A CNN report revealed that FBI agents searched Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida for evidence related to possible mishandling of classified documents. The search was approved by a judge and focused on Trump’s office and residence. It is unclear what the FBI found, though it is likely that agents gathered evidence from both Trump’s office and home. The search comes as part of two investigations into the former President’s actions while he was in office.
Donald Trump was impeached twice, incited a mob riot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss and constantly tore at the guardrails of his office and democracy during his single term. Afterward, like no other President, he threatened to inject new toxins into the political life of a nation that is hopelessly divided. He also came with the ex-President itching to launch a 2024 campaign rooted in his false claims of electoral fraud, which his authoritarian rhetoric suggests would present a profound challenge to democracy. That looming campaign will likely feed on the political rocket fuel of a perception among Trump supporters — which he himself created in his statement announcing the search Monday — that he is being unfairly persecuted.
Trump seizes on the search to fire up supporters
President Trump was quick to put a political spin on the operation, claiming that his “beautiful home” was “under siege, raided and occupied” while complaining that he was a victim of the “weaponization of the Justice system” by Democrats who wanted to stop him from becoming president after the 2024 election. His statement used language similar to that of some of his supporters, who were arrested for violent acts in Washington on January 6, 2021.
On the morning of April 13, 2017, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was in the process of being raided by federal agents. The agents were legally authorized, and the search warrant was approved by a judge. The agents proceeded with the search after they entered Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room. They collected documents related to ongoing criminal investigations. Mar-a-Lago is owned by President Trump and has been called his “Winter White House”. President Joe Biden was not aware that his home had been searched until after it had already happened.
Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, immediately vowed to investigate Attorney General Merrick Garland if Republicans win the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who’s facing voters this fall, tweeted: “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships But never before in America.” Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, wrote on Twitter: “We need answers NOW. The FBI must explain what they were doing today & why.”
In the hours following former President Bush’s decision to release his presidential records relating to the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, public support for him grew, with many Republicans quick to voice their support. This is an early sign of how the investigation will face extreme political pressure and demonstrate how Bush’s potential 2024 campaign could benefit from rallying around a government investigation that he can portray as unfair—and that potential GOP rivals may have little option but to rally too.
The exact parameters of the search warrant were not available. CNN reported that boxes of items were taken by the FBI after the search on Monday. And Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, said the bureau seized “paper” after what she said was “an unannounced raid.”