FBI was authorized to use ‘deadly force’ in Mar-a-Lago classified docs search

The Department of Justice authorized “the use of deadly force” when FBI agents swarmed former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August 2022 looking for classified documents, according to court filings Tuesday.

Agents in the Aug. 8 raid were tasked with seizing “classified information, [National Defense Information], and US Government records,” reads to an operations order revealed in evidence as part of Trump’s criminal case involving the allegedly mishandled documents in Florida.

The authorities also were told to conceal their “law enforcement equipment” and come armed with “ammo,” “handcuffs” and “medium and large sized bolt cutters,” notes the filing by lawyers for the former president.

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The Department of Justice authorized “the use of deadly force” when FBI agents swarmed former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August 2022 looking for classified documents, according to new court filings. AP

According to the lawyers, Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise, the nearly 10-hour “unconstitutional” search swept through the Palm Beach estate’s gym and kitchen, as well as the bedroom suite of former first lady Melania Trump and the bedroom of the couple’s teenage son Barron Trump.

FBI agents only discovered classified documents in a basement storage room, an office of the former president and rooms adjacent to the office.

The government says Trump illegally removed the documents, which include “national defense information,” from the White House, while the former president says he has done nothing illegal.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General George Toscas, in a phone call in the days leading up to the raid, allegedly said he “frankly [didn’t] give a damn about the optics” of the recovery operation.

politics, us news, donald trump, fbi, mar-a-lago, trump indictment, fbi was authorized to use ‘deadly force’ in mar-a-lago classified docs search
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The nearly 10-hour search of former President Donald Trump’s estate swept through the bedroom suite of former first lady Melania Trump and the bedroom of their teenage son Barron Trump. via REUTERS

Attorney General Merrick Garland has said he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant.”

Evidence in the court filing reveals an earlier back-and-forth between Trump’s lawyer and a prosecutor working for special counsel Jack Smith over retrieving the documents.

But Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, had told the House Judiciary Committee in an interview last year that he expressed concerns about executing the search warrant without the consent of one of Trump’s lawyers.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a Post request for comment Tuesday.

politics, us news, donald trump, fbi, mar-a-lago, trump indictment, fbi was authorized to use ‘deadly force’ in mar-a-lago classified docs search
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How The Post told the story in June 2023.

Smith went on to land an indictment against the former president on 37 criminal counts in June 2023 for allegedly retaining more than 100 classified documents at Mar-a-Lago that the FBI seized in the raid and lying to his lawyer and the federal authorities who sought them.

Trump’s lawyers, in another motion Tuesday, asked for that evidence to be suppressed along with audio recordings from one of his lawyers, Evan Corcoran, that bolstered prosecutors’ allegations of obstruction of justice.

Smith fired back in filings of his own, as prosecutors prepare for hearings before US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Wednesday in Fort Pierce, Fla.

politics, us news, donald trump, fbi, mar-a-lago, trump indictment, fbi was authorized to use ‘deadly force’ in mar-a-lago classified docs search
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Attorney General Merrick Garland has said he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant.” REUTERS

The special counsel revealed additional evidence that Trump valet Walt Nauta, who was indicted as a co-defendant in the case, conspired with maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira to delete camera footage of them moving boxes full of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.

In a previously sealed opinion, DC US District Senior Judge Beryl Howell wrote that prosecutors had presented evidence of Corcoran tipping Trump off about a subpoena for video footage at Mar-a-Lago.

News of the subpoena apparently prompted the former president to ask Nauta to return some boxes with the sensitive files to basement storage — but “avoid the surveillance cameras he then understood to have been deputized by the government,” Howell said.

politics, us news, donald trump, fbi, mar-a-lago, trump indictment, fbi was authorized to use ‘deadly force’ in mar-a-lago classified docs search
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Classified documents were found in Trump’s home. AP

Prosecutors were later unable to find video footage of the boxes returning, she added.

Cannon indefinitely postponed the trial over the classified documents earlier this month, writing in an order that to stick to the May 20 deadline would “be imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions … and additional pretrial and trial preparations necessary to present this case to a jury.”

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