The FBI executing a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on August 8 has raised a host of questions from observers in Palm Beach to the Hamptons and beyond.
In the week since the raid, U.S. Department of Justice officials have confirmed that FBI agents who raided the home seized classified documents that Trump removed from the White House and that an attorney for Trump had told federal investigators that all classified material was previously returned. But the agency, citing the sensitivity of the documents, has stopped short of allowing the release of the affidavit that investigators showed the federal judge who approved the warrant.
“With each passing hour, only more questions mount,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), the congressman for the East End and Trump ally who’s running for governor of New York State. “So far, this reeks of abuse, partisanship, and illegitimacy. The burden is on the White House and DOJ to fully account instantly for this action.”
FBI agents removed from Mar-a-Lago 11 sets of classified documents, with some not only marked top secret but also top secret SCI, or “sensitive compartmented information,” according to a receipt of what was taken that was released August 12. The SCI designation is a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed publicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests.
The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.
“These are dark times for our nation,” Trump wrote in a statement after the search. “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence on August 17 implored fellow Republicans to stop lashing out at the FBI over the search. His pleas for restraint come as law enforcement officials warn of an escalating number of violent threats targeting federal agents and government facilities since the raid.
“Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop,” he said. “I also want to remind my fellow Republicans, we can hold the attorney general accountable for the decision he made without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel at the FBI.”
The search came as the U.S. House of Representatives is continuing its investigation to determine what role the Trump administration played in the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riots.
A district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia is also investigating whether Trump and his close associates sought to interfere in that state’s election, and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to 15 counts of tax evasion in a deal with prosecutors that could potentially make him a star witness against the company at a trial this fall.
-With Associated Press