Wednesday afternoon, August 10, Newsweek ran an exclusive report detailing the circumstances behind the raid on Donald Trump’s residence, Mar-a-Lago, citing two unnamed sources. These sources are described as senior government officials with direct knowledge of the FBI’s deliberations regarding the execution of the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, August 8. The DOJ personnel say the search was based on information from an FBI informant and about “the illegal possession of classified ‘national defense information.'”
FBI Sources Say Mar-a-Lago Raid “Apolitical”
The agents said the raid was timed to occur during Trump’s absence from the residence. Newsweek reports they attempted to keep the operation low-key. One agent, described as a senior Justice Department official and 30-year veteran of the FBI, said, “What a spectacular backfire.” He or she added:
“They wanted to punctuate the fact that this was a routine law enforcement action, stripped of any political overtones, and yet [they] got exactly the opposite.”
Other details reported in the story suggest that an informer told the FBI what classified documents former President Trump was hiding and where. The source said the affidavit supporting the warrant “contained abundant and persuasive detail that Trump continued to possess the relevant records in violation of federal law …” The official insisted “that [Attorney General Merrick] Garland had no prior knowledge of the date and time of the specific raid, nor was he asked to approve it.”
The sources claimed that preparations to conduct this search began weeks ago and that a grand jury concluded there was a violation of the Presidential Records Act. They said the secret service director was given advance warning of the raid so they could coordinate access to the grounds with the FBI.
Trump’s Crimes Or Every President’s?
Wednesday night, Trump posted clips from a column by James Bovard on his social media account. Bovard is an iconic chronicler of abuses of government power and called the law Trump is accused of breaking – the Presidential Records Act – “the Presidential Damn-Near-Perpetual-Secrecy Act.” He wrote, “Former presidents pocket multimillion-dollar advances for their memoirs while their records are mostly quarantined for decades from the citizens they often misgoverned.”
The piece detailed how every president from Nixon onward has held back access to their records and recordings. Trump quoted Bovard, “Obama White House lawyers repeatedly invoked the Presidential Records Act to ‘delay the release of thousands of pages of records from President Bill Clinton’s White House.'” And:
“At the end of his presidency, Barack Obama trucked 30 million pages of his administration’s records to Chicago, promising to digitize them and eventually put them online — a move that outraged historians. More than five years after Obama’s presidency ended, the National Archives webpage reveals that zero pages have been digitized and disclosed.”
Pleading the Fifth
Trump was in New York at the time of the raid on Mar-a-Lago. One of the reasons was so he could testify under exam by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The former president invoked his right to remain silent against self-incrimination, initially reading from a prepared statement and then responding “same answer” to every question.
James is in the course of a three-year-long investigation into Trump and his business affairs. You might call it fulfilling a campaign promise. Before his testimony, Trump posted numerous videos to his social media account detailing attacks Ms. James made against him during her campaign for office. In the videos, James calls Trump an illegitimate president multiple times and says she looked forward to going to work every day and suing him.
By Wednesday afternoon, however, Mr. Trump’s tone changed regarding James when he posted, “Just leaving the Attorney General’s Office – A very professional meeting.” There was no indication of what may have altered his outlook. A spokesperson for James said, “Our investigation continues.”