Some allies of former US President Donald Trump are urging him to publicly release surveillance footage of FBI agents executing a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida home, a proposal that has drawn mixed reactions, it found. The CNN .
The CCTV footage has been kept so secret that the former president’s aides aren’t sure he saw it in full himself, a person close to Trump said. “I don’t think it was shared by anyone outside of lawyers,” this source said.
However, when asked earlier this week by Fox News’ Sean Hannity if the footage would be released, Trump’s son Eric said: “Absolutely Sean, at the right time.”
Some of Trump’s aides and allies have encouraged the former president to make some of the images available to the public, believing it could stir up the Republican Party’s base.
A source said there are discussions about showing the August images in campaign-style ads, believing the images could bolster Trump’s political persecution claims.
Another person close to Trump said it is not a matter of the former president and his team releasing any of the images, but when, noting that it could be released before he makes a 2024 campaign announcement.
Others close to the former president have warned of the risks if he releases the tapes. A second source warned that the release of the footage could backfire, providing a visual understanding of the sheer volume of material that federal agents seized at his residence, including classified materials.
“It’s one thing to read a bunch of numbers on an inventory list, it’s another to see law enforcement officers actually carrying more than a dozen boxes from President Trump’s house knowing they likely contain confidential documents. I don’t see how that helps you,” said this person, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity.
Trump could also spend the next few months simply raising the possibility of releasing the images to be used as a political weapon without ever doing so.
Federal prosecutors have disclosed in recent days that the investigation “involves highly confidential materials” and that their work is continuing, potentially leading to criminal charges.
While it’s unclear what the surveillance footage might show, Trump and his lawyers say they recorded the Aug. 8 search by federal investigators even after agents called for the security cameras to be turned off.
Jay Bratt, the head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence section who visited Mar-a-Lago in June, was the official who made the request on the day of the search, a source told CNN .
On Tuesday, Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform that FBI agents “demanded that all security cameras be turned off… We said no!” It is not uncommon for the FBI to try to ensure that no cameras are capturing such a search when confidential materials are involved.
As the former president and his team weigh whether and when to release any of the surveillance footage, his impending 2024 presidential campaign announcement could be a factor, said a person familiar with the matter. The former president is widely expected to seek the candidacy, although he is still deciding when to formally launch his campaign.
It’s unclear whether he consulted with his current legal team about the potential implications of releasing the surveillance footage. The former president has been looking to hire experienced attorneys to help him navigate the federal investigation into his presidential record keeping in Mar-a-Lago.
“If anyone can convince him that this is good for him and bad for his enemies, he will,” said Ty Cobb, a former White House attorney under Trump. “He doesn’t have lawyers to help him sort these things out strategically and he’s really thinking about them on his own.”
Among Trump’s allies urging him to release the surveillance footage in full or curated versions is former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who told CNN in an interview that is in favor of disseminating the images.
A second Trump ally who spoke to CNN On condition of anonymity, he also encouraged the former president’s team to make the footage public, saying it would “take the banana base” to see FBI agents “grinding around Mar-a-Lago while President Trump was out of town.” ”. The former president was at Trump Tower in New York when the search took place,
Trump and his allies have repeatedly said on social media that Republicans are benefiting from a wave of enthusiasm among grassroots voters who believe the Justice Department abused its authority by executing a warrant to search the former president’s home.
But releasing the tapes could neutralize some of the more conspiratorial excuses for the search that have been circulating in recent days, including the baseless notion that the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago — a claim the former president himself repeated and which he did not. there is evidence to support it, especially after Trump’s own lawyer signed the arrest receipts at the end of the search.
Before revealing that he kept his surveillance cameras at Mar-a-Lago, Trump also claimed that “no one” was allowed to watch the FBI search his home.
Trump’s former attorney Cobb said he was skeptical that Trump would eventually release the footage.
“If something problematic happened, like showing someone planting evidence or something, it would be really explosive,” Cobb said. “That’s the main reason I doubt they’ll make it public, because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t show and takes that crazy claim off the table.”
using to your advantage
As Trump ponders a third presidential campaign, the most politically potent move for him could be to continue provoking the existence of security footage without ever making it public.
It would be a familiar strategy for Trump, who routinely promised to provide evidence when faced with allegations of sexual harassment during his 2016 presidential campaign but rarely delivered.
Trump has already pressed to release the warrant that prompted FBI agents to search his Palm Beach property last week and the list of items they seized while on the property — both were opened at the request of the DOJ.
The former president also urged Judge Bruce Reinhart to release the statement that was instrumental in federal agents obtaining a search warrant in Mar-a-Lago.
Writing in Truth Social, Trump said, “In the interests of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely unwritten statement regarding this horrific and shocking break-in.”
This week, the Justice Department said it opposed the press’s request to open the deposition, arguing that it could compromise its ongoing investigation and discourage future witnesses from cooperating.
Source: CNN Brasil