The former president confirmed the presence of FBI agents at Mar-a-Lago and said “they broke my security as well.” He was at Trump Tower in New York when the search warrant was executed in Florida, a person familiar told CNN.
“My beautiful home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in a statement Monday evening.
The unusual move to search the former president’s home raises the stakes for the Justice Department and Trump’s legal troubles continue on multiple fronts. Trump is expected to announce in the coming months that he will launch another bid for the White House in 2024.
The search began early Monday morning and law enforcement officials focused on the area of the club where Trump’s offices and private residences are located, a person familiar with the matter said.
The FBI’s search examined where the documents were kept, and boxes of items were taken, according to another person familiar with the investigation. After the National Archives retrieved White House records from Mar-a-Lago in recent months, the FBI had to verify Monday that nothing was left behind.
Trump’s lawyer, Christina Papp, said the FBI seized the documents. “President Trump and his legal team have cooperated with FBI and DOJ officials every step of the way. The FBI conducted an unannounced raid and seized the paper,” Popp said.
Plans to search Mar-a-Lago would have been reviewed by high levels of the FBI and Justice Department.
CNN has reached out to the FBI for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment to CNN. A White House official said they were not notified of the search.
Inquiry into documents
Three sources familiar with the trip confirmed to CNN that investigators visited Mar-a-Lago in recent months to speak with Trump’s lawyers about material taken during Trump’s time in the White House. Trump stayed at Mar-a-Lago during the visit, sources said.
Trump’s lawyers showed investigators the documents at the time, though it was unclear which ones or how many, one of the sources said.
In April and May, Trump’s aides at Mar-a-Lago were interviewed by the FBI as part of an investigation into the president’s handling of records, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The FBI on Monday had to verify that nothing was left out, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
“Wrongful disposal of classified documents is a federal crime, so if you have to fill out that affidavit and list it as a crime, you can list it as a crime,” said Eli Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor. CNN Senior Legal Analyst.
Honig told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” that the search was timed in line with a longstanding department rule not to make politically sensitive moves within 90 days of an election.
“Today is exactly 90 days from the midterms, I think maybe 91 or 92 days. That policy, that’s probably one of the reasons why they did it today, because they want to be clear if they explain it. The 90-day rule,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Shawna Mizell contributed to this report.