Just after 6.30pm on Monday night, FloridaPolitics.com publisher Peter Schorsch landed the biggest news scoop of the year.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation today executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, two sources confirm to Florida Politics,” he posted.
“Not sure what the search warrant was about. TBH, I’m not a strong enough reporter to hunt this down, but its real.”
The news that Mar-a-Lago was the target of an FBI search warrant soon exploded onto cable television and national news sites, and was confirmed by Donald Trump in a statement released minutes afterwards.
It was a major coup for a little-known digital news platform whose previous stories had been on a school board race and the campaign for state agricultural commissioner.
Recalling how he landed the story, Mr Schorsch told The Independent it began when he received a text from an old friend in Florida politics to say he was sitting on a “yuge” story – intentionally employing the former president’s speaking style.
“I was a little reluctant at first, I was like ‘is this going to be like Donald Trump speaking at a carwash’.”
Mr Schorsch called the source and they caught up on gossip for about 20 minutes, until the contact casually dropped a bombshell: FBI agents were at Mar-a-Lago.
“I thought, ‘wait, we’ve been talking for 20 minutes and you just mention this now?’”
Mr Schorsch, who has been covering the former president since 2015, immediately phoned a senior contact in Trump world.
“I said, ‘hey you’re not going to like this but the FBI is raiding Mar-a-Lago’ and they said: ‘Oh f***’.”
A few minutes later, the source called back to say: “They just left.”
“I knew that I had the scoop at this point but I wanted to make sure it didn’t die,” Mr Schorsch told The Independent.
“I was at the top of the diving board and I just wanted to make sure I was going to land OK.”
To ensure the story didn’t get lost in the maelstrom of social media, he got in touch with a few veteran reporter friends to give them a heads-up, and then fired out the tweet to his 46,000 followers.
The tweet went viral, and within minutes the breaking news alerts and cable news chyrons started popping off.
Aware of the incoming traffic headed his way, he contacted his internet provider to get some extra capacity and ensure the website didn’t crash in its finest hour.
He was heartened to see major news outlets including CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times and others credited the story back to his tweet.
As the media enquiries began flooding in, Mr Schorsch said as he had to turn down a couple of requests to appear on cable news, as it was going to clash with his favourite TV show Better Call Saul.
“You’ve got to have priorities. I figured it would still be there in the morning.”
Mr Schorsch, a former political operative, says he started blogging as a way to share gossip and help navigate his clients through the rough-and-tumble world of Florida politics.
He founded the non-partisan Florida Politics a decade ago and has since grown the “Mom and Pop” organisation into a thriving digital news site.
Based in St Petersburg, he works up to 18 hours a day and employs 17 reporters who focus exclusively on state and local political elections, campaigns and shenanigans, publishing around 40-50 stories each day.
With some of the most expensive local election campaigns in the world, where millions of dollars are often spent on statewide races, Mr Schorsch tells The Independent there’s no shortage of news to chase.
Mr Schorsch says the raid throws an intriguing twist into the battle between Mr Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as they vie for the Republican nomination in 2024.
“This is the biggest game of chicken that’s ever been played in politics, when does one of them say they are not going to run against the other.”
“It’s the most fascinating dynamic in US politics right now.”
Mr DeSantis came out firing against the FBI on Tuesday morning, echoing conservative outrage and calling the raid an “escalation in the weaponisation of federal agencies”.
But Ms Schorsch says that may be a ploy from the governor to remain in Mr Trump’s favour.
And he suspects that Mr Trump, as he has done so many times, may turn the seemingly bad news to his advantage.
“I think Trump’s very angry this morning. I hate to say it but he has an ability to turn bad things into good for him. I think he may be able to boomerang this into a positive for him.”