A new report from Newsweek claims a confidential human source — meaning an informant — provided information used by federal law enforcement in conducting the raid this Monday on Donald Trump’s southern Florida property known as Mar-a-Lago.
The FBI’s search of the property was angled towards the recovery of any records from the Trump administration that were at Mar-a-Lago but that federal law required be provided to record-keeping authorities — not kept among the ex-president’s possessions. The raid specifically targeted classified documents potentially at the Trump-owned property. Such materials were referenced in an attachment to the search warrant as among items federal agents would be seizing, assuming they found such documents. Notably, Trump himself signed legislation into law that evidently makes improperly holding onto classified documents outside official contexts a felony. The National Archives previously stated it found materials designated as classified among 15 boxes of presidential records recovered from Mar-a-Lago, and the agency referred the issue to the Justice Department for further investigation.
As for the confidential source, Newsweek says — based on revelations from two officials in the federal government who go unnamed in the outlet’s report — that the Mar-a-Lago raid was based “largely” on info gathered from that individual. That person “was able to identify what classified documents former President Trump was still hiding and even the location of those documents,” according to Newsweek. The two sources who provided Newsweek with information to that effect also stated that federal law enforcement deliberately scheduled the Mar-a-Lago raid for a time Trump wouldn’t be there. He was in New York when FBI agents showed up in Florida early Monday. One source for Newsweek cited a concern in the ranks of federal law enforcement about the potential destruction of records at Mar-a-Lago that federal rules demanded be preserved.
An 1970s piece of federal law called the Presidential Records Act that governs the handling of an administration’s records and was imposed in connection to the Nixon scandals outlines potential consequences for violations including jail-time, financial penalties, and disqualification from holding “any office under the United States.” According to Newsweek‘s summary of revelations from one of the sources from the U.S. government, the federal grand jury working on the matter “concluded that there had been a violation of the law,” although it’s unclear who might be implicated. The law in question is evidently the Presidential Records Act. Although Trump predictably lashed out over the raid, the search itself was reportedly conducted without much fanfare. FBI personnel engaged in prior communication with the Secret Service, which remains responsible for Trump’s protection, and agents who participated wore regular clothes without familiar FBI windbreakers.
In the time before the Monday raid, FBI Director Christopher Wray — a Trump appointee — approved it, per a Newsweek source. FBI agents participating in the operation recovered some 10 boxes from the Trump property, although what was in those boxes wasn’t immediately available to the public. While at Mar-a-Lago, FBI agents focused on areas including Trump’s office and residence area in addition to basement storage facilities. Among other concerns, there’s also the possibility of a counter-intelligence investigation amid worries about who might have improperly accessed any federal records — including defense secrets a Newsweek source referenced — while the documents were at Mar-a-Lago.