Former President Donald Trump said Monday evening that law enforcement agents have raided his home at Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, in what appears to be an unprecedented escalation in one or more of the various criminal investigations into his activities.
Trump did not say why the agents appeared to be at his Florida property but, in an emailed statement, added that “this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”
Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for removing presidential records from the White House and storing them at Mar-a-Lago for up to a year, a potentially serious violation of the law if the records were classified. Trump has denounced that investigation, saying he was entitled to take the records.
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Trump and many of his associates are also under scrutiny by the FBI, the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal and state agencies for alleged wrongdoing during his four-year administration and related to his various business entities.
Federal law enforcement officials had no immediate comment on whether agents were at Mar-a-Lago and if so, for what reason. Traditionally, any search would need to be authorized by a judge after finding evidence of probable cause that a crime had been committed – but there are many other circumstances in which agents might be on the property.
The Justice Department declined to comment Monday.
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Last month, it was disclosed that federal prosecutors had been questioning witnesses about the conduct of the former president as part of an inquiry into an effort to overturn the 2020 election, a person familiar with the matter said.
The action is part of a more aggressive review of attempts by the former president’s allies to intervene in the election by substituting fake electors to tilt the vote in key states and to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s election.
While the source said prosecutors have recently questioned witnesses about Trump, the person declined to describe the queries in detail.
The examination of Trump’s actions in the run-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection was first disclosed by The Washington Post, which cited four people familiar with the matter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, in an NBC News last month, did not exempt Trump from federal scrutiny in the Jan. 6 investigation, saying that federal prosecutors will pursue “anyone who was criminally responsible.”
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“We pursue justice without fear or favor,” Garland told NBC when pressed on whether that could include Trump. “I’ll say again that we will hold accountable anyone who is criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the… legitimate, lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.”
Last month, federal investigators searched the home of former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark, who drafted a letter to officials in six states to overturn their election results. And authorities seized the cellphone of John Eastman, one of Trump’s personal lawyers who developed a scheme to have then-Vice President Pence singlehandedly reject voters from states Joe Biden won. Pence refused to carry out such a plan.
Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, has acknowledged that he had testified before a federal grand jury.
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This is a developing story and will be updated.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism