Claim: Former President Donald Trump has accused President Joe Biden of sending the FBI to raid Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago.
Rating: This claim is FALSE. Biden has denied knowing about the FBI investigation of Trump. In addition, the FBI is led by Trump appointee Christopher Wray. Trump’s claim is to distract from him knowingly having classified documents in his possession at Mar-a-Lago, and refusing to return them to the federal government when requested. Those actions are a federal crime, according to several former Trump allies.
On Aug. 8, 2022, the FBI executed a search on Former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, in order to recover classified government documents that Trump had refused to return.
After, Trump said in a post on Truth Social that President Joe Biden “knew all about” the FBI search and that it was “a coordinated attack with Radical Left Democrat state.”
Biden has denied having prior knowledge of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, saying, “I didn’t have any advance notice. None. Zero. Not one single bit.”
In addition, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was approved on a bipartisan basis, and was not led by Democratic politicians. The FBI is led by Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump in 2017.
In order for the FBI to access Mar-a-Lago, they had to have a search warrant. In order to get the search warrant approved by a judge, they had to provide a good reason, known in legal terms as “probable cause,” the standard in the United States for which a search warrant to enter someone’s home without permission is granted. The search warrant was approved on Aug. 5 by Federal Judge Bruce Reinhart, who serves in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Reinhart has given political donations to both Democratic and Republican politicians.
Trump’s claim of the FBI search being a political attack can be seen as a way to distract from the reason why the FBI had to enter Mar-a-Lago. It was because Trump violated the Presidential Records Act, which established that all documents handled by the President have to be surrendered to the Archivist of the United States as soon as the president leaves office. Unauthorized removal of classified information is also a federal crime.
In May 2021, the National Archives and Records Administration noticed that presidential documents were missing. They contact Trump’s lawyers to request that the former President return them. In January 2022, Trump’s team had returned 15 boxes of documents, including 184 classified documents. And 25 documents that were marked “top secret,” the highest level of classified documents. It also included correspondences between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (which Trump called “love letters”).
Trump’s lawyers Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb also signed a written declaration to the Department of Justice promising that all classified material had been returned, according to the New York Times. But an anonymous informant told the FBI that there were still classified documents that Trump had not returned, according to the Wall Street Journal, a conservative newspaper. This indicates that Trump willingly hid documents from the FBI.
Over a year after Trump was first requested to hand over the documents, the former president still refused to return them. Said Will Hurd, a former CIA agent and former Texas Republican congressman, to the Washington Post: “Trump and his lawyers admitted to and then handed over presidential documents improperly taken from and stored outside the White House. Of course the FBI had probable cause to go in looking for more.”
On Aug. 8, the FBI recovered over 11,000 government documents from Mar-a-Lago, with 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential. Some documents also detailed “a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities,” according to the Washington Post. In total the government has recovered over 300 classified documents from Trump, documents that Trump should not have taken with him to Mar-a-Lago.
Former attorney general William Barr, who was appointed by Trump to lead the DOJ from 2019 to 2020, said there is no reason classified documents should have been at Mar-a-Lago.
“There is no scenario, legally, under which the president gets to keep the government documents — whether it’s classified or unclassified,” he told Fox News. “If it deals with government stuff, it goes back to the government.”
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen said to MSNBC that Trump could face a criminal indictment “relatively soon” and that the FBI had been “tiptoeing” against charging Trump with a crime because he’s a former president. But Cohen also added, “Donald is a clear and present danger to the national security and safety of this country and if this doesn’t prove it, I’m not sure that anything will.”