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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

FBI asst. director didn’t think he had clearance to view Mar-a-Lago docs

Jun 12, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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The House Judiciary Committee interviewed the former assistant director of the FBI Washington field office, Steven D’Antuono, about the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago. The interview got into the specifics of how the search was conducted and the decision-making process leading up to the execution of the warrant. 

Now, Republicans and Democrats on the committee are releasing pieces of the transcript that fit their narratives.

The GOP pointed the public to places where the FBI and Justice Department appear to have deviated from standard protocol. 

First, the warrant was executed by the Washington field office, not the Miami field office, despite it being in Miami’s jurisdiction. 

Second, a U.S. attorney was not assigned to the case, which D’Antuono described as unusual. He said he raised the concern several times with Department officials but he “never got a good answer.”

Third, D’Antuono said the FBI did not try to get permission to search the property before executing the search warrant. He said based on his 20 years of experience, the FBI should have sought consent to search the premises.

D’Antuono said he believes had the FBI worked with Trump’s attorney, “there was a good likelihood that [they] could have gotten consent.” 

Republicans on the committee are requesting that Attorney General Garland turn over documents and communications related to the search by 5 p.m., Friday, June 16.

Democrats want the public to focus on the sensitive nature of the documents Trump had in his possession. 

D’Antuono said he didn’t look at the documents at Mar-A-Lago because he didn’t think he had the proper clearances, even though he was cleared to view top secret sensitive compartmented information, which can only be viewed on a need-to-know basis. 

D’Antuono exlained why the FBI felt it was so important to retrieve the documents.

“We want to get those documents back. We want to make sure the people that are viewing the documents have the respective clearances. That’s why I never looked at any of the documents. I don’t believe I had the clearances for some of them and I didn’t want to look at them, right. So I didn’t want to cause that more spillage,” D’Antuono said, according to a transcript. 

D’Antuono also talked about probable cause and ensuring that the search warrant was written in a way that his agents would approve.

D’Antuono: “So DOJ attorneys are writing this with a combination of the agents, and it went back and forth with so many different revisions because there were a lot of leaps that were being taken in this document as to the probable cause, right.”

Interviewer: “Well, your agents wouldn’t sign an affidavit that included false statements, correct?”

D’Antouno: “That is correct. But there are –”

Interviewer: “Okay. Are you confident that the evidence that they described in that affidavit is correct?”

D’Antuono: “Correct. The probable cause for the search, the lawful search of Mar-a-Lago is correct, yes.” 

Judiciary Democrats also said President Trump was present at Mar-a-Lago when his attorney handed the agents a letter stating there were no more classified documents at the property, which was not true.

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The House Judiciary Committee interviewed former Assistant Director of the FBI Field Office Steven D’Antuono about the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago and now Republicans and Democrats on the committee are releasing pieces of the transcript that fit their narrative. 

 

For instance, Republicans pointed the public to places where the FBI and DOJ appear to have deviated from standard protocol. 

 

First, the warrant was executed by the Washington Field Office, not the Miami field office, despite it being in Miami’s jurisdiction. 

 

Second, A US  Attorney was not assigned to the case, which D’Antuono described as unusual. He said he raised the concern several times with Department officials but he quote: “never got a good answer”. 

 

Third, D’Antuono said the FBI did not try to get permission to search the property before executing the search warrant. He said based on his 20 years of experience, the FBI should have sought consent to search the premises. D’Antuono said he believes had the FBI worked with Mr. Trump’s attorney quote: “there was a good likelihood that [they] could have gotten consent . 

 

Now, here’s what the Democrats want the public to focus on. D’Antuono said he didn’t look at the documents at Mar-A-Lago because he didn’t think he had the proper clearances, even though he was cleared to view Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information which can only be viewed on a need to know basis. 

 

D’Antuono said quote: 

“We want to get those documents back. We want to make sure the people that are viewing the documents have the respective clearances. That’s why I never looked at any of the

Documents. I don’t believe I had the clearances for some of them and I didn’t want to look at them, right. So I didn’t want to cause that – more spillage.”

 

D’Antuono also talked about probable cause and writing the search warrant in a way that his agents would approve. 

 

D’Antuono said: “So DOJ attorneys are writing this with a combination of the agents, and it went back and forth with so many different revisions because there were a lot of leaps that were being taken in this document as to the probable cause. right a lot of revisions went through. We got comfortable. I made sure, can you sign this? And they’re like, yes, we’re comfortable signing this, right

 

The interviewers follow up: Well, your agents wouldn’t sign an affidavit that included false statements, correct?

 

D’Antouno said, That is correct. But there are – Okav. Are you confident that the evidence that they described in that affidavit is correct?

 

D’Antuono answered: Correct. The probable cause for the search, the lawful search of Mar-a-Lago is correct, yes. 

 

 Republicans on the committee are requesting that Attorney General Garland turn over documents and communications related to the search by 5pm Friday. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.