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The search warrant affidavit for former President Donald Trump’s residence unsealed by a federal court in Florida Friday was heavily redacted and included little new information.
But the document is at the center of a major investigation into a former president and is drawing major reaction from both sides of the political aisle.
Here are the top things to know about what was – and wasn’t – included in the affidavit.
1. Lots of black ink
Approximately 20 pages of the 38-page document were either significantly or fully redacted. Twenty-four pages had at least some information blacked out.
Significant redactions were expected, given the Justice Department’s argument about the sensitivity of the case.
“Premature disclosure of the contents of this affidavit and related documents may have a significant and negative impact on the continuing investigation and may severely jeopardize its effectiveness by allowing criminal parties an opportunity to flee, destroy evidence (stored electronically and otherwise), change patterns of behavior, and notify criminal confederates,” the Justice Department wrote.
2. Lots of pages
The length of the affidavit was also notable. An average search warrant affidavit from federal law enforcement is significantly shorter than the 38-page document the FBI submitted to Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.
Prof. Mark W. Smith, a professor at the Ave Maria School of Law and senior fellow in law and public policy at The King’s College told Fox News Digital the length still raises questions.
“The length of the probable cause affidavit is not unprecedented, but it is a bit odd. The more explaining an attorney must do in writing often that translates into a longer legal document and frequently signifies a weaker legal position,” he said. “The reference to multiple federal statutes and detailed discussion of confidential designations makes the document look a bit like an educational tool for the public or perhaps for the Florida federal courts.”
Other legal experts said the length could stem from extra carefulness given the warrant was to raid the home of an ex-president.
3. Affidavit cites other documents Trump possessed with classified markings
The affidavit refers to nearly 200 documents with classified markings that Trump had previously handed over. It said that the FBI in May inspected 15 boxes of documents Trump gave to the National Archives and Records Administration earlier this year, which contained a trove of documents marked classified.
“A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET,” the affidavit said. “Based on my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels typically contain NDI.”
Trump and his legal team argue that the former president had blanket authority to declassify any and all documents he wanted. They say any documents found at Mar-a-Lago were declassified by his order.
“His constitutionally-based authority regarding the classification and declassification of documents is unfettered,” Trump lawyer M. Evan Cocoran write in a letter cited by the affidavit.
There are some laws that would allow a person to be prosecuted for possession of information sensitive to national security, whether that information is classified or not. Any prosecution of a former president for such an offense, however, would be unprecedented.
4. Justice Department said it had “probable cause” of “obstruction”
In addition to suspicion more documents with classified markings remained at Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department said it believed it could find evidence of Trump obstructing investigations.
“Further, there is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at the PREMISES,” it said. “There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES.”
It’s not clear how the Justice Department believes Trump may have been obstructing, or when that may have taken place. Other federal investigations looked into Trump allegedly obstructing justice in recent years.
5. Trump reacts
Trump unloaded on the Justice Department in posts on his “Truth Social” social media network Friday. He called the investigation a “witch hunt.”
“Affidavit heavily redacted!!! Nothing mentioned on ‘Nuclear,’ a total public relations subterfuge by the FBI & DOJ, or our close working relationship regarding document turnover – WE GAVE THEM MUCH,” Trump said. “Judge Bruce Reinhart should NEVER have allowed the Break-In of my home.”
Fox News’ Bill Mears, Will Riccardella, Brooke Singman, Haris Alic, and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.