About two dozen FBI agents entered Trump’s Palm Beach resort of Mar-a-Lago at about 9 a.m. on Aug. 8 and left about 10 hours later with “a handful of boxes of documents,” one of Trump’s attorneys on the scene, Christina Bobb, told The Epoch Times.
“I didn’t actually get to oversee the search, they wouldn’t let anybody see what they were doing,” she said.
It isn’t clear what legal basis the FBI had for the raid. The agents had a search warrant signed by a judge. However, the affidavit explaining the basis—its probable cause—was filed under seal, and Trump’s lawyers weren’t allowed to examine it, Bobb said.
In general, the agents were looking for “what they deemed to be presidential records,” she said.
“I don’t think there was anything of substance.”
Trump’s legal team will take steps to obtain the affidavit, according to Bobb.
There has been a dispute between the National Archives and Trump about whether he has documents that should be stored at the archives under the U.S. Presidential Records Act.
Trump has been cooperative on that front and had previously invited the FBI to Mar-a-Lago to examine the White House records he had in storage at the time, Bobb said.
Potentially Illegal“I’m stunned and dismayed,” Marc Ruskin, a 27-year FBI veteran and former federal prosecutor, told The Epoch Times. “The disregard for traditional norms and apparent lack of concern with the appearance of impropriety is indicative of an abandonment of even a veneer of independence and objectivity.”
Former federal prosecutor Mike Davis went even further, saying the raid may have been illegally invasive.
The FBI had to first determine that requests for the documents or even subpoenas wouldn’t be sufficient, said Davis, who formerly advised Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on judicial nominations and now heads The Article III Project.
“There’s zero evidence” that Trump wouldn’t have cooperated, Davis said.
“There was no allegation or evidence that he [Trump] was destroying any of this evidence or putting it into the wrong hands. This is banana republic-level tactics from the Biden Justice Department,” he said.
Even if Trump took classified documents, he took possession of them when he was still chief executive and had the authority to declassify them, according to Davis.
Bobb suggested that the invocation of classified documents was a disingenuous attempt of “shrouding this in a national security blanket.”
“They don’t want to disclose what they’re doing, because what they’re doing is wrong. And so they want to hide it behind the premise of ‘Oh, it’s a matter of national security and classified documents, so we can’t disclose to you what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. But just trust us. We’re not lying to you,’” she said. “Well, no, the American people aren’t going to stand for that anymore.”
Even if the DOJ tried to charge Trump with withholding documents, it wouldn’t hold up because the statute in question requires a “willful” violation, and Trump would have had to have “some malicious intent” to take specific documents, according to Bobb.
History of Missing DocumentsIf Trump had documents that should go to the archives, it would add him to a lineup of former government officials.
Former FBI Director James Comey took his handwritten notes when he was fired by Trump in 2017. His home wasn’t raided. He handed the notes to FBI agents who came to interview him.
Immediate SkepticismThe raid prompted an immediate wave of skepticism, particularly because the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have a history of misrepresenting, breaking protocol, and even forging evidence in their case against Trump and members of his campaign.
In 2017, the FBI and DOJ obtained two extensions of a spying warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page even though the warrant was based on false or unsubstantiated allegations. The FBI later acknowledged that spying based on the extensions was illegal.
Shoe on the Other FootThe Trump raid increased the already polarized political playing field, as Republicans can now argue that home raids of former presidents are acceptable.
“They’re setting a very dangerous precedent where you can do a home raid of a former president of the United States,” Davis said, noting that such a thing has never happened “in our 250 years as a republic.”
Already, Republican lawmakers are promising to subject the DOJ and the FBI to intense scrutiny, with the expectation of reclaiming the majority in the House after the November midterms.
Judge’s Epstein ConnectionThe search warrant was issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in the Southern District of Florida. Reinhart was a senior prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida when the office reached a nonprosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epstein, who was later indicted for sex trafficking children and died by apparent suicide in a New York jail.
Upon leaving office, Reinhart went into private practice and represented multiple Epstein associates and employees in civil cases against Epstein by his alleged victims.
Reinhart was appointed a magistrate judge in 2018 by the district judges in the Southern District of Florida.
The warrant was issued on Aug. 5, the day after FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee and was questioned about multiple whistleblower reports alleging the politicization of the bureau. Wray cut the questioning short because he said he had to urgently travel. Flight records indicate he flew in the FBI private jet to his vacation retreat in the Adirondacks, according to New York Post columnist Miranda Devine.