Trump says FBI conducted search of his Mar-a-Lago property


The FBI has searched former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he brought classified White House records to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Trump disclosed the action in a lengthy statement, saying agents had broken into his safe in a search he denounced as evidence of “dark times for our nation.”

The search, which was not immediately confirmed by the FBI and the US Justice Department, marks a dramatic escalation in police scrutiny of Trump and comes amid a separate but intensifying investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Trump and his allies immediately sought to frame the search as part of a Democratic-driven effort to prevent him from winning another term in 2024, despite the Biden White House saying it had no prior knowledge of it and the current FBI director Christopher Wray. , was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a senior official in a Republican-led Justice Department.

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

He added: “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. It happened to a President of the United States before”.

Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, even if Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search.

Trump did not elaborate on the basis for the search, but the Justice Department has been investigating possible mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it had recovered from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of records containing classified information earlier this year. year.

The National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department. Trump has previously maintained that the presidential records were released “in an ordinary and routine process.”

There are several federal laws that govern the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain it in an unauthorized location.

Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search was conducted early Monday and confirmed agents were also looking to see if Trump had any additional presidential records or classified documents at the estate.

Although a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials seeking to obtain one must first prove to a judge that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.

In his first public comments since news of the search broke, Trump made no mention of it Monday night during a televised town hall on behalf of Leora Levy, the Connecticut Republican he endorsed in the US Senate primary. Tuesday to choose an opponent in the general election. US Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. Trump gave his public endorsement of Levy late last week, calling her the best choice on Monday “to replace the Connecticut senator joke.”

But in a social media post Monday night, he was far more unprepared, calling the pursuit “arming the justice system and attacking radical left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for president in 2024.” .

During the 2016 presidential election, Trump tried to exploit an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information through a private email server she used as secretary of state. Then-FBI Director James Comey concluded that Clinton had sent and received classified information, but the FBI did not recommend criminal charges because it determined that Clinton did not intend to break the law.

Trump criticized that decision, then stepped up his criticism of the FBI when agents began investigating whether his campaign had colluded with Russia to tip the 2016 election. He fired Comey during that investigation, and though he named Wray months later, he also criticized him. routinely while he was still president.

The investigation is not the only legal headache facing Trump. A separate investigation related to efforts by Trump and his allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election, which led to the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol, has also escalated in Washington.

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


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Meg Kinnard contributed to this report.

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