Donald Trump is still spiraling over the recent FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, which was connected to a Justice Department investigation into the handling of government records including classified documents from the Trump administration.
After rattling off some of his familiar grievances against federal law enforcement, Trump added on Truth Social in a furious weekend meltdown: “NOW THEY RAID MY HOME, ban my lawyers and, without any witnesses allowed, break the lock that they asked us to install on the storage area that we showed them early on, which held papers that they could have had months ago for the asking, and without the ridiculous political grandstanding of a “break in” to a very storied, important, and high visibility place, just before the Midterm Elections. The whole World was watching as the FBI rummaged through the house, including the former First Lady’s closets (and clothing!), alone and unchecked. They even demanded that the security cameras be turned off (we refused), but there was no way of knowing if what they took was legitimate, or was there a “plant?” This was, after all, the FBI!”
Trump’s insistence federal investigators could’ve obtained records they sought had they simply asked doesn’t reflect what actually happened. For months on end, U.S. personnel including high-ranking officials at the Justice Department like Jay Bratt, who works in counterintelligence, engaged in communications with the Trump team over the government obtaining documents federal law required be held by U.S. record-keeping authorities — not stored at Mar-a-Lago. After a June gathering at the southern Florida Trump property where Bratt and other officials spoke with lawyers for Trump, at least one lawyer for the former president signed a written statement that all the documents marked as classified from a particular storage area at the resort were returned to U.S. authorities. During the recent raid, agents recovered nearly a dozen caches of government records of various restriction levels, including some that were classified.
The place at Mar-a-Lago where each recovered box was found last week wasn’t immediately clear, but it seems that written statement may have constituted deception. In other words: they tried. U.S. personnel tried other means for obtaining the documents, and the Trump team thwarted them, as best can be told. Also, there’s no real-world evidence anything was planted at Mar-a-Lago, evidence-wise. The other day, the Trump team released a statement claiming anything at Mar-a-Lago was declassified: so which is it? Is nothing at the property concerning, or is there a (supposed but in reality essentially non-existent) chance agents planted evidence?
Trump also alleged material protected by privilege was among what FBI agents seized. (The excuses just keep coming.) With amusing melodrama, he said that he formally demanded the return of those materials, but a post on Trump’s social media site isn’t exactly a legal document. “Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged “attorney-client” material, and also “executive” privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken,” Trump said. “By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!” “Truths” are what they call posts on Truth Social.