Months of disputes between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents over how best to try to recover classified documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and residence led to a tense showdown near the end of July last year, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
Prosecutors argued that new evidence suggested Trump was knowingly concealing secret documents at his Palm Beach, Fla., home and urged the FBI to conduct a surprise raid at the property. But two senior FBI officials who would be in charge of leading the search resisted the plan as too combative and proposed instead to seek Trump’s permission to search his property, according to the four people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive investigation.
Prosecutors ultimately prevailed in that dispute, one of several previously unreported clashes in a tense tug of war between two arms of the Justice Department over how aggressively to pursue a criminal investigation of a former president. The FBI conducted an unprecedented raid on Aug. 8, recovering more than 100 classified items, among them a document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities.
Starting in May, FBI agents in the Washington field office had sought to slow the probe, urging caution given its extraordinary sensitivity, the people said.
Some of those field agents wanted to shutter the criminal investigation altogether in early June, after Trump’s legal team asserted a diligent search had been conducted and all classified records had been turned over, according to some people with knowledge of the discussions.
The idea of closing the probe was not something that was discussed or considered by FBI leadership and would not have been approved, a senior law enforcement official said.
By Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Aaron C. Davis
Read Full Article on WashingtonPost.com