(WASHINGTON) — Former President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and asserted that agents had broken open a safe. The matter was being investigated by a person who is familiar with it. It involved a probe into Trump’s ability to access classified information from his White House tenure and transfer them to his Florida home.
Although the FBI and Justice Department didn’t immediately confirm the action, it marks an important escalation of law enforcement surveillance against Trump. This comes at a time when he is preparing for another run for the presidency. A search warrant is not a sign that criminal charges may be imminent or anticipated. However, officials seeking one from federal agencies must prove that probable cause exists that there was a crime.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.
He added: “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
Dena Iverson from the Justice Department refused to speak out about the search. This includes whether Attorney General Merrick Garland authorized it.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the search took place earlier in Monday. Agents were looking for additional Presidential records and classified documents.
The Justice Department is investigating whether classified documents were found in 15 boxes that were taken from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year by the National Archives and Records Administration. The matter was then referred to the Justice Department by the Archives.
Although federal law prohibits the transfer of classified documents to unauthorised locations, Trump may be able to claim that he is the ultimate declassification authority.
Many statutes regulate classified information. One of these laws is a five-year sentence. It makes it a crime for such records to be removed and kept in an unknown location. It is also a crime for classified information to be mishandled, either in an intentional or grossly negligent way.
Trump is not facing only one legal problem. Washington has seen a separate investigation into Trump and his associates’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and to stop the Jan. 6th 2021 riot at Capitol.
And a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia is investigation whether Trump and his close associates sought to interfere in that state’s election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.
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