Trump Says FBI Searches His Mar-a-Lago Estate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI conducted a search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the former president said in a lengthy statement Monday, saying agents broke into a safe. A person familiar with the matter said the actions were related to an investigation into whether Trump had taken confidential White House files to his Florida residence.

The actions, which neither the FBI nor the Justice Department have so far confirmed, represent an escalation in police scrutiny of Trump, and come as the former president has been laying the groundwork to run again for the presidency. Although a search warrant does not indicate future criminal charges, federal authorities requesting one must show that they have probable cause that a crime was committed.

“After collaborating and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced operation on my home was neither necessary nor appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.

“These are dark times for our nation,” he said. “My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is being besieged, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. This has never happened before to a president of the United States.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search.

A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search occurred hours earlier Monday and that agents were also looking to see if Trump had any more presidential files or any sensitive documents on the property. .

The Justice Department has been investigating the presence of sensitive files inside the 15 boxes that the National Archives and Records Administration collected from Mar-A-Lago a few months ago. The Archives subsequently referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Federal law prohibits the removal of sensitive documents to unauthorized locations, though Trump could possibly argue that, as president, he has the ultimate authority to deprive any document of secrecy.

There are multiple statutes that govern confidential information, including a law that establishes penalties of up to five years in prison and that criminalizes taking these types of files and storing them in an unauthorized location. Another statute criminalizes the mishandling of confidential documents, whether intentionally or recklessly.

The investigation is not the only legal problem Trump has to deal with. A separate investigation related to attempts by the former president and his allies to annul the results of the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021 riot in the US Capitol has also intensified in Washington.

In addition, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is investigating whether Trump and his associates tried to interfere in the elections in that state, which Joe Biden won.

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