Former U.S. President Donald Trump said FBI agents have raided his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
“My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in lengthy statement Monday evening. “After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.”
The circumstances of the search were not immediately clear, according to media reports. The Justice Department, however, has been actively investigating the discovery of classified information in boxes of records that were taken to Trump’s Florida residence after he left the White House in January 2021.
Trump, who was in New York City on Monday, did not say why the raid took place. The FBI and Justice Department did not immediately comment on Trump’s statement.
Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search to The Associated Press. Iverson also declined to comment about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search, according to media reports.
A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, told the AP the search happened earlier Monday.
Earlier this year, the National Archives and Records Administration said it had found classified material in 15 boxes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. It then referred the case to the Justice Department.
The Presidential Records Act of 1978 established that all presidential records are owned by the public and automatically transfer into the custody of the National Archives as soon as a commander-in-chief leaves office. All presidential libraries and museums are part of the National Archives.
“Presidential records are the property of the United States government and are administered by the National Archives,” Meghan Ryan Guthorn, acting deputy chief operating officer of the agency, told VOA earlier this year. “So, all presidential papers, materials and records in the custody of the National Archives, whether donated, seized or governed by the Presidential Records Act, are owned by the federal government.”
The former president accused the government of “prosecutorial misconduct,” saying the raid amounts to the “weaponization of the Justice System.”
“Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” he said.
Trump said FBI agents even broke into the safe in his home.
Evan Corcoran, a lawyer representing Trump, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
The developments come as Trump has been preparing for a potential presidential run in 2024, possibly setting himself up for a rematch against President Joe Biden. He accused Democrats of “desperately” not wanting him to run again.
Top Biden White House officials said they were not given advance notice of the raid, according to media reports.
The Justice Department has been investigating the removal of official presidential records to Trump’s Florida estate at the conclusion of his presidency. It is not clear if the raid has anything to do with that investigation.
Trump has previously said he agreed to return certain records to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, calling it “an ordinary and routine process.”
The Justice Department also has been investigating efforts by allies of Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The department has not announced whether it will seek criminal charges against Trump in that investigation.
Dora Mekouar contributed to this report. Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.