Former US President Donald Trump said FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday and broke into his safe in what his son acknowledged was part of an investigation into Trump’s removal of official presidential records from the White House to the resort in Florida.
The unprecedented search of a former president’s home would mark a significant escalation of the records investigation, which is one of several investigations Trump faces from his time in office and in his private business.
The US Justice Department declined to comment on the search, which Trump in a statement called a raid and said involved a “large group of FBI agents.” FBI headquarters in Washington and the Miami field office both declined comment.
Eric Trump, one of the former president’s grown children, told Fox News that the search involved boxes of documents Trump brought with him from the White House, and that his father has been working with the National Archives on the matter for months.
A source familiar with the matter also confirmed to Reuters that the raid appeared to be linked to Trump’s removal of classified records from the White House.
Trump said the property is “currently under siege, raided and occupied.” He did not say why the raid took place.
“After working and cooperating with the appropriate government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was neither necessary nor appropriate,” Trump said, adding, “They even broke into my safe!”
Trump was not present when he was in New York on Monday, Fox News Digital reported.
Trump, who has made his club in Palm Beach his home since leaving the White House in January 2021, has typically spent summers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, because Mar-a-Lago typically closes in the summer.
A federal law called the US Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, memos, e-mails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties.
Any search of a private residence had to be authorized by a judge, after the investigating law enforcement agency demonstrated probable cause that a search was warranted.
It will almost certainly also be approved by FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, and his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by Trump’s successor and political rival, President Joe Biden.
Democratic supporters of Mr. Biden have criticized Mr. Garland for being overly cautious in investigating Mr. Trump over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Mr. Biden. A White House official said Biden was not notified in advance of the search and referred questions to the Justice Department.
Trump supporters have accused Democrats of weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to target Trump, even as Biden has sought to distance himself from the Justice Department.