Former US president Trump says FBI agents raided his Florida home

·3-min read
AFP - CHANDAN KHANNA

Former US president Donald Trump branded as dark times for the nation an FBI raid on his Florida estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House.

Trump, who was in New York during the search, said that agents had arrived with a warrant and broke open a safe at the Mar-A-Lago complex.

"After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate," Trump said in his statement.

The 76-year-old added: "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."

Search

Though the search has been reported on an array of US media outlets, the Justice Department has declined to comment on the move and whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorised the search.

The Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it had retrieved from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of records containing classified information earlier this year.

The National Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department. Trump has maintained that presidential records were turned over in an ordinary and routine process.

Laws

There are a number of federal laws governing the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain it at an unauthorised location.

Though a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials hoping to obtain one must first convince a judge that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.

In a social media post on Monday night, Trump denounced the search as a "weaponisation of the Justice System, and attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for President in 2024."

Investigation

During the 2016 presidential election, Trump tried to exploit an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information through a private email server she used as Secretary of State.

Then-FBI Director James Comey concluded that Clinton had sent and received classified information but the FBI did not recommend criminal charges because it determined that Clinton had not intended to break the law.

Trump lambasted that decision and then stepped up its criticism of the FBI as agents began investigating whether his campaign had colluded with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

He fired Comey during that probe, and though he appointed Wray months later, he routinely criticised him too while he was still president.

The search, which the FBI and Justice Department did not immediately confirm, marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes amid a separate but intensifying probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.