The FBI raided Mar-A-Lago as it executed a search warrant on the property on Monday, Donald Trump said.
It is unclear exactly why the FBI obtained the search warrant, but The New York Times reported that it was related to an investigation of boxes of classified material that were brought to Mar-A-Lago after Trump’s presidency ended, rather than turned over the National Archives.
The raid also comes as the Justice Department has been investigating Trump’s conduct related to January 6th, The Washington Post reported last month.
The news of the search warrant on a former president, believed to be unprecedented, quickly dominated coverage on cable news. Typically, for a judge to sign off on a search warrant, there has to be probable cause that a crime was committed, senior legal analyst Elie Honig said on CNN. The network reported that the agents arrived on Monday morning and remained there for several hours.
Trump said in a statement, “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
He said that “after working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”
Trump railed against the FBI action, while claiming that “they even broke into my safe.”
“What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democratic National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States.”
Fox News commentators echoed Trump’s attacks on the FBI’s action as politically motivated, even though the current director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by him.
Earlier on Monday, Axios published photos of toilets with torn up messages in the bowl. The pictures were obtained by The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, whose upcoming book will include a detail that White House staff sometimes found the wads of paper in the toilet, believed to be thrown in there by Trump.
The Times and other outlets have reported on an ongoing investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents. The National Archives discovered in January that 15 boxes of documents were taken to Mar-A-Lago. After they were returned, archivists “identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes,” David Ferriero, archivist of the United States wrote in a letter to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) earlier this year.
There have been indications that the Justice Department has been ramping up its investigation of January 6th and the role of Trump and his key advisers. Prosecutors reportedly have been questioning witnesses before a Grand Jury, including some figures who have appeared before the January 6th Committee.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, declined to comment on the search warrant, telling the host that he wanted to wait until more facts were known.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blasted the Justice Department, accusing it of reaching “an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.” He said that “when Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts and leave no stone unturned. Attorney General [Merrick] Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
Update: Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the White House learned of the search warrant “just like the public did yesterday and we did not have advance notice of this activity.”
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