What we know about the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago


Around 9 a.m. Monday, FBI agents showed up at the entrance to Donald Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago. Their arrival would have surprised the agents of the secret services responsible for protecting the residence of the former president. When news of the FBI’s search of the property finally broke nine hours later, that surprise spread nationwide – and sparked an immediate firestorm.

Details of what officers did at Mar-a-Lago, why they were there and what they seized are still sketchy, with new details emerging regularly. That said, here’s what we currently understand of the day’s events.

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Before August 8: US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart has signed a search warrant authorizing federal law enforcement to search the former president’s residence. The warrant itself did not contain much information, as Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb said in an interview on Tuesday. It’s not unusual.

The affidavit submitted by the FBI when requesting the warrant, however, would have been much more detailed. Journalist Marcy Wheeler explained what the affidavit for the search for Trump might have included in broad strokes, but the one submitted for the search for the home of Trump adviser Roger Stone gives an idea of ​​the type of details that would have been included .

August 9, around 9 a.m.: The FBI arrives at Mar-a-Lago. As noted above, it appears the Secret Service received no prior notification. Bureau officers gained access to the property. A source who spoke with NewsNation reporter Brian Entin said that the agents were in plain clothes, so staff may have thought they were Secret Service agents, helping to explain why the news didn’t break.

The timing of the research, however, also downplayed the number of people who would be present. Mar-a-Lago is closed during the summer, when demand for spending time in South Florida is low. While the facility is now Trump’s primary residence, he is currently staying at his club in Bedminster, NJ. Only a few staff would have been present at Mar-a-Lago anyway.

Trump’s son Eric was apparently the first person to know of the FBI’s arrival, according to a meeting he gave to Fox News host Sean Hannity. Eric Trump said he was the one who told his father. He may also have been the one who informed Bobb, who was the first lawyer to arrive on the scene, sometime before 10 a.m.

When Bobb arrived, she asked to see the warrant. In an interview on a right-wing streaming service on Tuesday, she claimed officers were reluctant to share the document with her at first. In that interview, she verified that the search included a focus on documents Trump may have withdrawn from the White House.

“They also said they were looking for classified documents, evidence of a crime as far as classified documents go,” Bobb said. “So they were looking for both classified information that they believe should not have been removed from the White House, as well as presidential records.”

Trump’s legal team received a copy of the warrant. He refused to publish it, a source Told Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News, because “the burden of transparency is on the [Justice Department] to explain his reasoning. Since the warrant also includes an articulation of the potential legal violations to which the search relates, it may also be that Trump’s team wants to avoid revealing the extent of the legal threat that Trump faces.

10 a.m.: Attorney Lindsey Halligan is called in for the search. She arrives at Mar-a-Lago about an hour later. In an interview with CBS News, Halligan provided a number of details about FBI activities.

The research: It involved “30 to 40” staff members, she told CBS, with “a handful dressed in suits, but most were wearing t-shirts, cargo pants, masks and gloves.” From 10 to 15 vehicles are involved, including a van. FBI agents searched “a bedroom, a storage area and an office,” Halligan said.

The “storage area” is probably the basement. While the Justice Department was engaged earlier this year with Trump’s team about potential documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, they noted that the basement was poorly secured, prompting Trump to add a lock to the door. “When FBI agents searched the property on Monday, Bobb added, they broke through the lock,” The Washington Post reported.

The office is the establishment’s former bridal suite. This was the location of the safe, Entin reported, which he described as a “hotel-style safe”. It’s unclear how the FBI gained access to it, though experts who spoke with Slate said the bureau has tools to quickly open safes with electronic locks, like those used in hotels. In his interview with Hannity, Eric Trump said there was “nothing” in the safe, although it’s unclear whether he meant that literally or in the sense that it only contained nothing relevant to research.

Bobb and Halligan were not allowed to observe the FBI search. Halligan told CBS News they were “forced to stand outside between the ballroom and the residence on the Mar-a-Lago lot.”

Around 6:30 p.m.: The search ends. Investigators removed approximately 12 boxes of material, most or all of which apparently came from the basement.

Just then, a source texted Peter Schorsch, a former political operative who now runs a Florida politics-focused website. “Did you know that Mar-a-Lago is being raided right now?” the source asked when Schorsch called him. Neither Schorsch nor anyone outside Trump’s immediate circle did.

6:36 p.m.: Schorsch announces the news on Twitter.

Fifteen minutes later, Trump confirmed it on Truth Social. The firestorm has begun.

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