PALM BEACH, Fla. — The FBI has searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Palm Beach residence. That's according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, according to the Associated Press.
Trump released a statement on his Truth Social social media platform just before 7 p.m. Monday.
"These are dark times for our nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before," Trump said.
Trump did not specify why the FBI were searching his home, but called it "prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the justice system, and an attack by radical left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for president in 2024."
"They even broke into my safe!" exclaimed Trump.
When asked for a comment, a spokesman for the FBI in South Florida had no comment.
The search intensifies the months-long probe into how classified documents ended up in more than a dozen boxes located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. It occurs amid a separate grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and adds to the potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run.
"He did not lose his top-secret clearance," former FBI Special Agent Stuart Kaplan told WPTV. "It just may be that if he retained classified information and there was no more need for him to be in possession that could potentially be a violation of national security law."
Familiar battle lines, forged during a a four-year presidency shadowed by FBI and congressional investigations, quickly took shape again Monday night. Trump and his allies sought to cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 — even though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge of it, and the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a high-ranking official in a Republican-led Justice Department.
Trump was not in South Florida at the time of the search.
Supporters and protesters alike gathered outside Mar-a-Lago upon learning of the FBI's presence, leading to sometimes hostile shouting matches between them.
"He's being treated like no other president is being treated before," Michael Barnett, with the Palm Beach County Republican Party, said. "This is unprecedented. He's being suppressed and oppressed by forces on both sides of the aisle."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose endorsement by Trump in 2018 helped him win a seat in the governor's mansion, and other Florida Republicans were quick to defend the former president, denouncing the FBI's actions.