Re: FBI's search of Trump's Florida estate: Why now?

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If Nancy Pelosi dies tomorrow...

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Aug 9, 2022, 11:20:02 PM8/9/22
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In article <t1qp9j$378qs$4...@news.freedyn.de>
<governo...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> The outlaw FBI is out of control and should be disbanded. All former FBI agents should be blacklisted from law enforcement.
>

WASHINGTON — The FBI's unprecedented search of former President
Donald Trump's Florida residence ricocheted around government,
politics and a polarized country Tuesday along with questions as
to why the Justice Department — notably cautious under Attorney
General Merrick Garland — decided to take such a drastic step.

Answers weren't quickly forthcoming.

Agents on Monday searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, which is
also a private club, as part of a federal investigation into
whether the former president took classified records from the
White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the
matter said. It marked a dramatic escalation of law enforcement
scrutiny of Trump, who faces an array of inquiries tied to his
conduct in the waning days of his administration.

From echoes of Watergate to the more immediate House probe of
the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Washington, a city used to
sleepy Augusts, reeled from one speculative or accusatory
headline to the next. Was the Justice Department politicized?
What prompted it to seek authorization to search the estate for
classified documents now, months after it was revealed that
Trump had taken boxes of materials with him when he left the
White House after losing the 2020 election?

Garland has not tipped his hand despite an outcry from some
Democrats impatient over whether the department was even
pursuing evidence that has surfaced in the Jan. 6 probe and
other investigations— and from Republicans who were swift to
echo Trump's claims that he was the victim of political
prosecution.

All Garland has said publicly is that "no one is above the law."

A federal judge had to sign off on the warrant after
establishing that FBI agents had shown probable cause before
they could descend on Trump's shuttered-for-the-season home — he
was in New York, a thousand or so miles away, at the time of the
search.

Monday's search intensified the months-long probe into how
classified documents ended up in boxes of White House records
located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. A separate grand jury
is investigating efforts to overturn the results of the 2020
presidential election, and it all adds to potential legal peril
for Trump as he lays the groundwork for a potential repeat run
for the White House.

Trump and his allies quickly sought to cast the search as a
weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-
driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 —
though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge and
current FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed by Trump
five years ago.

Trump, disclosing the search in a lengthy statement late Monday,
asserted that agents had opened a safe at his home, and he
described their work as an "unannounced raid" that he likened to
"prosecutorial misconduct."

Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment
on the search, including whether Garland had personally
authorized it. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
said the West Wing first learned of the search from public media
reports and the White House had not been briefed in the run-up
or aftermath.

"The Justice Department conducts investigations independently
and we leave any law enforcement matters to them," she said. "We
are not involved."

About two dozen Trump supporters stood in protest at midmorning
Tuesday in the Florida summer heat and sporadic light rain on a
bridge near the former president's residence. One held a sign
reading "Democrats are Fascists" while others carried flags
saying "2020 Was Rigged," "Trump 2024" and Biden's name with an
obscenity. Some cars honked in support as they passed.

Trump's Vice President Mike Pence, a potential 2024 rival,
tweeted Tuesday, "Yesterday's action undermines public
confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland
must give a full accounting to the American people as to why
this action was taken and he must do so immediately."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Pence, saying,
"Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should
already have provided answers to the American people and must do
so immediately."

"The FBI director was appointed by Donald Trump," said House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when asked about GOP allegations
that the raid showed the politicization of the Justice
Department. She added, "Facts and truth, facts and law, that's
what it's about."

Trump was meeting late Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey,
club with members of the Republican Study Committee, a group
headed by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana that says it is committed to
putting forth his priorities in Congress.

The FBI reached out to the Secret Service shortly before serving
a warrant, a third person familiar with the matter told The
Associated Press. Secret Service agents contacted the Justice
Department and were able to validate the warrant before
facilitating access to the estate, the person said.

The Justice Department has been investigating the potential
mishandling of classified information since the National
Archives and Records Administration said it had received from
Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of White House records, including documents
containing classified information, earlier this year. The
National Archives said Trump should have turned over that
material upon leaving office, and it asked the Justice
Department to investigate.

Christina Bobb, a lawyer for Trump, said in an interview that
aired on Real America's Voice on Tuesday that investigators said
they were "looking for classified information that they think
should not have been removed from the White House, as well as
presidential records."

There are multiple federal laws governing the handling of
classified records and sensitive government documents, including
statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain
it at an unauthorized location. Though a search warrant does not
necessarily mean criminal charges are near or even expected,
federal officials looking to obtain one must first demonstrate
to a judge that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.

Two people familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of
anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search
Monday was related to the records probe. Agents were also
looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or
any classified documents at the estate.

Trump has previously maintained that presidential records were
turned over "in an ordinary and routine process." His son Eric
said on Fox News on Monday night that he had spent the day with
his father and that the search happened because "the National
Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had
any documents in his possession."

Trump himself, in a social media post Monday night, called the
search a "weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by
Radical Left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for
President in 2024."

Trump took a different stance during the 2016 presidential
campaign, frequently pointing to an FBI investigation into his
Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she
mishandled classified information via a private email server she
used as secretary of state. Then-FBI Director James Comey
concluded that Clinton had sent and received classified
information, but the FBI did not recommend criminal charges.

Trump lambasted that decision and then stepped up his criticism
of the FBI as agents began investigating whether his campaign
had colluded with Russia to tip the 2016 election. He fired
Comey during that probe, and though he appointed Wray months
later, he repeatedly criticized him, too, as president.

The probe is hardly the only legal headache confronting Trump. A
separate investigation related to efforts by him and his allies
to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election — which
led to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol — has also
been intensifying in Washington. Several former White House
officials have received grand jury subpoenas.

And a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is
investigating whether Trump and his close associates sought to
interfere in that state's election, which was won by Democrat
Joe Biden.

https://www.startribune.com/fbis-search-of-trumps-florida-estate-
why-now/600196877/

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