On Monday, former president Donald Trump confirmed in a statement that the FBI had raided the members’ club and resort Mar-a-Lago, his residence in Palm Beach, Florida. While the FBI and the Department of Justice have not confirmed the search, multiple sources have suggested the warrant was granted in relation to an investigation into the handling of classified documents during the Trump administration, with officers seeking to recover material that may have been taken unlawfully to Trump’s private estate.
The investigation began after 15 boxes of White House records were recovered from Mar-a-Lago by administrators from the National Archives earlier this year—and while the search itself does not necessarily indicate criminal wrongdoing on Trump’s part, in order for a judge to have signed the warrant, investigators would have been required to prove there was probable cause that a crime had been committed. While President Joe Biden was reportedly unaware of the raid prior to it, it is likely that the warrant would also have needed sign-off at the highest levels of the Department of Justice, including from Attorney General Merrick Garland.
While Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago when the raid took place, his son Eric Trump was staying at the property and is believed to have been the first to notify him. “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,” Trump wrote in a typically colorful statement released last night. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe!”
The story has also sparked outrage from those within the GOP, who have described the FBI’s ongoing investigations as everything from a smear campaign to an outright witch hunt. While many, including Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader in the House, characterized the raid as an example of the politicization of neutral government institutions, others, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ronny Jackson, variously called to defund the FBI or described it as “the enemy of the people.” Later in the evening, throngs of Trump supporters gathered across the street from Mar-a-Lago to wave flags and blast music in support of the former president.
The raid may serve as grist for the mill for right-wing conspiracy theorists as Trump takes his 2024 campaign up a gear, but it also indicates that given the various lawsuits and investigations Trump is currently facing, it seems increasingly unlikely he will emerge unscathed.