FBI returns passports that Trump claims were stolen during raid

Secret service agents stand at the gate of Mar-a-Lago after the FBI issued warrants at August 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Fla.
Secret service agents stand at the gate of Mar-a-Lago after the FBI issued warrants at August 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Fla. Photo credit USA TODAY NETWORK/Imagn Content Services

After being called out by former President Donald Trump, the FBI has returned passports that were taken during the search of his Florida estate.

Trump revealed the news on Truth Social, claiming agents stole his three passports during the search at Mar-a-Lago.

"Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World," he wrote in a post Monday afternoon.

Passports are typically seized by authorities when a subject of an investigation is deemed a "flight risk," but it's not clear if that applies in this situation as the FBI and Justice Department have not given much information on what agents seized from the property.

Hours after Trump's posting, spokesperson Taylor Budowich shared a screenshot on Twitter of an email from an official in the Department of Justice, who confirmed that the passports had been taken and would be returned.

"We have learned that filter agents seized three passports belonging to President Trump, two expired and one being his active diplomatic passport. We are returning them, and they will be ready for pickup at WFO at 2 pm today," the email said.

The email was timestamped several hours before Trump's accusation on Truth Social, though it's unclear if he or his team saw the email beforehand.

A law enforcement source confirmed to CBS News that the passports were returned to Trump. According to the report, the passports were taken by a "filter team," who screen seized materials for privileged or extraneous information. The FBI also said in a statement to CBS that it "follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts, then returns items that we do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes."

The FBI raided Trump's residence to recover documents the former president had taken when he left office. According to the New York Times, the FBI seized 11 documents during the raid, including some marked as classified or top secret.

The Washington Post reported that "classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items F.B.I. agents sought," citing unnamed people familiar with the investigation. Representatives from Trump, the Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment.

According to POLITICO, the former president is being investigated for removal or destruction of records and obstruction of justice.