The FBI raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and broke into a safe in his palatial home, the former president said Monday.
Trump said in a message on his social media forum Truth Social that his home had been “raided, and occupied” and was “currently under siege.”
FBI agents were reportedly searching for classified documents that Trump allegedly brought with him from the White House to Mar-a-Lago after his presidency ended — which, if true, could be a violation of federal law.
The National Archives and Records Administration said it had found classified material in 15 boxes at the residence earlier this year and alerted the FBI. The agents executed a search warrant Monday to look for additional presidential records Trump may have relocated to his Florida estate.
“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”
Any search of a private residence would have to be approved by a judge after law enforcement demonstrated probable cause that a search was justified — but in this case, experts said it would have had to come from the “highest levels.”
“This raid is surely one of the most significant the FBI has ever undertaken,” Jonathan Shaub, a former attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel at the US Department of Justice, told the Miami Herald.
“It would likely have been approved at the highest levels of the FBI and Justice Department,” Shaub, who now works at the University of Kentucky’s Rosenberg College of Law, added.
The raid comes as the Justice Department is examining the actions of Trump in its criminal investigation of efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. That probe is separate from the department’s investigation into his handling of classified materials.
Federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it is possible that Trump could try to argue that, as president, he was the ultimate declassification authority.
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.
Another statute makes it a crime to mishandle classified records either intentionally or in a grossly negligent manner.
Trump has also been accused of attempting to destroy presidential records.
The National Archives has said that some of the records it received back from the former president had been torn up, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Photos published by Axios report to show torn White House documents in the bottom of a toilet though a spokesperson for Trump denied claims that he tried to flush the papers.
If the former president is convicted of a crime related to the removal, concealment or destruction of classified or other government material, his political opponents may move to prevent him from holding office again under a federal law which states anyone who “unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys” such records shall face a fine, imprisonment “and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”
However, Trump’s supporters and other legal commentators argue that only the Constitution sets the requirements determining who can run for president, and nothing in the document prevents convicted felons from seeking or attaining the office.
Late Monday, Trump called the raid a politically motivated move by Democrats who don’t want him to run again in 2024.
“It is 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,” he wrote.
Trump compared the FBI search to “an assault [that] could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries” and also to the Watergate scandal.
The former Republican president said the “large group” of FBI agents even broke into his safe.
“The lawlessness, political persecution and Witch Hunt must be exposed and stopped.”
A source who was at Mar-a-Lago at the time of the FBI raid told The Post that it was “like the scene of a ‘Die Hard’ movie” as armored cars came screeching up to the Palm Beach resort Monday morning and “at least 100” FBI agents charged into Trump’s home.
“It was totally unexpected,” the source said. “The place was mostly closed today, so the only people there were close personal friends of Trump.
“The staff were absolutely terrified.”
The former president was at Trump Tower in New York at the time of the raid, Post sources said.
Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search.
Despite Trump’s potential law-breaking, several GOP lawmakers have lined up behind him to denounce the Justice Department and FBI’s unannounced search.
“I’ve seen enough,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement. “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.”
He threatened to conduct “immediate oversight” of the department and “leave no stone unturned” if Republicans take back the House.
“Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis compared the Justice Department and FBI to an authoritarian regime, while pointing to the handling of the Hunter Biden probe.
“The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves,” DeSantis tweeted.
“Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic.”
Right-wing Rep. Lauren Boebert also attacked the FBI, saying the GOP must set up a Select Committee to investigate the “politically-motivated” raid.
“The #DepartmentOfInjustice has been weaponized against the American people,” she tweeted. “We’ve known this for awhile but they no longer are trying to hide it.”
Trump’s son Eric Trump slammed the abrupt search in an appearance on “Hannity.”
“To have 30 FBI agents, actually more than that, descend on Mar-a-Lago, give absolutely no notice, go through the gate, start ransacking an office, ransacking a closet — you know, they broke into a safe, he didn’t even have anything in the safe — I mean, give me a break,” Eric Trump said.
He said the raid was “more political persecution of Donald J. Trump.”