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Donald Trump allies divided over releasing Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage: ‘I don’t see how that helps him’


Former US president Donald Trump. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

Former US president Donald Trump. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

Former US president Donald Trump. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File

Some aides to Donald Trump are reportedly puzzled by the eagerness of Donald Trump and his inner circle to release private security camera footage from the hours-long raid of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI.

His son Eric Trump pledged “absolutely” to do so “at the right time” in an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Monday.

In interviews with CNN, some privately speculated that the video, which could easily be taken by Democratic operatives and used in campaign ads, could do more harm than good unless there’s clear evidence on film of FBI agents committing some kind of unseemly act.

"It's one thing to read a bunch of numbers on an inventory list, it's another to see law enforcement agents actually carrying a dozen-plus boxes out of President Trump's home knowing they probably contain sensitive documents. I don't see how that helps him," someone described by CNN as “close to Trump” told the network.

Ty Cobb, Mr Trump’s former attorney, speculated that there was no such evidence of wrongdoing on the tapes.

"If anything problematic happened, like it showed somebody planting evidence or something like that, then it would be really explosive," he told the network. "That's the main reason I doubt they will make it public, because I'm sure it doesn't show them planting evidence and it takes that crazy claim off the table."

A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to begin redactions of the affidavit leading to the search warrant of Donald Trump’s residence on Thursday, a major step towards a potential release of the document that would lead to significant clues about exactly what federal officials were searching for when they executed the warrant last Monday.

The agency is known to be investigating the alleged illegal retention of classified materials, but it’s not clear as of now what means. It’s not known how the materials were being stored, or what their contents were.

The president’s team has reportedly been battling with the National Archives, which controls all presidential records once an administration leaves office, over the documents for months.

Mr Trump has shown little to no understanding of the need to go through the federal records agency to obtain documents for his personal use, as every president in history has done before him.

At the same time, he has lambasted his predecessor, Barack Obama, for obtaining documents for his own presidential library project and falsely accused him of wrongdoing in the matter.

His former national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday pointed out the ex-president’s apparent lack of understanding of the law in a gaggle with reporters, remarking that Mr Trump could have just used the proper channels to obtain most if not all of the documents he desired.

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“Look ... normal administrations, of which that was not one ... make provisions for them to be able to access documents that they used or came across,” said Mr Bolton in response to a question from The Independent.

“There are any number of ways to do it, that would allow for classified documents to be accessed by a former president under conditions of security.”

“He didn’t need to sneak it out of the White House,” added the former White House aide. “From all we can tell, he never made any effort to ask. And I think that’s part of the problem.”

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