The search of Mar-a-Lago leads to outrage against the FBI by Trump supporters
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Federal authorities are warning of further threats to law enforcement.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
This warning is no surprise after a week of armed protests and one actual attack. Republican officials and right-wing media have spent the last week denouncing the FBI. They are responding after federal agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at the residence of former President Donald Trump. Court documents now show the agents found numerous classified and top-secret documents there. Trump initially suggested without evidence that the documents were planted, but has since changed his story to say that he was allowed to have them.
FADEL: NPR's justice correspondent Ryan Lucas joins us now. Hi, Ryan.
RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Hi there.
FADEL: So let's start with these threats. How concerned are federal officials right now about possible violence targeting law enforcement?
LUCAS: They're very concerned. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray both made statements about it last week. They defended the FBI and the Justice Department, the people who work there and the jobs that they do. But a source tells me on Friday, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued what's known as a joint intelligence bulletin. And that warned of a significant jump in threats to federal law enforcement since the Mar-a-Lago search. It told officials to be attuned to issues related to domestic violent extremists. And it also referenced the man who tried to storm the FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, last week. That man fled after a standoff with police. He was later shot and killed. We also saw over the weekend armed Trump supporters protest outside the FBI's field office in Phoenix and Arizona. It wasn't a big demonstration. Nothing happened. But it is a reflection of how strongly Trump supporters feel about the Mar-a-Lago search. It shows their willingness to act. So these concerns on the part of officials are rooted in real-world action.
FADEL: Now, last week, as we heard Steve mention, a federal judge in Florida made the warrant and property receipt from the Mar-a-Lago search public. Just remind us what we learned from those documents.
LUCAS: We learned a lot, really. We now know the potential crimes the FBI is investigating here. There are three that are listed in the search warrant. One is for destruction of documents. This is related to obstruction. Unclear here what exactly Trump may have been attempting to obstruct. Another is for the unlawful removal or concealment or destruction of federal records. And then the third is for the mishandling of national defense information. This is part of the Espionage Act. All three of these are serious offenses. I have covered cases of people who have gone to prison for these things. That said, it is very important to remember that this time, Trump has not been charged with a crime.
FADEL: Right. We also found out what the FBI took in its search of Mar-a-Lago, including sets of highly classified information. What else do we know?
LUCAS: That's right. These items were listed in what's known as the property receipt. It's a list of what agents take in a court-authorized search like this. And, yes, the FBI seized boxes of documents, some labeled secret, some top secret and some were at an even higher classification level that's known as TS/SCI. That's a big deal. A person familiar with the investigation tells me that among the papers the FBI was looking for were classified U.S. nuclear documents. The Washington Post was the first to report that. The source did not say whether those items were among the records that were recovered at Mar-a-Lago. Agents also collected binders of photos, the clemency papers for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, as well as something that was cryptically listed as information about the president of France.
FADEL: And what are you watching for in the days to come?
LUCAS: Well, I'm looking to see whether the affidavit from the search will be made public. It would explain why investigators thought there was probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed and why evidence of that crime was at Mar-a-Lago. So that would give us more details of this investigation. Media organizations are trying to get this unsealed now, so keeping an eye to see how that legal battle plays out.
FADEL: NPR's Ryan Lucas. Thanks so much.
LUCAS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.