Prior to the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort on Monday, federal authorities were concerned that Trump or his aides were less than forthcoming after returning 15 boxes of documents illegally taken from the White House at the end of Trump’s term. Apparently not convinced that everything had been returned after interviewing aides to the former President in April and May of this year, it turns out that they were right.
The FBI removed at least a dozen boxes additional boxes stored in the basement at Mar-a-Lago.
“It is a federal crime to remove classified documents wrongly. And so if you are filling out that affidavit and you have to list the crime, you can list that as the crime,” said Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor and a CNN senior legal analyst.
The National Archives has been “aggressively” contacting people in Trump’s inner circle to return documents believed to be covered by the Presidential Records Act after officials began to suspect Trump’s representatives weren’t being entirely truthful, The Washington Post reported.
Four investigators from the FBI and Justice Department – including the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the DOJ – met with Trump attorneys Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran at the ex-President’s Palm Beach resort in June. According to CNN, Trump stopped to speak to the agents but didn’t answer any questions.
In regards to the timing of the search, Honig told Erin Burnett – host of CNN’s OutFront – that the DOJ has a longstanding rule not to make any moves considered to be “politically sensitive” within three months of an election.
“Today is just about 90 days out exactly from the midterms, I think maybe 91 or 92 days out. That policy, that may be a reason why they did it today because they want to stay clear of that if they’re interpreting that as a 90 day rule,” he said.
Trump and his allies have decried the search as politically motivated and government overreach. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) accused the Dept. of “weaponized politicization,” on Twitter and sent a warning to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar. pic.twitter.com/dStAjnwbAT
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 9, 2022
The chair of the House Oversight Committee investigating Trump’s handling of the classified document, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), doesn’t think the DOJ is being aggressive enough. Maloney called on the Dept. to “fully investigate President Trump’s potentially leave grave mishandling of classified information.”
Despite criticism from the right, and the typical gaslighting that comes with deflection away from the gravity of Trump’s potential crime, the FBI received and executed the warrant legally – even coordinating with Secret Service officials at Mar-A-Lago to prevent any complications.
That FBI Director Christopher Wray has been a loyal Trump appointee debunks claims that the search was politically motivated.
The Justice Department currently has two active investigations into Donald Trump – one for his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election results and the other for his handling of White House documents.
Let’s hope at least one of them sticks.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick