On Monday, the private house of former President Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Florida was raided by FBI agents.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in a statement.
It's the first that a federal agency has performed an unannounced investigation in the private estate of the last U.S. president to hold office.
The Biden administration was not informed of the search in advance, the White House said Monday.
Why Was Mar-a-Lago Raided?
According to Wall Street Journal sources close to the investigation, the main reason for the raid is related to suspected irregularities with Trump’s handling of official records while in office, the newspaper said in a report.
Trump is also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In January, the National Archives recovered 15 boxes of material from Trump that apparently contained classified official files. In June, a Justice Department official visited Trump’s property in search of allegedly classified material that had been removed from the White House.
The raid could have vast political consequences for Trump and the GOP. Former officials can face harsh consequences for altering or removing classified materials. These penalties range from up to five years in prison to being disqualified from holding federal office.
For Trump, who has repeatedly announced plans to run again in 2024, the finding of evidence of wrongdoing during his first term could be catastrophic.
Such an event, however, would not affect the former president’s business affairs in the same way.
Documents released last October following a merger between Trump Media & Technology Group the SPAC Digital World Acquisition Corp DWAC show that Trump hedged against a “material disruptive event” in his ownership in the company.
These include whether “the company principal announces that he is running for a public office” or “the company principal is personally convicted of a felony criminal offense.”
Top Democrats, Republicans React: Raid Politically Motivated Or Impartial?
The interpretation of Monday's FBI search varies greatly by political orientation.
Republican commentators called the raid a political prosecution, while Democrats said there was no political motivation behind the search.
In an interview with NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that “no person is above the law, not even the president of the United States, not even a former president of the United States."
On Monday, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that “the Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization.”
McCarthy pledged to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland “when Republicans take back the House,” making reference to a possible flip in power in the U.S. House of Representatives following the November election, which could overthrow Democratic control of the House.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the raid “is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.” DeSantis is one of the frontrunners to represent the Republican Party on the 2024 ticket should Trump not survive the primary.
Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik said that the “political weaponization of the FBI and Department of Justice is an actual threat to democracy,” and called for an immediate investigation and accountability into Joe Biden and his Administration’s weaponizing of this department.”
Republican Sen. Rick Scott said that the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago “is incredibly concerning, especially given the Biden admin’s history of going after parents & other political opponents.”
The search of a private residence needs to be approved by a judge after a law-enforcement agency demonstrates probable cause that would justify a search.
Though no official confirmation has been issued, a Reuters report speculates the raid would have to have been approved by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump in 2017.
Photo by Jack Edward Boucher on Wikimedia Commons.
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