Former President Donald Trump said Monday that Mar-a-Lago, the Florida club that is his primary residence, is “currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” Sources tell CBS News the search is connected 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.
“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” Trump said in a statement. “After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”
Trump said, “they even broke into my safe!” A source close to Trump confirmed to CBS News that the former president was not at Mar-a-Lago on Monday and two senior Trump sources said it didn’t appear that Trump would be heading to Florida.
In an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Trump’s son, Eric Trump said that with “no notice,” “20 cars and 30 agents” descended on Mar-a-Lago. He also confirmed that the FBI conducted the search because “the National Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.”
He said of the Biden administration, “They are threatened by Donald J. Trump, and honestly, I hope — and I’m saying this for the first time — I hope he goes out and beats these guys again, because honestly, this country can’t survive this nonsense.”
In February, the National Archives asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of White House records. The National Archives said some of the documents Trump turned over to them had been ripped up and taped back together.
On Monday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman released photos from her upcoming book that appeared to show at least two instances where Trump tried to flush documents down the toilet.
Under the Presidential Records Act, documents received and sent by the president are required to be preserved by the office.
The Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment.
Trump in his statement called the raid an “attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”
A senior Trump source claimed it was “expressly political.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted a statement Monday night saying that if the Republicans take back the House in November, “we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts and leave no stone unturned.” He warned, “Attorney General Garland: preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
Trump spoke over the weekend at the CPAC convention in Dallas, where he repeated the false claim that he won the 2020 election and said “now we may have to do it again,” alluding to a 2024 run. He has been active in holding rallies for his endorsed candidates in the 2022 midterm primaries.
At the end of his statement Monday, Trump called for donations to his “Save America” PAC.
A senior White House official tells CBS News the West Wing was given no advanced heads-up of the FBI search on former President Trump’s Florida home.
“No advance knowledge — some (in the White House) learned from old media, some from social media,” said the senior official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
The Biden White House has gone to great lengths to limit the president and senior officials’ interactions with top Justice Department officials to avoid any hint of political pressure or impropriety.
There are several investigations known to be underway into the former president, although a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James into the Trump Organization and an inquiry in Fulton County, Georgia into whether Trump and his allies interfered in the 2020 election would likely not require involvement from federal authorities.
Following the House Jan. 6 committee’s blockbuster public hearings this summer, the Justice Department began an investigation into a scheme by Trump allies to put up phony electors in seven battleground states that President Joe Biden won.
Arden Farhi, Jeff Pegues, Andres Triay, Ed O’Keefe and Fin Gómez contributed to this report.