The former president confirmed that FBI agents were at Mar-a-Lago and said “they even broke into my safe.” He was at Trump Tower in New York when the search warrant was executed in Florida, a person familiar told CNN.
“My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently besieged, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in a statement late Monday.
The extraordinary decision to search the home of a former president raises the stakes for the Justice Department and comes as Trump’s legal troubles continue on multiple fronts. Trump is also expected to announce in the coming months that he will launch another White House bid in 2024.
The search began early Monday morning and law enforcement appeared to be focused on the area of the club where Trump’s offices and personal quarters are located, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The FBI search included examining where the documents were kept, according to another person familiar with the investigation, and boxes of items were taken. Following the National Archives’ retrieval of the White House archives from Mar-a-Lago in recent months, the FBI had to verify on Monday that nothing had been overlooked.
Christina Bobb, Trump’s lawyer, said the FBI seized documents. “President Trump and his legal team cooperated with FBI and DOJ officials every step of the way. The FBI conducted an unannounced raid and seized paper,” Bobb said.
The search plans at Mar-a-Lago have reportedly been reviewed by the highest levels of the FBI and the Justice Department.
CNN has contacted the FBI for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment to CNN. A White House official said he was not informed of the search.
Three sources familiar with the trip confirmed to CNN that investigators have traveled to Mar-a-Lago in recent months to speak with Trump’s attorneys about documents taken from his time in the White House. Trump was present at Mar-a-Lago during the visit, the sources said.
Trump’s lawyers showed documents to investigators at the time, although it’s unclear which ones and how many, one of the sources said.
In April and May, Trump aides at Mar-a-Lago were interviewed by the FBI as part of the investigation into the handling of presidential records, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The FBI had to verify on Monday that nothing was left, according to the person familiar with the investigation.
“It’s a federal crime to remove wrongfully classified documents. And so if you fill out this affidavit and you have to list the crime, you can list it as the crime,” said Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor and State and a CNN Senior Legal Analyst.
Honig told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” that the timing of the search stood with the department’s longstanding rule not to execute politically sensitive moves within 90 days of an election.
“Today is about 90 days exactly from half term, I think maybe 91 or 92 days. This policy, maybe that’s a reason why they did it today because they want to stay away if they interpret this as a 90 day rule,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.