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After 03:20 in CNN's January 22, 2023 Brown presses GOP House Intelligence chair on Trump documents US Representative Mike Turner (R-OH) says the following:

The concern we all have, is the abuse of power that was done by the Biden administration, where they raided his home. Now you know, they didn't just take classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, here are the pages of the filing by the Biden administration, they even walked out with his - Trump's passport.

Now you could be an intern at the FBI and you'd know that Trump's passport is not a classified document.

Of course digging through boxes and implementing an item-by-item disposition was not on the FBI agents' to-do list that day, the potential presence of classified material made that impossible in real time. Instead, this would likely take place at and/or by the US National Archives.

But my question is specifically about the passport of the former US president.

Question(s):

  1. Did the FBI physically seize the former US President's current (at the time) passport?
  2. If so, how long did they hold it, and when did they return it (assuming they did)?
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  • 3
    Trump actually has 3 passports, so it's a bit of a trick question.
    – dandavis
    Jan 22, 2023 at 9:12
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    he has a blue one like everyone does, a black one (diplomatic) from his first year out of office, and a third one of unknown quality, perhaps a maroon one used for officials w/o diplomatic capacities or an old expired blue one. We know they took 3, he could have even more...
    – dandavis
    Jan 22, 2023 at 9:17
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    @uhoh It certainly was intentional. The FBI wanted evidence that showed that Trump himself had taken those documents he allegedly shouldn't have taken. This happens frequently, where people commingle allegedly damning documents with documents of a very personal nature such as a passport. The existence of that commingling shows the person almost certainly knew about the allegedly damning evidence. Otherwise they could claim that they were clueless; the presence of the damning documents was the work of a minion. Jan 22, 2023 at 9:33
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    @uhoh Note that the warrant specifically authorized the seizure of commingled documents: "any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers / boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located” (emphasis mine). This is for the precise reason that David Hammen explained: the documents commingled with the classified documents are themselves evidence of improper handling, and by whom. Jan 22, 2023 at 22:12
  • @DavidHammen I've deleted the "intentional" quote, which referred to the idea that my question might have been a "trick question" (due to there being more than one passport) and did not refer to to the FBI in any way.
    – uhoh
    Jan 22, 2023 at 22:17

2 Answers 2

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Yes, the passports were located in a drawer where classified documents were stored and taken under the terms of the search warrant.

About a week after the search, investigators contacted Trump's lawyers saying they had the passports and were returning them. I don't know what the specific date of their return was but they were returned by August 15th:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna45726 includes a quote from a DoJ legal filing:

The other documents included two official passports, one of which was expired, and one personal passport, which was expired

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna43192 mentions that the documents were returned by Aug 15th.

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I'm making my comment into an answer that augments the answer by Bryan Krause. In a comment to the question, a member stated that

Trump actually has 3 passports, so it's a bit of a trick question.

The questioner replied in a comment

Really? It certainly wasn't intentional; I was just following the congressman's singular "Trump's passport" reference. Can you elaborate?

As comments are ephemeral, I'm making my reply into an answer. It most certainly was intentional. The FBI wanted evidence that showed that Trump himself had taken those documents he allegedly shouldn't have taken.

This happens frequently with FBI document raids (and also with other government agency document raids, whether local, state, or federal), and it is very intentional. The raiding organization wants very much to show that the person of interest personally knew of the allegedly damning evidence found during the raid. That people commingled allegedly damning documents with documents of a very personal nature such as a passport, family photos, etc., is a sign of such personal knowledge. The existence of that commingling shows the person almost certainly knew about the allegedly damning evidence. Otherwise the person of interest could claim that they were clueless of the alleged crime: The crime, if any, must have been committed by minions, and the presence of the allegedly damning documents must have been the work of minions.

As shown in Bryan Krause's answer, the FBI did seize and later returned the passports. Presumably they did this after they preserved evidence of the commingling, and presumably after they had presented that evidence to a grand jury. After that, the FBI no longer needed to continue to hold the seized passports as evidence.

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  • I see why the FBI would want to raid the passports along the classified documents, as incriminating evidence. But, this draws the question: why would the passports be stored in the same place as the documents he should not be possessing? It's almost as if placed together on purpose to show who had stole them. Maybe, if the container was a safe box, it would make sense for passports to also be stored there, but a drawer??
    – Ángel
    Jan 23, 2023 at 2:44
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    @Ángel - I keep my passport in my desk drawer, and my desk is covered in papers and old bills. I don't have any access to classified documents, but if I did and I weren't particularly careful about them they'd probably end up in the mess on my desk as well. If I actually had to clean off my desk top in a hurry, I'd probably shove a bunch of it into that same drawer. Some people just take less care with important documents than others.
    – Bobson
    Jan 23, 2023 at 7:24
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    @Ángel I suspect you're young, meaning less than 40 years old or so. People over 60 tend to have messy desks, cluttered with paper. The concept of a paper-free work environment is abhorrent to older workers. (Trump, Biden, and many members of Congress fall into the "extremely old worker" category.) People under 40 tend to have immaculately clean desks. The concept of a paper-free work environment is very appealing to younger workers. It's a mixed bag with people in the 40 to 60 years old range. At least that's my experience; others may vary. But from what I've read, it's nearly universal. Jan 23, 2023 at 9:08
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    @Bobson If you did have a clearance you would have been trained on a yearly basis to not have a messy desk. Whenever you go take a bathroom break, go elsewhere to a meeting, go to the cafeteria or to a restaurant for lunch, or leave work for the day, your desk should be immaculate. At a minimum, that means stuffing all of the papers on your messy desk in a file cabinet and locking the cabinet. I suspect presidents, vice presidents, and congress members don't receive this annual training, and if they do, they don't pay attention to it. Jan 23, 2023 at 13:32
  • @Bobson A messy desk screams "treasure trove!!!" to the mole planted by some enemy state amongst your coworkers or planted into the nighttime cleaning staff. Loose lips sink ships, and a messy desk costs lives. Jan 23, 2023 at 13:34

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