On August 8th, the FBI conducted a raid on the home of former President Trump at his home at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach Florida.  According to the unsealed but heavily redacted affidavit, the FBI stated the justification in this way;

“The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records. The investigation began as a result of a referral the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) sent to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) on February 9, 2022, hereinafter, “NARA Referral.” The NARA Referral stated that on January 18, 2022, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA), NARA received from the office of former President DONALD J. TRUMP, hereinafter “FPOTUS,” via representatives, fifteen (15) boxes of records, hereinafter, the “FIFTEEN BOXES.” The FIFTEEN BOXES, which had been transported from the FPOTUS property at 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480, hereinafter, the “PREMISES,” a residence and club known as “Mar-a-Lago,” further described in Attachment A, were reported by NARA to contain, among other things, highly classified documents intermingled with other records.”

Critics of the President objected to the characterization of the execution of the search warrant as a raid, but more than 40 heavily armed FBI agents showed up in the pre-dawn hours at the residence while the former president was away.  The property was cordoned off and all entries and exits were guarded by heavily armed local police and Trump’s own Secret Service detail as documented in the image below taken by Getty Images photographer, Giorgio Viera on the morning of August 9th.  Given that the property is located on an island, the FBI would have also had agents in boats on the back side of the property and most likely a helicopter doing on-scene surveillance over the property.  This is quite a bit more than the standard way the FBI executes a search warrant.

Giorgio Viera | AFP | Getty Images

We’re not sure why the FBI felt as if they needed to show up armed to the teeth when the resort is closed to guests during the summer, the Trumps were not located at the residence and Mar-A-Lago has armed Secret Service Agents stationed at the property round the clock whether the President is there or not.

It is not as if former President Trump was unresponsive or non-cooperative with the National Archive in its efforts to recover documents it states are supposed to be in possession of the government.

The Presidential Records Act is not a Criminal Statute

In mid-January, fifteen boxes of presidential records at Mar-a-Lago were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration. The transfer was the result of a Trump representative telling the agency in December 2021 that there were records in Florida for nearly a year after he left office. The agency says that under federal law, all records have to be “preserved”, but not necessarily kept in the sole hands of the National Archives. Copies of these records could be returned to Trump.

Trump’s representatives said they would continue to cooperate with the National Archives in locating any remaining records they wanted.

On January 31st, 2022, the National Archives said in a statement that some paper records from Trump’s Presidency had been torn up by Trump, while still in office. White House records management officials had recovered these papers from the trash and taped them together and turned them over to the archives when he left office.