WASHINGTON – The FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said, a dramatic and unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president.
Trump, disclosing the search in a lengthy statement, asserted that agents had opened a safe at his home and described their work as an “unannounced raid” that he likened to “prosecutorial misconduct.” He was in New York, planning to meet later Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, club with members of the Republican Study Committee, a group headed by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana that says it is committed to putting forth his priorities in Congress.
Monday’s search intensified the months-long probe into how classified documents ended up in boxes of White House records located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. A separate grand jury is investigating efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and it all adds to potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run.
About two dozen Trump supporters stood in protest at midmorning Tuesday in the Florida summer heat and sporadic light rain on a bridge near the former president’s residence. One held a sign reading “Democrats are Fascists” while others carried flags saying “2020 Was Rigged,” “Trump 2024″ and Biden’s name with an obscenity. Some cars honked in support as they passed.
Familiar battle lines, forged during a a four-year presidency shadowed by investigations, quickly took shape again. Trump and his allies sought to cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 — though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge and current FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed by Trump five years ago.
Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence, a potential 2024 rival, tweeted on Tuesday: “Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately”
Trump wrote Monday night, “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,” Trump wrote. “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said.[ad_2]