Trump says the FBI is conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago property


Former US President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago property and claimed agents had broken into a safe. A person familiar with the matter said the action was related to an investigation into whether Trump had brought classified records from his White House tenure to his Florida residence.

The action, which the FBI and Justice Department did not immediately confirm, marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes as he has been laying the groundwork for another run for president. Although a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officers seeking to obtain one must show that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.

“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.

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

The Justice Department has been investigating the presence of classified records inside 15 boxes that were recovered from Mar-a-Lago by the National Archives and Records Administration earlier this year. The Archives then referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Federal law prohibits the transfer of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though Trump may try to argue that as president he was the ultimate declassification authority.

There are several statutes that govern classified information, including a law punishable by up to five years in prison that makes it a crime to remove such records and keep them in an unauthorized location. Another statute makes it a crime to mishandle classified records, either intentionally or grossly negligently.

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 and the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol have 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.

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