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FBI searches Trump's Florida home as part of presidential records probe

Sports & General Aug 09, 2022 07:22AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S., August 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder 2/2

By Brian Ellsworth and Sarah N. Lynch

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) -Former President Donald Trump said FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday and broke into his safe in what his son acknowledged was part of an investigation into Trump's removal of official presidential records from the White House to his Florida resort.

The unprecedented search of a former president's home would mark a significant escalation into the records investigation, which is one of several probes Trump is facing from his time in office and in private business.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the search, which Trump in a statement called a raid and said involved a "large group of FBI agents." The FBI's headquarters in Washington and its field office in Miami both declined comment.

Eric Trump, one of the former president's adult children, told Fox News the search concerned boxes of documents that Trump brought with him from the White House, and that his father has been cooperating with the National Archives on the matter for months.

A source familiar with the matter also confirmed to Reuters the raid appeared to be tied to Trump's removal of classified records from the White House.

Trump said the estate "is currently under siege, raided, and occupied." He did not say why the raid took place.

"After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or 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, publishing a photo of Trump that a Fox reporter said showed him leaving Trump Tower.

Trump, who has made his club in Palm Beach his home since leaving the White House in January 2021, has generally spent summers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, because Mar-a-Lago typically closes for the summer.

A federal law called the U.S. Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president's official duties.

Any search of a private residence would have to be approved by a judge, after the investigating law-enforcement agency demonstrated probable cause that a search was justified.

It almost certainly would also be approved 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.

Democratic supporters of Biden have criticized Garland for being overly cautious in investigating Trump over his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden. A White House official said Biden was not given advance notice of the search and referred queries to the Justice Department.

"Make no mistake, the attorney general had to authorize this," said Phillip Halpern, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in public corruption cases, adding that Wray and a host of prosecutors would also be involved.

"This is as big a deal as you can have, and ... every single person in the chain would have had to sign off on this," Halpern said.

Trump supporters have accused the Democrats of weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to target Trump, even as Biden has attempted to distance himself from the Justice Department.

MISSING RECORDS

In February, Archivist David Ferriero told U.S. House lawmakers that the National Archives and Records Administration had been in communication with Trump throughout 2021 about the return of 15 boxes of records. He eventually returned them in January 2022.

At the time, the National Archives was still conducting an inventory, but noted some of the boxes contained items "marked as classified national security information."

Trump previously confirmed that he had agreed to return certain records to the Archives, calling it "an ordinary and routine process." He also claimed the Archives "did not 'find' anything."

The Justice Department launched an early-stage investigation into Trump's removal of records to the Florida estate, a source familiar with the matter said in April.

Lara Trump, the former president's daughter-in-law, said he only removed mementos that he was legally authorized to take.

"Look, my father-in-law as anybody knows who's been around him a lot loves to save things like newspaper clippings, magazine clippings, photographs, documents that he had every authority to take from the White House," Lara Trump told Fox News.

Several dozen Trump supporters gathered near Mar-a-Lago, which is steps from the ocean, and where several men stood guard next to a dark sport utility vehicle. Police cars parked in the street, lights flashing, as officers directed traffic and kept onlookers from the gates.

Trump supporters honked their horns and played music from their cars as some waved Trump flags or American flags.

"It's another unjust thing like the made up impeachment hoaxes," said Jim Whelan, 59, who works in advertising. He held a large sign reading, "Fake News is CNN."

Trump supporters apparently were expecting him to arrive, as one officer announced on a megaphone: "Trump is not returning to Mar-a-Lago tonight. His trip has been canceled."

FBI searches Trump's Florida home as part of presidential records probe
 

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Comments (10)
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 8:08PM ET
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anyone else would have been locked up about a year and half ago.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 09, 2022 4:13PM ET
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It was a Republican judge who signed off on the search warrant submitted by Trump-appointed FBI director.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 3:28PM ET
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dont commit the crime if you dont want to do the time!
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 12:05PM ET
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the perpetual thief and election liar, stole classified documents and wouldn't return them amicably, good job FBI, the sleaze must learn what equal justice under the law means. lock him up and dont vote for anyone that supports Capt Chaos!
SureWin Sam
SureWin Sam Aug 09, 2022 10:48AM ET
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They try to find something to block Trump to run next term.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 09, 2022 10:48AM ET
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They try to enforce US laws.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 10:48AM ET
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they dont need to try hard to find criminality by trump! can you imagine he was a president? it's like a bad dream.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 10:48AM ET
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the Republicans never stand up against criminality amongst them. they actually double down and defend and lie for them. of course till the law catches up with you.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 09, 2022 10:48AM ET
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Mark Jannetty Sure, of course! Let any public official who has committed a crime face the same justice as the rest of us. But the Q-notion that a lack of prosecution is evidence of criminality is just cuckoo.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 09, 2022 9:46AM ET
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The Donald taking documents home without permission - no big deal; Hillary taking work emails to her personal email account - multiple congressional investigations....
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 09, 2022 9:37AM ET
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funny how the people cared so much about Hillary's personal email account don't seem to care at all about The Donald taking government documents home without permission
WESLEY WARREN
WSQUARED Aug 09, 2022 9:37AM ET
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what documents , all the sudden after years lol coming lmao such a corrupt bunch
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 09, 2022 9:37AM ET
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WESLEY WARREN What documents? Well, to be fair, we haven't seen them yet. But the FBI most likely was not carrying Trump's underwear in those boxes they removed from MaraLago.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 7:42AM ET
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Lara trump lies like her father in law, we all know trump likes to flush papers down the toilet that may implicate him. they had to search for documents he would not release . it is a first to search and ex president's home. it is also a big first that republicans elected a fascist dictator wanna be that lies, steals and conspires to commit criminal acts against said country! lock him up!
David CA
ILoveQE Aug 09, 2022 6:47AM ET
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Our Republic has hit a new low. We are on the verge of becoming a third world country.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 09, 2022 6:47AM ET
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only if you keep electing fascist dictator wanna be that lie and commit treason and corrupt everything.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 09, 2022 6:47AM ET
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@ILoveQE: Quite the opposite. We are proving our resilience as a nation of laws. The GOP will regret giving up their respect for law in order. They'll be stained for a generation as the party of sycophants.
Rodrigo Chavez
Rodrigo Chavez Aug 09, 2022 3:21AM ET
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trump 20-24 years in prison
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Aug 09, 2022 3:21AM ET
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I should come by your house for a visit, f. N. Communist
Jurgen Daub
Jurgen Daub Aug 09, 2022 3:21AM ET
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is this a threat?f.n.?
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 09, 2022 3:21AM ET
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Get ready for more of this kind if unhinged reaction as the US unwinds itself from the authoritarian infestation.
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Aug 09, 2022 3:21AM ET
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