Former President Donald Trump’s supporters are rallying to his defense and deepening their suspicions after FBI agents searched Trump’s Palm Beach home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday. The Justice Department has yet to explain the evidentiary basis for the raid or what laws may have been broken — and some Trump supporters are filling that vacuum of information with rage and loyalty.
After news of the search spread on Monday, supporters surrounded the estate with banners supporting Trump.
“It’s an invasion of a president’s property and his life and it cannot stand,” Trump supporter Joseph Korff said.
Some Trump loyalists told CBS News that they see a system out of balance, with multiple investigations of Trump and less emphasis on investigating suspected wrongdoing by Democrats.
“I definitely think it was unfair and suspicious,” Trump supporter Janine Kotocavage said.
Lindsey Halligan, a Florida-based attorney for the former president, was among two of Trump’s lawyers who were at Mar-a-Lago during the search. She told CBS News that the FBI targeted three rooms: Trump’s bedroom, his office and a storage room.
Sources told CBS News that the FBI took boxes and documents from Mar-a-Lago in connection to a Justice Department investigation of claims by the National Archives that it found 15 boxes of records including classified material at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year.
Several Trump allies on Capitol Hill questioned the timing of the search and called for transparency.
“This seems to be unnerving, dangerous, ill-advised and the country’s divided enough so I think we need some answers,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said.
The FBI action was the first search warrant carried out against a former president.
U.S. officials told CBS News that approval for the search came from the highest levels of the Justice Department.
Alberto Gonzales, who served under former President George W. Bush, told chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that the process to get a search warrant on Trump’s home would have required a lot of steps.
“Prosecutors took an affidavit to a federal judge, presented information, described the location to be searched, probable cause, conditions, the kind of information that they believe they were going to uncover and the judge signed off on the warrant,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said the stakes — legally and politically — for Attorney General Merrick Garland are enormous. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has vowed to open investigations into the Justice Department if Republicans win control of the House in the November midterm elections.
“When I was the attorney general, I only signed off on one search warrant. That’s how unusual it is for the attorney general to sign off on these searches,” said Gonzales.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing that President Biden was not aware of the search nor was he briefed on it.