FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home tied to classified material, sources say
A senior government official told NBC News that the FBI was at Mar-a-Largo “for the majority of the day” and confirmed that the search warrant was connected to the National Archives.
Trump this year had to return 15 boxes of documents that were improperly taken from the White House, the National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, said in February.
“In mid-January 2022, NARA arranged for the transport from the Trump Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes that contained Presidential records, following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021,” the National Archives said in a statement Feb. 7.
The same month, the National Archives and Records Administration asked the Justice Department to examine whether Trump’s handling of White House records violated federal law, a story first reported by The Washington Post and subsequently confirmed by NBC News sources.
The New York Times on Monday first reported the FBI focus on the National Archives materials.
Just hours before agents searched Trump's residence, the FBI notified the Secret Service about the bureau’s plans to execute the warrant, according to a Secret Service official. The Secret Service facilitated access to the property, the official said, but did not participate in any aspect of the search.
At Justice Department headquarters, a spokesperson declined to comment. An official at the FBI Washington field office also declined to comment, and an official at the FBI field office in Miami declined to comment as well.
A senior law enforcement official in Florida confirmed that there was "law enforcement activity" at Mar-a-Largo on Monday.
The White House said it was not given a heads up.
“We did not have notice of the reported action and would refer you to the Justice Department for any additional information,” a White House official said.
Trump is not at Mar-a-Lago, his winter residence. He often spends his summers at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
The FBI search came days after Attorney General Merrick Garland told NBC News that the “most wide-ranging investigation” in Justice Department history was examining not only the rioters who invaded the Capitol and physically attacked officers, but also whether anyone was “criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another.”
The search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate came just over six years after another FBI action surrounding classified material that set the stage for Trump’s 2016 Electoral College victory: former FBI Director James Comey’s July 5, 2016, news conference about Trump's Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Comey, who broke with Justice Department protocol, declared at the time that Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” even though he said the facts did not support bringing criminal charges.
Trump was a persistent critic of Clinton's handling of classified material, claiming in 2016 that it was “the biggest political scandal since Watergate.” It was Comey's handling of the Clinton matter that was used as justification for Trump's decision to fire Comey. Trump eventually replaced Comey with Christopher Wray. He remains in the position.
Dozens of vehicles, many adorned with "Trump 2020" and U.S. flags, were parked outside Mar-a-Lago on Monday night in an apparent show of support for the former president.
Meanwhile, Republicans rallied around their party's de facto leader, who is weighing another run for president.