According to Trump, the FBI searched the Mar-a-Lago estate
According to people familiar with the matter, the FBI searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of its investigation into whether he took classified documents from the White House to his Florida estate.
This represents a dramatic and unprecedented increase in law enforcement scrutiny of the former president. In his lengthy statement, Trump claimed that agents had opened a safe at his home and described their work as "unannounced" and likened it to “prosecutorial misconduct.”
More than a dozen boxes found at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year contained classified documents resulting in a months-long investigation. While Trump lays the groundwork for another run for president, it comes amid a separate grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A familiar battle line, forged over a four-year presidency shadowed by FBI and congressional investigations, took shape again Monday night.
Even though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge of the search, Trump and his allies portrayed it as a Democratic effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 and attempted to portray the search as weaponizing the criminal justice system and a Democratic effort to keep him from winning another term.
As a high-ranking official in a Republican-led Justice Department, Christopher Wray was appointed five years ago by Trump."These are dark times for our nation, as Mar-A-Lago, my beautiful home, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large number of FBI agents," Trump wrote.
Until now, no President of the United States has ever experienced anything like this. The unannounced raid on Trump's home was not necessary or appropriate, the president said in a statement.
In her response to a question about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland personally authorized the search, Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment.
Trump did not elaborate on the basis for the search, but the Justice Department has been investigating potential mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said earlier this year that 15 boxes containing classified information had been retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.
It asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump's failure to turn over this material upon leaving office. Classified records and sensitive government documents are subject to multiple federal laws, including statutes making it a crime to remove them and keep them somewhere unauthorized.
It is not necessary to prove to a judge that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed to obtain a search warrant. Two people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search occurred earlier Monday.
The agents were also looking for any additional presidential records or classified documents on Trump's estate. Trump previously claimed that presidential records were turned over "straightforwardly and routinely.
He was accompanied by his son Eric on Fox News on Monday night, who said the search was carried out by the National Archives to verify whether Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.
In response to a question about how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago, Eric Trump said they were among items moved from the White House during the Bidens' inauguration preparations.
Eric Trump said his father always saved press clippings. His boxes from the White House were there when he moved out. Just before 8 p.m., Trump emerged from Trump Tower in New York City in an SUV and waved to bystanders.
In his first public remarks since news of the search surfaced, Trump made no mention of it during a Steeltown hall on behalf of Leora Levy, a Connecticut Republican whom he has endorsed to run for the U.S. Senate against Democratic U.S. Sen.
Richard Blumenthal. The president endorsed Levy late last week, calling her on Monday "the best choice to replace Connecticut's joke of a senator."A social media post he made Monday night was much less guarded, calling the search a "weaponization of the justice system" and an attempt by Radical Left Democrats to derail his presidential campaign.
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Republicans echoed that sentiment. Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chair, called the search "outrageous" and called on voters to turn out in November. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2024, called it "an escalation in the weaponization" of government agencies.
As the House Minority Leader tweeted, the Justice Department "has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization" and if Republicans win control of Congress, the Justice Department will be investigated
Trump's involvement in a classified information probe is particularly striking given the fact that he manipulated an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election to gain access to classified information through a private email server she used while secretary of state.
According to Jim Comey, the FBI determined that Clinton had not intended to break the law when she sent and received classified information. However, the FBI did not recommend criminal charges against her since she did not intend to send or receive classified information.
Trump lambasted that decision and then stepped up his criticism of the FBI as agents investigated whether his campaign had colluded with Russia. Despite appointing Wray months later, he repeatedly criticized him as president, as well as fired Comey during that investigation.
Former presidents have never been subjected to FBI raids before, even during Watergate, according to Vanderbilt University history professor Thomas Schwartz. According to Schwartz, Richard Nixon was not allowed to take tapes from the White House when he resigned in 1974, and many of his papers were kept in Washington for years before being transferred to his presidential library.
The Trump period was unique,” Schwartz said, author of “Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography.” “His behavior was so unusual.”Trump has several legal headaches besides the probe. An investigation into Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election — which led to the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, in the Capitol — is also intensifying in Washington.
Several former White House officials have been subpoenaed by grand juries. An investigation is underway in Fulton County, Georgia, into whether Trump and his close associates interfered with Joe Biden's election in that state.