Judicial Watch announced last week that it received 477 pages of records pages from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that show top officials of the National Security Division discussing the political implications of Trump allowing CNN to use closed-circuit TV (CCTV) footage of the raid on his Mar-a-Lago home. The documents confirm that the Justice Department had asked that Mar-a-Lago CCTV be turned off before the raid.
Judicial Watch obtained the records in response to a September 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the Justice Department failed to respond to an August 2022 request for records about the August 8, 2022 Mar-a-Lago raid ((Judicial Watch Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice) (No. 1:22-cv-02884)).
In an August 17, 2022, email exchange, with the subject “CNN – Mar-a-Lago CCTV Footage,” a trial attorney with the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division, whose name is redacted, writes to colleagues:
I just received a call from our case agents at FBI, and apparently the Bureau has been given a heads-up by CNN that CNN has CCTV [closed circuit television] footage from Mar-a-Lago (presumably of agents executing the search) that they may air as soon as tonight [Redacted]
I have no further info on what, specifically, CNN has. But [redacted].
Jay Bratt, chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, comments, “CNN is saying FPOTUS [former president] is still weighing whether to release the footage.”
Communications Advisor Luis Rossello adds:
Got a call from Evan [likely then-Trump attorney Evan Corcoran]. As Jay says, Trump team is still weighing the release. Per Evan, some say it will energize base, others say not a good look for FPOTUS to have it out there.
CNN is working on a story that Jay requested Trump team to turn off the cameras and they refused.
Justice Department official George Toscas replies, “We’re waiting to hear back from FBIHQ on their recommended approach.”
Bratt writes, “We did. This was in the call [redacted] and I had with Evan Corcoran before the search. It is standard for [redacted].”
Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Marshall Miller forwards the exchange to a personal email account of Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
Miller makes a comment that is entirely redacted, to which a Justice Department National Security Division official, whose name is redacted, responds, “Kelsey/Luis: Will we also plan to communicate to CNN the law enforcement safety need to blur agent faces if footage ends up being released?”
Anthony Coley, Director of the DOJ Public Affairs Office, replies, “Done.”
“If the Biden regime’s unprecedented and abusive FBI raid on Trump’s home was on the up and up, they would have been happy to have it recorded on video,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Judicial Watch is in the forefront of the court battles for transparency regarding Biden administration’s targeting of former President Trump.
A separate Judicial Watch lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration resulted in the release of 1,276 pages of records about the unprecedented document dispute between Archives and President Trump. Click here or here to review the records.
In September 2022, Judicial Watch filed lawsuits against the DOJ for its records and the FBI’s records about the Mar-a-Lago raid search warrant application and approval, as well as communications about the warrant between the FBI, Executive Office of the President and the Secret Service.
In October 2022, Judicial Watch sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all communications of the U.S. Secret Service internally and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the raid on Trump’s home and for any video or audio recordings made during the raid.
In November 2022, Judicial Watch sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for all communications between the Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding the search warrant that precipitated the raid on former Trump’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago.