By: Fern Sidman
The FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said, as was reported by the AP. It represents a dramatic and unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president.
Trump was in New York City when the raid took place at his Florida residence. The AP reported that he was planning to meet later Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, club with members of the Republican Study Committee, a group headed by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana that says it is committed to putting forth his priorities in Congress.
In a lengthy statement issued on Monday concerning the FBI raid, Trump said:
“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. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Elections. 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! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States.
The political persecution of President Donald J. Trump has been going on for years, with the now fully debunked Russia, Russia, Russia Scam, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and so much more, it just never ends. It is political targeting at the highest level!
Hillary Clinton was allowed to delete and acid wash 33,000 E-mails AFTER they were subpoenaed by Congress. Absolutely nothing has happened to hold her accountable. She even took antique furniture, and other items from the White House.
I stood up to America’s bureaucratic corruption, I restored power to the people, and truly delivered for our Country, like we have never seen before. The establishment hated it. Now, as they watch my endorsed candidates win big victories, and see my dominance in all polls, they are trying to stop me, and the Republican Party, once more. The lawlessness, political persecution, and Witch Hunt must be exposed and stopped.
I will continue to fight for the Great American People!”
Monday’s search intensified the months-long probe into how classified documents ended up in boxes of White House records located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, as was reported by the AP. A separate grand jury is investigating efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and it all adds to potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run.
About two dozen Trump supporters stood in protest at midmorning Tuesday in the Florida summer heat and sporadic light rain on a bridge near the former president’s residence. The AP reported that one held a sign reading “Democrats are Fascists” while others carried flags saying “2020 Was Rigged,” “Trump 2024″ and Biden’s name with an obscenity. Some cars honked in support as they passed.
Familiar battle lines, forged during a four-year presidency shadowed by investigations, quickly took shape again. The AP reported that Trump and his allies sought to cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 — though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge and current FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed by Trump five years ago.
Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence, a potential 2024 rival, tweeted on Tuesday: “Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately.”
Conservative commentator Mark Levin left no illusions as to the seriousness of the FBI’s Monday raid at former President Trump’s office and personal quarters at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, calling it “the worst attack on this Republic in modern history,” as was reported by the Vois Es Nais web site.
“This was well orchestrated, so this has been going on for weeks,” Levin told Sean Hannity on Fox News Monday night. “Now, you keep asking your guests, what’s the justification? There is no justification. What’s he going to say tomorrow, the attorney general? Here’s my guess: ‘We’ve been negotiating with Trump and his lawyers since February when we found out they had this information. We were getting nowhere, and then we know or we heard that some documents were being destroyed.’”
“There is no justification for sending 30 friggin’ FBI agents to the former president’s compound in Mar-a-Lago in early morning and conducting themselves this way or in any other cases in which they’ve done exactly the same thing,” Levin stated. “The FBI is corrupt.”
“This is the worst attack on this republic in modern history. Period,” Levin continued, as was reported by VIN. “And it’s not just an attack on Donald Trump. It’s an attack on everybody who supports him. It’s an attack on anybody who dares to raise serious questions about Washington, D.C., and the establishment in both parties. I haven’t heard a… thing from the Republican leadership in the Senate! Have you? Not one of those guys has put out a statement. Because they’re weak. That’s why.”
World News Daily reported that an article that appeared in the Daily Mail of the UK revealed that former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernard Kerik is of the belief that Democrats in power in Washington are capable of trying to assassinate Trump to prevent him from running in 2024 presidential race.
“I would not put assassination beyond these people,” Kerik said, if the FBI raid this week on Trump’s home fails to lead to criminal charges.
WND reported that Kerik said he was “deathly afraid” for the former president when federal authorities, weaponized against their political foes by the Biden administration, went to Mar-a-Lago.
Kerik said he feared Democrats have exhausted all their options to try to make sure Trump doesn’t run again. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already has orchestrated two failed impeach-and-remove schemes, one that happened after he left office, as was reported by WND.
And critics of the Democrats’ schemes have said her partisan committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol essentially is her third barrage against Trump.
WND reported that Kerik was on The Balance with Eric Bolling, and explained, “If you remember back in 2016, right before he got elected, I was in Washington D.C.
“I was at a couple of different social events, and I hear people talking, they said the Democrats want this guy so bad that they wouldn’t put assassination behind it. And I’m gonna tell you something, they’ve tried impeachment, they’ve tried another impeachment, they’ve tried one investigation after another.
