Donald Trump says FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago | Politics News

A “large group” of federal agents entered Donald Trump’s residence in Florida in an “unannounced raid”, the former US president said on his social media channel on Monday.

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials entered the property in a move that “was neither necessary nor appropriate,” Trump wrote in a statement.

The circumstances surrounding the raid were unclear.

Trump was not at Mar a Lago when officers arrived. He was seen on Monday leaving Trump Tower in New York, where he also has a home.

The search, which the FBI and Justice Department did not immediately confirm, marks a dramatic escalation in a months-long investigation into how classified documents ended up in more than a dozen boxes located in Mar -a-Lago earlier this year. It came amid a separate but increasingly intense investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and added to potential legal peril for Trump as he prepares to stand. run again for the presidency in 2024.

In February, classified documents were found in 15 boxes of official documents related to the Trump presidency that were recovered from Mar-a-Lago by the United States National Archives. Under US law, any communications regarding presidential duties must be preserved. The National Archives had referred the incident to the US Department of Justice.

Some supporters of former President Donald Trump hold flags outside his home in Mar-A-Lago after he said the FBI raided his Florida home [Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images via AFP]

Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson declined to comment on the raid, including on whether Attorney General Merrick Garland personally authorized the search, the Associated Press reported.

Trump claimed his home, the Mar-a-Lago estate, was being “besieged, raided and occupied”, calling it a “militarization of the justice system” that could only happen in “broken Third World countries”.

He alleged in his statement that the FBI’s decision was supported by Democrats who “desperately” do not want him to run for re-election in 2024.

“They even broke into my safe!” he said.

Trump’s son, Eric Trump, told Fox News the search was tied to documents sought by the National Archives.

Melanie Sloan, a former prosecutor and government ethics expert, told Al Jazeera it was difficult to know the reasons for the raid without a search warrant or affidavit, but she said the circumstances suggested it must have been “more than ‘ordinary”. ”.

“He can be prosecuted for improperly taking and destroying documents,” she said. “It’s not something that gets sued frequently and prosecuting the former president for it would be very serious, so there must be some kind of issue about what’s in those documents and what’s in there. inside that he tries to destroy.”

There are numerous federal laws in the United States that govern the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including laws that make it a crime to remove such documents and store them in an unauthorized location.

Although a search warrant does not indicate that criminal charges are imminent or even anticipated, to obtain the warrant officers must first convince a judge that they believe they will find evidence that a crime has occurred. been committed.

“The FBI wouldn’t have asked for a search warrant, (and) a judge wouldn’t have signed the search warrant if there wasn’t probable cause for the FBI to search the premises for documents. revealing a serious crime,” Richard Painter of the University of Minnesota Law School and a former ethics adviser to George W Bush, told Al Jazeera.

Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search took place earlier on Monday. Agents were also looking to see if Trump had any additional presidential files or classified documents on the estate.

White House aides said Trump often tore up documents that then had to be taped together.

Photographs released Monday morning reportedly showed handwritten notes from Trump torn at the bottom of a toilet bowl. Axios first reported the allegations which it says are included in an upcoming book by New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman.

The former president is also linked to investigations into potentially illegal business practices, his efforts to nullify the 2020 US election and his role in the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.

Several former advisers and staff have testified as part of the congressional inquiry into the origins of the Capitol riot, with much of the focus on the former president, his actions leading up to it, and his refusing for hours to contain his crowd of supporters as they stormed the Capitol.

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