FBI’s use of news stories in seeking the Russia FISA warrants against Trump adviser Carter Pages was sharply criticized by the internal watchdog of the Justice Department.
Like the Russia collusion FISA warrants before it, the FBI search warrant for Donald Trump’s Florida estate relied on multiple news media reports from outlets such as Breitbart and CBS to justify its unprecedented request to raid a former president’s home.
For instance, the bureau relied on a local CBS report to establish that Trump had moved boxes suspected to contain documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago in mid-January 2021, just before he left office, according to the partially redacted FBI affidavit made public by a court Friday.
“According to a CBS Miami article titled ‘Moving Tucks Spotted At Mar-a-Lago,’ published Monday, January 18, 2021, at least two moving trucks were observed at the PREMISES on January 18, 2021,” the memo related.
Another citation referred to a Breitbart article from May in which former Trump adviser Kash Patel was quoted as saying he did not believe documents found at Mar-a-Lago and returned to the National Archives and Records Administration were classified. The citation refers to Trump as “FPOTUS,” meaning former president.
“I am aware of an article published in Breitbart on May 5, 2022, available at https://www.breitbart.comvoliticsi2022i05/05/documents-mar-a-lago-marked-classified-wereah-eadv-declassifi.ed-kash-patel-savs/, which states that Kash Patel, who is described as a former top FPOTUS administration official, characterized as ‘misleading’ reports in other news organizations that NARA had followed classified materials among records that FPOTUS provided to NARA from Mar-a-Lago. Patel alleged that such reports were misleading because FPOTUS had declassified the materials at issue,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit supporting the search.
The next few paragraphs are redacted so it is not readily apparent why that reference is relevant.
The affidavit states that a total of 184 documents with classification markings had been found when Trump returned documents to the Archives in 15 boxes early in 2022, and that was among the reasons the FBI believed it had “probable cause” to search Trump’s home on Aug. 8.
By John Solomon