Former President Donald Trump’s passports, which were taken by the FBI during a search of his South Florida home last week, have been returned to him, a law enforcement source confirmed to CBS News. The passports were returned to Trump, according to the source, after they were identified by a “filter team,” a group of federal investigators who check items acquired during the execution of a search warrant for privileged or superfluous information.
In a statement, the FBI stated that when it executes search warrants, it “follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts, then returns items that we do not need to hold for law enforcement purposes.” In a post on Truth Social, the former president’s social media platform, at 1:30 p.m. ET Monday, Trump claimed the FBI “stole” three passports, one of which he claimed was expired when officials searched Mar-a-Lago last week.
“This was an assault on a political opponent on a scale never witnessed in our country before,” he wrote. “The Third World!” Several hours later, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich shared on Twitter an email from Jay Bratt, a top Justice Department official, informing the former president’s lawyers that the passports had been taken and would be returned.
“We have heard that the screening agents grabbed three of President Trump’s passports, two of which were expired and one of which was his official diplomatic passport. We’re returning them, and they’ll be available for pick-up at WFO at 2 p.m. today “Bratt was referring to the bureau’s field office in Washington.
The email was sent to Trump’s attorneys at 12:49 p.m. ET Monday before the former president claimed the FBI seized his passports. The law enforcement source also confirmed the accuracy of the email from Bratt, who is the chief of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
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According to the search warrant and property receipt unsealed by a federal magistrate judge in Florida on Friday, FBI agents seized 11 sets of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, including boxes containing records labeled “secret,” “top secret,” “confidential,” and “classified/TS/SCI,” or top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
The warrant and accompanying documents also stated that the president is being investigated for probable violations of three federal crimes, including the Espionage Act, and specifically the provision of that act dealing with gathering, transferring, or losing defense material. Since the FBI’s investigation, Trump has repeatedly chastised the Justice Department and the FBI, claiming without evidence that it was a politically motivated attack aimed at President Biden’s potential rival in 2024.
On Friday, Trump claimed that his legal team had been complying with the government’s requests for the papers, but CBS News discovered that weeks before the search, one of Trump’s lawyers signed a letter confirming that all classified information had been removed from Mar-a-Lago.
According to two individuals, the certification came following a June 3 meeting between Justice Department officials and Trump’s lawyers at the South Florida property, and a grand jury subpoena was also issued in the spring. After the former president’s attorney confirmed that all classified files had been removed from Mar-a-Lago, investigators discovered that there could be more.
Trump has also stated that some of the documents obtained by the FBI were protected by attorney-client and executive privilege, and that “they knowingly should not have been taken.” The reference to filter agents by Bratt, on the other hand, shows that the FBI is striving to guarantee that federal prosecutors do not process sensitive material outside the limits of the search warrant.