Federal agents investigating former President Donald Trump's connection to classified materials told the judge who signed the search warrant for his Florida estate last year that they were concerned that the whereabouts of some documents were unknown, a new court filing shows.
A less redacted version of the search warrant affidavit made public Wednesday indicated that Justice Department officials became concerned after they viewed security camera video from Mar-a-Lago that they'd obtained from Trump's company.
The affidavit said the videos showed a Trump employee — since identified as aide Walt Nauta, a former White House valet — moving boxes out of a storage area where Trump and his lawyers had previously acknowledged having kept classified documents.
"[T]he current location of the boxes that were removed from the storage room area but not returned to is unknown," the affidavit says.
Those videos were referred to in the criminal indictment filed against Trump and Nauta last month. The indictment said that in the days before the Justice Department went to recover documents pursuant to a subpoena in June of last year, Nauta removed 64 boxes from the storage room and took them to Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago. He took just 30 of the boxes back to the storage room before federal authorities arrived, according to the indictment.
The less redacted version of the affidavit also refers to other allegations mentioned in the indictment, including statements from a Trump attorney that he’d been told “all the records that came from the White House were stored in one location within Mar-a-Lago, the storage room.” The indictment said the documents had been stored in several locations, including Trump’s office and residence, a ballroom stage and a bathroom.
The government has said the FBI search turned up over 100 classified documents, some marked "secret" and "top secret."
The federal judge in Florida who signed off on the August search warrant, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, ordered the additional information from the affidavit be made public in an order earlier Wednesday.
Reinhart denied a request by media organizations, including NBC News, that the entire affidavit be unsealed in the wake of last month's related criminal charges against Trump but found that "additional portions of the search warrant application should be unsealed."
He said the Justice Department agreed in a sealed filing that some additional parts of the search warrant could be made public but asked that other parts remain sealed to "comply with grand jury secrecy rules and to protect investigative sources and methods."
Reinhart said the Justice Department "has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions of the affidavit are narrowly tailored to serve the Government's legitimate interests and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire search warrant affidavit."
The newly released sections of the affidavit involve information in the 37-count federal indictment that was unsealed last month.
Trump is accused of breaking seven different laws, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information and single counts of false statements and representations, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document, concealing a document in a federal investigation and a scheme to conceal.
He has pleaded not guilty and claimed that he had declassified the documents and that they were his to do with as he pleased.
Nauta, Trump’s co-defendant, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
His order Wednesday showed the Justice Department is also seeking to keep under wraps its motion about a limited unsealing of some materials so they could be turned over to Trump's lawyers.
Reinhart said that he would allow the motion to remain under seal because it "identifies investigative steps that have not yet been made public" but that he would allow his ruling on the government's request to be made public because it does "not disclose the contents of any discovery material."
Reinhart stayed the order until July 13 to give the government time to decide whether it wants to appeal.
Peter Carr, a spokesperson for special counsel Jack Smith, declined to comment Wednesday.
An attorney for Trump didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.