court.”

“It would be highly unusual for a President to have anything even in the Oval Office that rises to the level of imminent necessary threat,” he added.

Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart said the American people would wonder if the search was political in nature until the Justice Department released more information, pushing back on questions on whether it would be appropriate for the FBI to seize highly classified documents, even those related to nuclear weapons.

“I think it’s naive to assume that the American people would not wonder if it’s political. Of course they’re going to wonder that. Look what’s happened over the last five years. And look at the premise of most of your questions,” said Stewart.

“‘Was it nuclear?’ Hey, heck maybe it was aliens,” he added. “That’s the point. We don’t know. We’re asking them to tell us. And until they tell us, then we’re going to have questions like this. And the presumption is going to be that it is political. There’s a way to de-politicize this. Give us the information.”

In addition, GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters while entering the House chamber he believes Garland and Wray should address the search of Mar-a-Lago with lawmakers. 

“Merrick Garland and Chris Wray should be in front of us today, we’re all here. The Republicans on the Judiciary committee are here, why don’t they come talk to us today?” Jordan said.

Report that FBI sought nuclear documents sharpens Trump showdown with Justice Department

US Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Thursday announcement that the Justice Department has filed a request that the search warrant and property receipt from FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence be unsealed is a neat gambit.

Search warrants are generally kept under seal to protect the reputation of the person they apply to. But Trump himself broke news of the search, thereby shattering his own expectations of privacy, in order to orchestrate a political firestorm to discredit the investigation. And if Trump fought to keep the document sealed, he would look even more like he has something to hide.

“This is a pro move,” Phil Mudd, a former FBI and CIA official, said of Garland’s actions. “This is not the movement of a pawn. This is a movement of something between a rook and a queen.”

If Trump decided to contest the unsealing of the warrant — a step that could neutralize GOP claims that the ex-President is a target of political victimization — his lawyers would have to explain why in court. The judge in the case, who has received death threats and abuse on social media from Trump supporters, could still decide to support the Justice Department’s motion, even if the former President wants to keep the information secret.

Garland’s play is a clear attempt to push back on the fury from Republican officials over the unprecedented search warrant at the former President’s home. Lawmakers, media pundits and Trump supporters have unleashed unhinged claims that the US is now nothing more than a police state, with a Gestapo-like secret police, and has descended into tyranny.

Read more from CNN’s Stephen Collinson here.