STORY: FBI documents unsealed on Friday showed federal agents who searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida this week removed 11 sets of classified documents including some marked as top secret.
The bombshell disclosures were made in legal documents released four days after the FBI carried out the search of Trump's residence based on a warrant approved by a federal magistrate judge.
The Justice Department told U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in its warrant application that it had probable cause to believe that Trump violated the Espionage Act, a federal law that prohibits the possession or transmission of national defense information.
"This is very serious."
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, on Friday said that mishandling classified materials was matter of national security.
"There are laws against the improper handling of this material."
Earlier on Friday, Trump denied a Washington Post report that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home was for possible classified materials related to nuclear weapons, calling the story "a hoax."
Reuters could not immediately confirm the Washington Post report. Attorney General Merrick Garland has declined to publicly detail the nature of the investigation.
Trump loyalists have echoed the president's allegations that the FBI search was politically motivated.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik on Friday decried what she called:
"Joe Biden and his administration's weaponization of the Department of Justice and FBI against Joe Biden's political opponent."
Trump's allies have presented no evidence that the search was politically motivated, and the White House maintains that Biden was not informed of the search ahead of time.
The reported revelations that Trump had documents labeled "top secret" could create major legal jeopardy for him.
Numerous federal laws prohibit the mishandling of classified material, including the Espionage Act. Trump increased the penalties for the unauthorized removal or retention of such material while he was in office, making it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.