The search of Donald Trump’s residence in Palm Beach (Florida) was due to the fact that the authorities suspect that the former president or his inner circle did not return all the documents and presidential materials after his goodbye to the White House, sources familiar with the situation have assured several US media. Among those documents, investigators believe there may be classified material with potential national security impact.
The operation carried out by the FBI was the culmination of months of tug-of-war between Trump and the authorities. The Presidential Documents Law imposes the preservation of letters, notes, reports, emails and any other documentation related to the exercise of the functions of president. Trump should have handed over all those documents when he left the White House in January 2017. after his electoral defeat in front of Joe Biden. But he took some of those materials to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence on the Florida coast, where he lives for much of the year.
The National Archives, the body in charge of preserving these materials, has demanded their return for months. At the beginning of the year, he required Trump to deliver fifteen boxes of these materials, a demand that Trump did not comply with until They threatened him with legal action.
The National Archives authorities pointed out that among those documents there was classified material that included sensitive information for national security and verified that Trump had not returned some documents that they thought would be in his possession.
The Justice Department, to which the National Archives referred the case, believed that Trump had not fully complied with the delivery of those materials. Last June, a group of investigators went to Mar-a-Lago about this matter, had a brief meeting with the former president himself and had access to the building. Among other measures, they sent a request to access surveillance videos of the residence and obtained statements from Trump’s legal team about the materials returned to the National Archives.
Monday’s search occurred, however, because investigators suspected that the information they had been given was not complete or correct and that Trump could continue to withhold sensitive information that should not be in his possession.
A judge authorized the search, so the investigators had to offer credible evidence that the former president was withholding documents that he should not have.
On this occasion, Trump was not in his mansion – in summers, too hot in Florida, he does not use that residence – and only one of his lawyers, Christina Bobb, appeared during the operation.
Bobb assured ‘The Washington Post’ on Tuesday that FBI agents took close to a dozen boxes that they were in a storage area in the basement and assured that the judicial authorization showed that the investigators were looking for possible violations of the Presidential Documents Law in relation to the use of classified material.
Yet no details about what documents the agents found and whether their priority is to secure that classified material or find evidence to incriminate Trump for his use and retention of those documents.
The search, the first suffered by a former president, has caused a political storm in the US. Republicans accuse the Biden Administration, its Department of Justice and the FBI of “political persecution” and of “politicization” of justice.
Trump, who faces other investigations for his role in trying to turn around the 2020 election results and for last year’s assault on Capitol Hill, in addition to a civil lawsuit against his company in New York, denounced that the record is inside a “coordinated attack” against his person.
The scandal could also have important political repercussions: it occurs three months of legislative elections -where the Democrats risk their meager majorities in Congress, and have the polls against them- and in the face of the possibility that Trump will announce his candidacy this year to regain the White House in 2024.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism