Unsealed documents reveal new details from search of Trump’s home | Donald Trump News

The FBI says it seized empty folders with classified banners and top secret documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

FBI agents found dozens of folders with “classified” banners, some of which were empty, at former US President Donald Trump’s Florida home when they searched it last month, an unsealed inventory of the recovered materials shows.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon made more documents about the search public on Friday, revealing that the FBI recovered 18 records marked as “top secret” during the August 8 search. Agents also seized more than 10,000 government records without any classification markings.

The detailed inventory also showed that 43 empty folders with classified banners were taken from a box or container at an office at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. Similar folders were also found in a storage room.

The folders with classified markings and secret documents were found in boxes or containers that also contained non-official material, including magazines, newspapers and books.

Trump court documents
Pages from an FBI property list of items seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate [Jon Elswick/AP Photo]

The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Trump’s possible mishandling of classified information after leaving office.

An affidavit released last week revealed that United States authorities sought to search the former president’s home to retrieve secret government documents, including materials possibly containing “National Defense Information”.

In a court filing accompanying the detailed inventory, dated August 30, the Justice Department said it examined every item seized from Trump’s home – other than potentially privileged documents – but is still reviewing the materials.

“The seized materials will continue to be used to further the government’s investigation, and the investigative team will continue to use and evaluate the seized materials as it takes further investigative steps, such as through additional witness interviews and grand jury practice,” the filings read.

It added that the evidence “will inform the government’s investigation”.

The release of the detailed inventory comes as Cannon considers granting Trump’s request to appoint a neutral “special master” to oversee the review of documents taken during the Mar-a-Lago search for materials that may contain lawyer-client privileged information.

In the August 30 court filing released on Friday, the Justice Department said the “investigative team has been and will be continually mindful of the potential for attorney-client privilege issues and the filter protocols contained in the search warrant”.

The Justice Department said earlier this week that it identified a “limited” number of such documents.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is also reviewing the classification and potential national security risk of documents seized in the search.

The search of Mar-a-Lago spurred a firestorm of Republican criticism against the FBI and the Department of Justice, with several GOP lawmakers accusing the Biden administration without evidence of investigating Trump for political reasons.

President Joe Biden has denied having prior knowledge of the search and insisted that the White House does not interfere in Justice Department-led investigations.

Trump also claims that he declassified the documents before leaving office in early 2021.

Frustrated Turks slam increased European Schengen visa rejections | News

Firat Elmas did not anticipate any problems when he applied for a Schengen visa to visit Germany in June.

The 37-year-old Turk, who lives in the western city of Izmir and was working for the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) when he applied for the visa, regularly travels across Europe and has a stable and comfortable lifestyle at home.

And yet, Elmas was shocked to find his tourist visa application had been rejected, because, for reasons unknown to him, he had been deemed at risk of not returning to Turkey.

“I have travelled to more than 20 countries, predominantly in the Schengen area and studied at master’s level both in the United States and the United Kingdom. I never had such an experience,” Elmas told Al Jazeera.

His experience is not unique – in fact, frustration is growing among Turks amid a rapid increase in reported Schengen visa rejections over the last few years for citizens trying to travel to Europe.

Schengen is a blanket visa for 26 European countries, the majority of them members of the European Union, that have agreed to issue a common visa for foreign travellers.

In a study presented in July to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a body that consists of MPs from member countries, Ankara said that the denial of Schengen visas for Turks has increased from four percent of applications in 2014 to 12.7 percent in 2020.

The percentage of rejections of Schengen visa applications from Turkey was almost 17 percent in 2021, according to data from schengenvisainfo.com, further highlighting the increase compared with recent years.

The report presented to PACE also claimed that EU member states ask for too many unnecessary documents from applicants, that the visa application fee is too expensive and that visas issued are for an increasingly short period, among other complaints.

Rejections are becoming increasingly common among financially secure Turkish citizens with careers, according to applicants who talked to Al Jazeera, as well as scores of others who shared their experiences on social media in recent months.

Elmas said that he had been working for the Ukraine branch of the OSCE until July, received a monthly salary of 3,750 euros, and was based in Turkey due to the war in Ukraine. He owns a house in Izmir, as well as a luxury car.

“It was obvious that I was going to return to Turkey. My financial status and previous track record clearly shows that,” said Elmas, who had also worked for the UN Refugee Agency in the past.

A Schengen visa costs approximately 100 dollars or euros, including third-party visa processing company fees used by most Schengen countries to pre-assess applications.

The fees correspond to about one-third of the minimum wage in Turkey and are non-refundable.

In addition to the rising percentage of Schengen visa rejections, the application process for Turks now takes much longer to complete compared with the recent past.

Applicants say it has taken several months for visas to be issued in some cases, leaving them without their passports for extended periods.

“My application in June took more than nine weeks to be processed before I got the result,” Elmas said.

‘Planned and deliberate’

Ahmet, another Turkish citizen who has a company and residence permit in the United Kingdom, told Al Jazeera that his visa application to participate in a business fair in Germany was rejected despite having an invitation letter from the event.

“I am a permanent resident of Britain for the last four years. My company had a turnover of 250,000 British pounds ($280,000) in 2021 and 500,000 pounds in the first half of 2022,” Ahmet said.

Similar to Elmas, Ahmet, who did not want to share his last name, said his application was rejected because “he might not return”, despite submitting all the necessary documents.

“So they think I will leave my four-year residence in the UK to move to Germany illegally?” he asked.

Last month, Ankara promised to take action if Turkish citizens continued to face difficulties in acquiring visas for the EU and the US.

“It is planned and deliberate,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, adding that Ankara believed the increase in rejections was aimed at putting the government in a difficult position ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for June 2023.

Cavusolgu said that Schengen-area countries would be warned in September, adding: “If there is no improvement, then we will take countermeasures.”

However, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the EU delegation to Turkey, said that the Schengen visa process was not a political issue, and added that each visa application is evaluated objectively, carefully and on an individual basis.

“Consulates are doing whatever they can to minimise delays and increase their capacity,” Meyer-Landrut told Al Jazeera.

“However, they have to implement the regulations of the EU as well as their own countries,” the diplomat added, advising applicants to make “good quality and timely” applications to avoid rejections.