Federal investigators have searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, including the contents of a safe, the former president said in a statement on Monday, the latest indication of an intensifying criminal investigation by the Justice Department into his affairs.
The FBI executed a search warrant Monday morning at Trump’s residence that came as part of an investigation into Trump’s potentially unlawful removal and destruction of White House records after his presidency, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The move by the Justice Department to search Mar-a-Lago over the removal of 15 boxes of presidential records from the White House, including classified documents, as well as the destruction of other materials, marks a dramatic escalation in the inquiry.
“My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in a bitter statement on Monday evening, adding: “They even broke into my safe!”
Trump has previously come under scrutiny for his flagrant violations of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 – mandating the preservation of White House documents – but the search for the first time, appears to indicate potential legal jeopardy for Trump over his records practices.
The statute governing the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of presidential records, though rarely enforced, carries significant penalties including: fines, imprisonment and, most notably, disqualification from holding current or future office.
The former president was not at Mar-a-Lago at the time of the raid and was at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, one of the sources said. By the time Trump issued the statement, suggesting the raid was ongoing, the FBI had already left the property.
During his presidency, Mar-a-Lago was known as Trump’s “winter White House”. Trump and his wife, Melania, returned to the Florida resort after leaving Washington and since then, the president has made it the center of his political dealings.