Wisecracks skeptical of the FBI’s motive for raiding former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate might be excused for wondering if the bureau had the Sandy Berger fiasco in mind when they scoured former first lady Melania Trump’s wardrobe, reportedly on a warrant to search for classified documents that belong to the National Archives.
Berger is known for exiting the National Archives building in Washington with classified documents stuffed in his clothing that related to his boss Bill Clinton’s pre-9/11 legacy and being slapped only with a misdemeanor charge.
During the raid Monday on Mar-a-Lago, reports the New York Post’s Miranda Devine, the former first lady’s wardrobe was a target along with Donald Trump’s private office. Agents broke open the former president’s safe and rifled through drawers in his desk.
The search warrant has not been made public, but the Post reported it focused solely on presidential records that included classified information.
Meanwhile, Newsweek reported the raid was based largely on information from an FBI confidential human source who identified the classified documents and their location, according to two senior government officials with direct knowledge of the FBI’s deliberations.
The sources said the raid was deliberately timed to occur when Trump was away. A senior Justice Department official who is a 30-year veteran of the FBI told Newsweek that bureau decision-makers in Washington and Miami thought Trump’s absence would lower the profile of the event. In Newsweek’s words, it would prevent Trump from having “a platform from which to grandstand” or “thwart” the raid. But the official acknowledged the effort to keep the raid low-key was “a spectacular backfire,” prompting outrage from Republican officials and Trump supporters.
The former president said in a post Wednesday on his social media platform Truth Social he was concerned that that derogatory items could have been planted during the search because the FBI agents would not allow the former president’s attorneys inside the building to observe the nine-hour-plus operation.
“Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting,'” he wrote.
“Why did they STRONGLY insist on having nobody watching them, everybody out?” Trump said.
His son Eric Trump told DailyMail.com that FBI agents refused to hand over the search warrant and kicked a Trump attorney off the property. The 30 agents who arrived at the estate asked staff to turn security cameras off, Eric Trump said, but they refused. He called the raid another “coordinated attack” and contended President Biden must have been informed of the search, despite the White House’s denial.
The raid was conducted by the Southern District of Florida and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The Washington office is running the criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Last week, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, announced whistleblowers from the Washington field office allege the agent in charge of their office, Timothy Thibault, helped cover up derogatory information on the Biden family’s influence peddling operation and also was “deeply involved” in the decision to open the investigation against President Trump of so-called “fake electors.” The assistant director of the Washington office, Steven M. D’Antuono, was assigned to that position in October 2020 after heading the Detroit field office, which concocted the FBI informant-led plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that was blamed on Trump supporters just before the 2020 election.
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The agents at Mar-a-Lago on Monday also entered a locked basement storage room in which 15 cardboard boxes of material from the White House were stored. The boxes, according to a legal source who spoke to the New York Post, had been packed by the General Services Administration and shipped to Mar-a-Lago at the end of Trump’s presidency in January 2020.
The sources said that before the raid, Trump’s attorneys had been cooperating fully with federal authorities regarding the return of the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration.
Trump attorney Evan Corcoran said that in May he allowed FBI agents to search through the boxes in the storage room. Trump stopped by the basement to say hello at one point, the Post reported, citing a person who was present.
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, said his watchdog legal organization is asking the court that issued the search warrant to unseal it.
“The Biden administration’s raid on President Trump’s home is an outrageous, reckless, and unprecedented abuse of power,” he wrote on Twitter. “And the American people have an urgent right to know how it happened and who is responsible.”
The judge who signed the warrant was a donor to President Obama and represented employees of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the New York Post reported Tuesday, citing named sources.
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