WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI has raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took sensitive White House files to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday. .
Trump publicized the police action in a lengthy statement, denouncing that officers had broken into his safe in a search he described as evidence of “dark times for our nation.”
The raid, which neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has so far confirmed, represents a drastic escalation in police scrutiny of Trump, and comes at a time when a separate investigation is underway into his attempts to kill Trump. overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections.
Trump and his allies immediately sought to portray the FBI operation as part of a Democratic-driven attempt to prevent him from winning another presidential term in 2024, even though President Joe Biden’s White House indicated it had not been informed. previously of it and that the current director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump five years ago and was a senior official in the Department of Justice when it was headed by Republican officials.
“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 to a president of the United States before.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson declined to comment on the raid.
Trump did not elaborate on the basis for the raid, but the Justice Department has been investigating possible mishandling of sensitive information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it had collected 15 boxes of files from Mar-a-Lago. with confidential information a few months ago.
The Archives referred the matter to the Justice Department. Trump has previously claimed that the presidential files were released “in a normal and routine process.”
There are several federal laws that govern confidential files and sensitive government documents, including a statute that makes it criminal to remove such material and store it in an unauthorized location.
Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on an ongoing investigation, said the raid occurred Monday and confirmed that agents were also looking to see if Trump had any more presidential files or any sensitive documents in the room. property.
While a warrant to search a home does not indicate future criminal charges, federal authorities seeking one must show probable cause that a crime was committed.
In his first public appearance since the operation became known, Trump made no mention of it Monday night during a virtual rally for Leora Levy, the Connecticut Republican he has endorsed for Tuesday’s primary in the US. that a rival to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal will be chosen in the general election for the US Senate.
But in a social media post Monday night he did address what happened, saying the raid was “weaponizing the justice system, and an attack by radical left Democrats who are desperate for don’t run for president in 2024.”
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Meg Kinnard contributed to this report.