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A guide to the Mar-a-Lago search fallout: Yahoo News Explains

In early August, the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida country club owned by former President Donald Trump and his primary residence since leaving the White House. In the weeks since, we’ve learned a lot about what happened and why. As the search for a third-party special master to review the potentially sensitive materials seized at Mar-a-Lago begins and new reporting points to alleged nuclear secrets contained in them, Yahoo News explains where things stand and what to expect next.

Video transcript


- An unprecedented chapter in US history.

- This is unprecedented.

KEN DILANIAN: Unprecedented.

RICK SCOTT: Unprecedented.

- A former president's home is the subject of a subpoena and search by the FBI.

- The FBI raided the former president's Florida home, Mar-A-Lago.

- Some of the nation's most secret documents are found inside.

- Classified information was taken and not handled appropriately.

- The search, unprecedented.

- The word that comes to mind is unprecedented.

- But so are the alleged actions of a former commander in chief.

RACHEL MADDOW: Nothing like this has ever happened before. And we don't know how this ends.

- Every new detail about the FBI search of Mar-A-Lago raises new questions. So here's where things stand now. In early August, the FBI executed a search warrant of Mar-A-Lago, a Country Club owned by former President Donald Trump and his primary residence since leaving the White House.

In the weeks since, we've learned a lot about what happened and why, mostly through heavily redacted documents released by the Justice Department, the search warrant, which revealed three potential crimes officers were seeking evidence of, an inventory list of the items removed, including multiple boxes of documents, some marked as top secret and TS/SCI, or Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information, and an affidavit, which laid out the probable cause to initiate the search.

And while all that is, again, heavily redacted, it's all available to the public. But independent reporting has revealed even more salacious details.

A few days after the search, the Washington Post pointed to possible nuclear secrets within the seized documents and then reported that those documents may be related to a foreign power's nuclear arsenal.

- The Post adding some of the seized documents detail top secret US operations, so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.

- So what's next? As for the investigation going forward, well, right now it's hit a bit of a speed bump. A federal judge granted a request from the former president's legal team to appoint a special master, in other words, an independent third party with special clearance to review highly sensitive materials and handle claims of executive or attorney client privilege.

And whoever this person ends up being needs to be agreed upon by both sides before they can get to work.

PETER SHANE: It may be that looking for someone who enjoys the confidence of both sides at this point is looking for a unicorn.

- The judge also ordered that the Justice Department halt its own review as that process gets underway.

ERIC TUCKER: That means the DOJ can do certain investigative work but it can no longer inspect or review the documents until basically the judge says so.

- That decision has come under heavy criticism, even from Trump's own former attorney general.

BILL BARR: The opinion, I think, was wrong. And I think the government should appeal it. It's deeply flawed in a number of ways.

- If charges are brought against Trump, there could be major political and national security implications. As this story develops, Yahoo News will have the latest.