DOJ to return Trump passports. Hearing on affidavit set - live updates - USA TODAY

DOJ to return Trump passports. Hearing on affidavit set - live updates - USA TODAY

Aug 16, 2022 2 mins, 24 secs

WASHINGTON – Two top lawyers in Donald Trump’s White House have been interviewed by the FBI in relation to the ongoing investigation into the storage of classified documents at the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday it would return the passports, and the FBI issued a statement saying the bureau “returns items that do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes.".

Federal investigators interviewed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy Pat Philbin as part of the Justice Department’s inquiry into the storage of classified records at the former president’s Florida estate, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The two attorneys are the highest-ranking Trump administration officials known to have been interviewed so far in the federal probe which took a dramatic turn last week when the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.

Federal authorities said they would return Donald Trump’s three passports Tuesday, as the Justice Department faced rising pressure to release more details and justification for the unprecedented search of the former president’s Florida estate.

Jay Bratt, a top official in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said in the email agents determined the travel documents were unrelated to the search Aug.

The FBI said in a statement that in executing search warrants, the agency “follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts, then returns items that do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes.".

House Republicans told the Justice Department to preserve documents about the search.

The Florida federal magistrate who signed off the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate has set a Thursday hearing to weigh arguments on whether to unseal the government’s affidavit supporting the search.

Even before the FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, the ex-president's supporters on the far-right, who had spent a year after the Jan.

The Mar-a-Lago search, and the corresponding investigation of Trump, is being viewed as a similar overreach, experts said. 

Despite releasing the search warrant Friday, the Justice Department on Monday opposed releasing the affidavit that explained to a judge the probable cause that a crime was committed, to justify the search

News organizations had filed a motion in federal court to make public the affidavit, which would shed new light on the department's investigation into Trump’s alleged removal of classified documents from the White House

Two congressional panels –the House Intelligence and Oversight and Reform committees – have asked for a briefing from the director of national security about potential risks from documents stored at Mar-a-Lago

Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, said the unprecedented search needed unprecedented justification

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