An email released by Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich confirms that three passports were seized during the FBI’s search of the former President’s Mar-a-Lago home on August 8th.
Jay Bratt, Chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) of the National Security Division (NSD), sent an email Monday morning to Trump attorneys Evan Corcoran and James Trusty, informing them the Dept. was in possession of two expired passports and one active one – Trump’s diplomatic passport – that could be picked up that afternoon.
FBI returned Trump’s one expired passport today. The email to his lawyers references a “filter team,” which means there is a team weeding out privileged and other material, per email released by Trump spokesman earlier pic.twitter.com/Re5OfgwcHO
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 16, 2022
Filter teams are groups of federal investigators who screen materials seized during search warrant execution, thereby “filtering,” the information that’s privileged and returning those outside the scope of the warrant.
The FBI said in a statement, per CBS News, that when executing a search warrant
“the bureau follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts, then returns items that we do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes.”
The email was sent to Trump’s legal team prior to the ex-President’s accusations on his platform Truth Social that the passports had been “stolen” by the FBI. Trump posted this that afternoon:
“Wow! In the raid by the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our country. Third World!”
11 sets of documents containing varying levels of top secret status were taken from the former President’s Palm Beach estate as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into whether or not Trump violated three federal statutes – including the Espionage Act – when he removed nearly 30 sets of classified material.
Four federal agents including the NSD’s Bratt visited Mar-a-Lago in the spring. Trump’s attorneys signed a document certifying that all classified materials had already been removed. But the intelligence from a tip from an anonymous source with credible information on the matter suggested otherwise – prompting the August 8th return to Mar-a-Lago.
Though Donald Trump and his representatives would like the public to believe otherwise, the use of filter agents to separate documents material to the warrant — and Bratt’s email notifying Trump’s legal team of the discovery — suggest taking of the passports wasn’t intentional, despite Trump’s accusations.
Original reporting by Melissa Quinn and Robert Legare at CBS News.
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