Donald Trump was spotted leaving Trump Tower in New York on Monday night after announcing his Mar-a-Lago home had been raided by the FBI, reportedly as part of an investigation into whether the former president took classified documents with him when he left the White House.
The former president waved and gave his signature thumbs’ up, but didn’t comment on the investigation as he got into his SUV surrounded by Secret Service agents.
Trump, in his dramatic announcement of the raid, didn’t say specifically what the federal agents were looking for, just that his Florida home was ‘under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.’
‘They even broke into my safe!’ the former president complained.
But the investigation is focused on material that Trump brought with him to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House, the New York Times reported, specificially if he has classified information in his private possession, which would be a violation of federal law.
Trump took 15 boxes of material with him in January 2021 after he left Washington D.C. The boxes were returned to the National Archives a year later in January 2022 but agents on Monday were looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at his South Florida estate, the AP reported.
The search focused on the area of the club where Trump’s offices and personal quarters are, CNN reported, noting Trump’s personal attorney Christinia Bobb was present during the search.
President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in New York City on Monday night after he announced he FBI had raided his Florida home
‘They even broke into my safe!’ Trump complained of the raid
The raid comes as Donald Trump is considering another bid for the presidency and his actions after the 2020 election, where he tried to invalidate Joe Biden’s victory, are under investigation by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
It began Monday morning and took several hours. It is highly unusual for a federal raid to take place at the residence of a former commander in chief.
‘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. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,’ Trump said in shocking statement released on Monday night.
‘After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.’
Trump, in his lengthy statement blasting the raid, called it ‘prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections.
The Justice Department wouldn’t say whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search but it’s highly unlikely a raid on a former president would take place without the AG giving it the stamp of approval.
The FBI gave US Secret Service agents at Mar-a-Lago advance notice and they cooperated letting them into the property, NBC News reported. The Secret Service agents but did not take part in investigation or search.
This meant the FBI did not have to break into the property or bust down any doors.
A search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected but it would have to be court authorized.
Garland and his DoJ are under heavy political pressure of their own – from Democrats who want the former president indicted to Republicans who will blast any probe as election-year politics.
Eric Trump told Fox News there was ‘nothing in the safe’ and confirmed the raid was tied to the National Archives. He called it ‘outrageous’ and said has to have come from the president ‘and/or someone in White House.’
But President Joe Biden’s White House had no heads up on the matter. Senior White House officials found out about it via Twitter, the New York Times reported.
Lara Trump told Fox News ‘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.’
She called the raid an attempt to hurt him as ‘he’s going to announce any day that he’s running for president in 2024.’
Trump’s Florida home: Mar-a-Lago, where agents were reportedly investigating whether Trump took classified documents with him when he left the White House
In his statement, Trump portrayed himself as a victim of shadowy government forces. FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed to his position by then-President Trump.
Trump complained on Monday that ‘such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.’
‘They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States,’ he said.
Trump did not appear to be Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, when the raid took place. He usually spends August at his golf club in Bedminister, N.J. Photos posted to social media show him there on Sunday, posing with a newly-engaged couple.
he former president was in New York City on Monday. He gave a thumbs up as he left Trump Tower that evening after he announced the raid.
The raid was believed to be tied to a DoJ investigation into the boxes of records containing classified information that were taken to Mar-a-Lago.
In February, the National Archives and Records Administration asked DoJ to examine whether the former president violated federal law. There are multiple statutes governing classified information, including a law punishable by up to five years in prison that makes it a crime to remove such records and retain them at an unauthorized location.
National Archives officials recovered 15 boxes of White House materials from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in mid-January.
Among the items Trump had to return were correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Trump has described as ‘beautiful letters’ and a handwritten letter that former President Barack Obama had left behind in the Oval Office for his successor.
Some Republicans were immediately critical of the raid.
‘Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships But never before in America,’ wrote Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on Twitter.
Donald Trump was at his golf club in Bedminister, N.J., on Sunday, according to this photo of him posing with a newly engaged couple that was posted to social media
Boxes were spotted just outside the West Wing in the days leading up to former President Donald Trump’s last day in office in January 2021
People wait for a moving van as they move boxes out of the Eisenhower Executive Office building on January 14, 2021
Among the documents Trump reportedly took with him when he left the White House were correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Trump has described as ‘beautiful letters’; above the two leaders at the DMZ in June 2019
Trump also reportedly took with him the letter Barack Obama left him int the Oval Office when Obama’s presidency finished – above President Obama and President-elect Trump in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016
Trump insisted, at the time, that the transfer of boxes to the National Archives and Records Administration was done ‘openly and willingly’.
‘Following collaborative and respectful discussions, the National Archives and Records Administration openly and willingly arranged with President Trump for the transport of boxes that contained letters, records, newspapers, magazines, and various articles,’ he wrote in the third person.
He added: ‘Some of this information will someday be displayed in the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library for the public to view my Administration’s incredible accomplishments for the American People.
In response to the seizure of materials, the House Oversight and Reform Committee opened a probe into Trump’s improperly removing or destroying White House documents.
‘Removing or concealing government records is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison,’ the congressional letter to NARA Archivist David Ferriero noted.
Trump also was known throughout his presidency to rip up pieces of paper, which is a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
The Presidential Records Act requires the White House to preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers the president touches and send them to the National Archives for safekeeping.
But Trump had the odd habit of ripping up papers when he’s done with them – what some aides call his unofficial ‘filing system.’
A group of staffers in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was in charge of taping the records back together.
Fragments of paper collected from the Oval Office and the White House’s private residence were sent to records management office across the street from the White House to to be re-assembled with scotch tape and then sent on to the National Archives to be properly filed.
The former president also reported flushed records.
Maggie Haberman, a New York Times White House correspondent, claims in her upcoming book on the Trump presidency that Trump would give records the royal flush.
On Monday she claimed to have obtained pictures of presidential notes stuffed into the residence toilets from a former White House official who worked under the previous administration.
The images published by Axios on Monday purportedly show two sets of notes in the toilets, one of which is said to be located in a White House bathroom, and the other in an undisclosed location abroad during a foreign presidential trip – though the papers appeared to be handwritten rather than official documents.
One of the ripped up papers on top of a stack in the toilet shows what appears to be lawmakers names scrawled down in all capital letters in black sharpie.
Two names can be seen clearly on the paper – Rogers and Stefanik – although the rest of the torn up papers are mostly illegible.
It’s likely the names are referencing Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama and GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, a Trump defender.
Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich told Axios: ‘You have to be pretty desperate to sell books if pictures of paper in a toilet bowl is part of your promotional plan.’
‘There’s enough people willing to fabricate stories like this in order to impress the media class — a media class who is willing to run with anything, as long as it anti-Trump,’ he added.
Maggie Haberman, a New York Times White House correspondent who closely followed Trump during his presidency for an upcoming book, claimed to have obtained pictures of handwritten notes stuffed into the bowls. She says this image is from a White House toilet
The images published by Axios purportedly show two sets of notes in the toilets, though they do not appear to be official documents. This image, Haberman claims, is from a toilet on an overseas trip
Trump is involved in several other legal matters, including the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
And a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia is investigation whether Trump and his close associates sought to interfere in that state’s election, which Biden won.