Former US President Donald Trump has claimed that the FBI raided his Florida home and broke open a safe.
Mr Trump said in a statement that his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, was “occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”
The search on Monday was reportedly related to an investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of official documents.
“These are dark times for our country,” Mr Trump said in a statement. “Nothing like this beofre ever happened to a United States president”.
The FBI and the Justice Department have both declined to comment on the reported search.
An unnamed law enforcement official revealed that the Secret Service was informed shortly before the warrant was served at around 10:00 local time (1400 GMT), and that agents protecting Mr. Trump assisted the FBI investigators.
According to the source, several boxes were taken away, adding that no doors were kicked down and that the raid was over by late afternoon.
A judge must sign a federal search warrant. Though such a warrant does not imply that criminal charges are likely, law enforcement agencies must first demonstrate the possibility of finding evidence of illegality.
According to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, there has never been a search warrant quite like this in American history. He called it “a big deal.”
The Presidential Records Act (PRA) requires American presidents to transfer all of their letters, work documents, and emails to the National Archives (NA).
Other federal laws govern the handling of classified documents as well.
The National Archives announced in February that it had retrieved 15 boxes of papers from Mar-a-Lago that Mr Trump was supposed to turn over when he left the White House.
Later, the agency informed Congress that the boxes contained “items marked as classified national security information.”
According to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Christina Bobb, some papers were seized during the search.
The dramatic increase in law enforcement scrutiny of Mr Trump comes as the Republican prepares to run for president again in 2024.
The search has enraged some of Donald Trump’s supporters. A crowd gathered outside Mar-a-Lago to wave flags and express their displeasure.
“I’ve seen enough,” House Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy said. The Department of Justice has reached an unacceptably dangerous level of weaponized politicization.”
Meanwhile, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from third world Marxist dictatorships.”
The US National Archives has requested a legal investigation into Trump.
Mr Trump stated that he had worked with all relevant government agencies and that the “unannounced raid on my home was neither necessary nor appropriate.”
He called it “prosecutorial misconduct” and “the weaponization of the justice system” to bar him from running for President again.
“This kind of assault could only happen in broken, Third-World countries,” he said. “Unfortunately, America has now become one of those countries, corrupt to unprecedented levels.”
“They even tampered with my safe!”
During the time of the alleged raid, the former president was at Trump Tower in New York City.
The president’s second-oldest son, Eric Trump, told Fox News that the FBI executed the search warrant at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in connection with an investigation into the handling of National Archives records.
According to NA officials, the former president illegally ripped up many documents. They claim that some of them had to be taped back together.
Mr Trump called reports that he mishandled official records “fake news” at the time.
A senior Trump adviser in Palm Beach told CBS that the new federal search at Mar-a-Lago was for presidential records.
“This is about the PRA,” said a Trump source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“When was the last time you heard about a PRA raid?”
“They [the FBI] just left, and they left with very little,” the source added.
According to New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman’s forthcoming book, Confidence Man, staff at the White House residency occasionally found wads of paper clogging a toilet, and they believed Mr Trump was the flusher.
Ms Haberman has shared photos of paper in a toilet bowl at the White House.
A senior official in the White House has confirmed that President Joe Biden’s administration was not informed about the FBI search.
The White House has stated to limit its interactions with top Justice Department officials in order to avoid any appearance of political influence or impropriety.
During his presidential campaign, Mr. Biden promised to stay out of Justice Department matters. The president and his family are also awaiting word from federal prosecutors on whether their son, Hunter Biden, will face tax evasion or other federal charges.
There is a thing to be thought that the timing of this search is intended to avoid the long-held maxim that the Justice Department does not engage in politically sensitive actions close to an election.
We are only three months away from the election that will determine the composition of the next Congress, and there has rarely been a more critical time in American politics.
Mr Trump is certain that the motives behind the “raid” were entirely political, with the goal of sabotaging his chances of running for President in 2024.
We do not know much, but Mr Trump’s supporters are enraged by what has occurred.
It is unclear that why a search warrant was required to enter Mar-a-Lago when the former president stated that he had been cooperating with the relevant government agencies, but the move by the Justice Department is significant.