“This is about one thing: this is about stopping him from running in 2024. And I’m gonna tell you something, I’m not into conspiracies, I’m not into anti-government rhetoric. This is the first time in my lifetime that I would say I am deathly afraid for Donald Trump. I would not put assassination behind these people.”
The Epoch Times reported that court records show that a federal district judge approved search warrants on Aug. 5, days before the FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s resort in Florida.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart issued warrants in response to multiple requests, including a warrant for electronic communications suspected to be relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation, according to docket entries, as was reported by The Epoch Times.
Reinhart is one of three magistrate judges for the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida’s West Palm Beach location, which encompasses Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
The warrant applications, the orders approving the applications, and other documents are under seal, meaning they are not available to the public, The Epoch Times reported.
Two other magistrate judges work out of the location. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ryon McCabe had no search warrant applications come before him on Friday, the docket shows, the report indicated.
The other, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman, granted a search warrant on Aug. 8, according to the docket. The records in that case are also sealed. The FBI has declined to comment on the raid, as was reported by The Epoch Times.
Reinhart was a senior prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida during the prosecution of late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the report in The Epoch Times. Shortly after a non-prosecution agreement was reached with Epstein, who pleaded guilty to a single state-level charge in exchange for not being prosecuted by federal officials, Reinhart “joined Epstein’s payroll,” according to documents entered by lawyers for women Epstein allegedly abused, as was reported by The Epoch Times.
The report indicated that Reinhart, a criminal defense attorney at the time, represented “numerous Epstein employees and pilots” in civil cases filed against Epstein by alleged victims, including Epstein’s housekeeper Louella Ruboyo and pilots Larry Morrison.
“On information and belief, Reinhart’s representation of these individuals was paid, directly or indirectly, by Epstein,” one document says, according to The Epoch Times report. “Such representations are in contravention of Justice Department regulations and Florida bar rules. Such representations also give, at least, the improper appearance that Reinhart may have attempted to curry with Epstein and then reap his reward through favorable employment.”
Reinhart responded with a motion for sanctions, saying the documents contained “unfounded factual and legal accusations.” The Epoch Times reported that he asked for leave to intervene in the case.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, a George W. Bush appointee, rejected the bid, ruling that Reinhart did not share a common question of law with the legal action in question, according to the report.
Reinhart was sworn in as a magistrate judge in 2018. Magistrate judges are chosen by other judges.
The AP reported that Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized it.
The FBI reached out to the Secret Service shortly before serving a warrant, a third person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. Secret Service agents contacted the Justice Department and were able to validate the warrant before facilitating access to the estate, the person said.
The Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information since the National Archives and Records Administration said it had received from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of White House records, including documents containing classified information, earlier this year, according to the AP report. The National Archives said Trump should have turned over that material upon leaving office, and it asked the Justice Department to investigate.
There are multiple federal laws governing the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain it at an unauthorized location, the AP reported. Though a search warrant does not necessarily mean criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials looking to obtain one must first demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.
Two people familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search on Monday was related to the records probe, as was reported by the AP. Agents were also looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at the estate.
Trump has previously maintained that presidential records were turned over “in an ordinary and routine process,” according to the AP report. His son Eric said on Fox News on Monday night that he had spent the day with his father and that the search happened because “the National Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.”
Asked how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago, Eric Trump said the boxes were among items that got moved out of the White House during “six hours” on Inauguration Day, as the Bidens prepared to move into the building, as was reported by the AP.
“My father always kept press clippings,” Eric Trump said on Fox News. “He had boxes, when he moved out of the White House.”
Trump made no mention of the search during a Monday evening tele-town hall on behalf of Leora Levy, the Connecticut Republican he has endorsed in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary, as was reported by the AP.
But in a social media post Monday night, Trump called it a “weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”
The AP reported that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who is considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, said on Twitter that it was “an escalation in the weaponization” of U.S. government agencies. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, said in a tweet that if Republicans win control of the U.S. House, they will investigate the Justice Department.
Trump took a different stance during the 2016 presidential campaign, frequently pointing to an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information via a private email server she used as secretary of state, as was reported by the AP. Then-FBI Director James Comey concluded that Clinton had sent and received classified information, but the FBI did not recommend criminal charges.
Thomas Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University history professor who studies and writes about the presidency told the AP that there is no precedent for a former president facing an FBI raid — even going back to Watergate. President Richard Nixon wasn’t allowed to take tapes or other materials from the White House when he resigned in 1974, Schwartz noted, and many of his papers remained in Washington for years before being transferred to his presidential library in California.
(Sources: AP, Vois Es Nais, World News Daily, The Epoch Times)