Trump says FBI is conducting search of Mar-a-Lago estate


WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI searched Donald Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago as part of an investigation into whether he took classified White House files to his residence in Florida, officials said. Monday of people familiar with the matter, a decision that represents a dramatic change. and an unprecedented escalation of law enforcement control over the former president.

Trump, revealing the search in a lengthy statement, claimed officers opened a safe at his home and described their work as an “unannounced raid” which he likened to “prosecution misconduct”.

The search intensifies the months-long investigation into how classified documents ended up in White House file boxes located in Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. It comes amid a separate grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and adds to potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another race.

Familiar battle lines, forged during a four-year presidency in the shadow of FBI and congressional investigations, quickly took shape Monday night. Trump and his allies have sought to cast the raid as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-led effort to prevent him from winning another term in 2024 — even though Biden’s White House has said it won’t. ‘had no prior knowledge of it, and the current FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a top official in a Republican-led Justice Department.

“These are dark times for our nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently besieged, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump wrote. “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”

“After working and cooperating with the appropriate government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was neither necessary nor appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.

Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including whether Attorney General Merrick Garland personally authorized it.

Trump did not specify the basis of the search, but the Justice Department investigated potential mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it received from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of White House files, including documents. containing classified information, earlier this year. The National Archives said Trump should have turned over the material when he left office and asked the Justice Department to investigate.

There are several federal laws governing the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including laws that make it a crime to remove such documents and store them in an unauthorized location. Although a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials seeking one must first demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause for a crime to occur. is produced.

Two people familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search took place earlier on Monday and was related to the investigation into the cases. Agents were also looking to see if Trump had any additional presidential files or classified documents in the area.

Trump has previously maintained that the presidential records were turned over “in an ordinary, routine process.” His son Eric told Fox News Monday night that he spent the day with his father and that the search took place because “the National Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.”

Asked how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago, Eric Trump said the boxes were among the items that were moved out of the White House for “six hours” on Inauguration Day, so that the Bidens were preparing to move into the building.

“My dad always kept clippings,” Eric Trump said. “He had boxes when he left the White House.”

Trump emerged from Trump Tower in New York City shortly before 8 p.m. and waved to passers-by before being chased away in an SUV.

In his first public remarks since news of the search surfaced, Trump made no mention of it during a town hall telecast on behalf of Leora Levy, the Connecticut Republican he endorsed in the primary. of the United States Senate on Tuesday to choose an opponent in the general election against the American Democrats. Senator Richard Blumenthal. Trump gave Levy his public support late last week, calling her Monday the best choice “to replace a Connecticut senator’s joke.”

But in a social media post on Monday night, he was much more reckless, calling the research “a militarization of the justice system and an attack on radical left-wing Democrats who desperately don’t want me running for president in 2024.” .

Other Republicans echoed that message. GOP National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel denounced the research as “outrageous” and said it was a reason voters turned out in November.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, said in a statement on Twitter that this was “an escalation in the militarization” of US government agencies. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, said in a tweet that the Justice Department “has reached an intolerable state of militarized politicization” and said that if Republicans take control of the U.S. House , they will investigate the department.

That Trump is entangled in an investigation into the handling of classified information is all the more striking given that he tried, during the 2016 presidential election, to exploit an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, to find out if she had mishandled classified information through a private network. mail server she used as Secretary of State. Then-FBI Director James Comey concluded that Clinton sent and received classified information, but the FBI did not recommend criminal prosecution because he determined Clinton did not intend to break the law.

Trump blasted the move, then stepped up his criticism of the FBI as agents began investigating whether his campaign colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 election. He fired Comey during that investigation, and although he appointed Wray months later, he also repeatedly criticized him as president.

Thomas Schwartz, a history professor at Vanderbilt University who studies and writes about the presidency, said there was no precedent for a former president facing an FBI raid — even going back to Watergate. President Richard Nixon was not allowed to take tapes or other documents from the White House when he resigned in 1974, Schwartz noted, and many of his papers remained in Washington for years before leaving. be transferred to his presidential library in California.

“It’s different and it’s a sign of the uniqueness of the Trump period,” said Schwartz, author of “Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography.” “How his behavior was so unusual.”

The investigation isn’t the only legal headache Trump faces. A separate investigation linked to efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election – which led to the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol – has also intensified in Washington. Several former White House officials have received grand jury subpoenas.

And a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is investigating whether Trump and his close aides sought to interfere in that state’s election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Meg Kinnard, Michelle L. Price and Will Weissert contributed to this report.


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