'Fruits of crime': What to expect from released affidavit of FBI raid at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club

A federal judge ordered prosecutors to release portions of the search warrant affidavit without compromising the investigation

ByChuck Goudie and Ross Weidner, Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel via WLS logo
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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A federal judge is moving forward with the release of additional documents in the federal criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump.

A federal judge is moving forward with the release of additional documents in the federal criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump.

The search warrant explains that FBI agents moved on Trump's Mar-a-Lago mansion looking for "fruits of crime," evidence and contraband, among other things.

The judge Thursday ordered prosecutors to come up with a way to release portions of the search warrant affidavit without compromising the investigation.

But even that paperwork had some blacked out sections, giving a glimpse of what the finished public release may look like.

"The details that justify taking the incredible step of issuing and executing a search warrant at the home of a former president. So that was the subject of today's hearing," explained Deanna Shullman, the attorney representing media outlets.

RELATED: Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate raided by FBI agents, sources confirm

News organizations, including ABC, flooded the federal court in Florida, looking to unlock all the paperwork filed by prosecutors that convinced a judge there was evidence of a crime.

When the FBI moved on Mar-a-Lago 10 days ago, the affidavit that supported their search warrant became the Holy Grail of this operation.

Former Chicago federal prosecutor and ABC7's legal analyst, Gil Soffer, said authorities will try to black out as much as possible.

"The judge has essentially made clear that he's going to order a release of some parts of this affidavit. Up to the government, at least initially, what they want to redact," he said.

The government has a week to submit its redacted version of the affidavit.

"It doesn't want any of this information out in the public domain, the judge is likely to scale back to government's efforts. I think we will learn something, no matter how much is redacted," Soffer said. "Let's start with what we won't see. We won't see names of confidential informants. We won't see identifying personally identifying information, but I think we will necessarily learn some details about what gave probable cause here, what sorts of investigative techniques the government use, what subpoenas did it serve?"

RELATED: FBI raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate raises critical national security questions: Sources

Prosecutors, surprisingly admitted the investigation is in its early stages.

"Typically, you see a search warrant executed, but when an investigation is very far along. I think what it tells us, among other things, the government was worried that this evidence could disappear and, or at a minimum, that these boxes of sensitive documents should not have been in an unsecured location," said Soffer.

While we know the alleged fruits of crime removed from Mar-a-Lago listed out in previous documents, what we still don't know is who told law enforcement about it in the first place or why the classified material was there.

Even redacted records may not provide those answers, according to Soffer, but they could tell us the nature of the national security documents, including whether there were nuclear top secrets.