PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug 8 (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump said FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday and broke into his safe, which his son admitted as part of an investigation into Trump’s impeachment from the official presidency. White House records at his Florida compound.
The unprecedented search of a former president’s home would mark a significant escalation in the investigation into the records, which is one of many investigations Trump has faced since his tenure and in private matters. Read more
The US Department of Justice declined to comment on the search, which Trump in a statement called a raid and said it involved a “large group of FBI agents.” FBI headquarters in Washington and its field office in Miami both declined to comment.
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Eric Trump, one of the former president’s adult children, told Fox News the search involved boxes of documents Trump brought with him from the White House, and that his father is cooperating with the National Archives on the search. question for months.
A source familiar with the matter also confirmed to Reuters that the raid appeared to be linked to Trump’s removal of classified White House documents.
Trump said the estate “is currently besieged, raided and occupied.” He did not say why the raid took place.
“After working and cooperating with the appropriate government agencies, this unexpected raid on my home was neither necessary nor appropriate,” Trump said, adding, “They even broke into my safe!”
Trump was not present at the time as he was in New York on Monday, Fox News Digital reported, posting a photo of Trump that a Fox reporter said showed him leaving Trump Tower.
Trump, who has called his Palm Beach club home since leaving the White House in January 2021, has typically spent summers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, as Mar-a-Lago typically closes for the weekend. summer.
A federal law called the US Presidential Records Act requires the retention of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes, and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.
Any search of a private residence should be approved by a judge, after the investigating law enforcement agency has demonstrated that a search is warranted.
He would almost certainly also be endorsed by FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, and his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by Trump’s successor and political rival, President Joe Biden.
Biden’s Democratic supporters have criticized Garland for being too cautious in investigating Trump over his attempts to reverse his 2020 election loss to Biden. A White House official said Biden was not given advance notice of the research and referred questions to the Justice Department.
“Make no mistake, the attorney general had to authorize this,” said Phillip Halpern, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in public corruption cases, adding that Wray and a host of prosecutors would also be involved.
“That’s a big deal you can have, and…every person on the channel should have approved of that,” Halpern said.
Trump supporters have accused Democrats of arming the federal bureaucracy to target Trump, even as Biden has tried to distance himself from the Justice Department.
In February, Archivist David Ferriero told US House lawmakers that the National Archives and Records Administration had been in communication with Trump throughout 2021 about the return of 15 boxes of documents. He finally returned them in January 2022.
At the time, the National Archives was still conducting an inventory, but noted that some of the boxes contained items “marked as classified national security information”.
Trump had previously confirmed that he had agreed to return certain documents to the Archives, calling it an “ordinary and routine process.” He also claimed that the Archives “didn’t ‘find’ anything”.
The Justice Department has launched a preliminary investigation into Trump’s removal of files from the Florida estate, a source familiar with the matter said in April. Read more
Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, said he only removed souvenirs he was legally allowed to take.
“Listen, my father-in-law, as everyone knows, is very fond of keeping things like newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, photographs, documents that he had full authority to take to the White House,” Lara Trump told Fox News. .
Several dozen Trump supporters gathered near Mar-a-Lago, a short walk from the ocean, and where several men stood guard next to a dark SUV. Police cars parked in the street, lights flashing, as officers directed traffic and directed onlookers away from gates.
Trump supporters honked and played music from their cars as some waved Trump flags or American flags.
“It’s another unfair thing like made-up impeachment hoaxes,” said Jim Whelan, 59, who works in advertising. He was holding a large sign that read “Fake News is CNN”.
Trump supporters were apparently expecting him to arrive, as an officer announced through a bullhorn: “Trump is not returning to Mar-a-Lago tonight. His trip has been cancelled.”
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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Brian Ellsworth in Palm Beach; Additional reporting by Eric and Steve Holland in Washington; Written by Daniel Trotta and Rami Ayyub; Editing by Mary Milliken, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry
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