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Trump Describes FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search as “Dark Times” for the Country

The search couldn’t have happened without probable cause and a sign-off from a federal judge, legal experts noted.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 6, 2022, in Dallas, Texas.

On Monday, former President Donald Trump denounced an FBI-executed search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, decrying it as political “persecution.”

“These are dark times for our Nation,” Trump wrote in his statement, which was published as the FBI was conducting the search. Trump described his home as being “under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”

The search was conducted after the Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained a warrant to enter the former president’s home to investigate whether he had mishandled and inappropriately removed documents from the White House, according to Politico. Such warrants must be signed by a federal judge, and some legal experts have suggested that, because of Trump’s political status, the warrant would also require the approval of all levels of the department, including from Attorney General Merrick Garland, though the DOJ wouldn’t confirm whether or not he had authorized the search.

After several hours, the FBI seized an undisclosed number of paper records from Mar-a-Lago.

Despite the fact that Trump has been obstinate and unaccommodating throughout several investigations he has faced over the past few years, the former president claimed in his statement that he had been “working and cooperating” with investigators prior to the raid.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to a [former] President of the United States before,” Trump said, a statement that is factually correct.

Trump called the search of his home a “weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”

“They even broke into my safe!” Trump said.

The search occurred several months after the National Archives retrieved other documents from the property. Earlier this year, federal authorities removed multiple boxes of records — including some that contained documents with a “top secret” classification — that Trump had taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago in an apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Legal experts defended the search.

“The FBI could only execute a search warrant if a federal judge found probable cause that a crime was committed and that evidence of that crime would likely be found at the place to be searched…Given that this was the property of a former president, a judge unquestionably took that responsibility very seriously,” said Noah Bookbinder, a former federal prosecutor and current president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “No one was casual about this.

“The fact the search apparently didn’t leak until basically when word came from Donald Trump himself shows the FBI and the Justice Department conducted this search by the book and a high degree of integrity,” journalist and historian Garrett Graff tweeted about the investigation.

Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent, suggested that the raid had national security implications.

“Having unsecured classified documents at [Mar-a-Lago] presents an ongoing national security threat — especially given the amount of traffic going through there,” Rangappa said. “No doubt foreign governments are sending intel agents there.”

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