Tuesday, August 9, 2022

White House Files Under Scrutiny in Trump Search, Signaling Inquiry’s Depth

Yeah, let's see the files the FBI Seized. Perhaps they were ooking for evidence of criminal complicity on January 6th, no?

At the New York Times, "Questions swirl about what exactly the F.B.I. was looking for, and why":

The F.B.I.’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s home in Florida on Monday continued to rock Washington and, more broadly, American politics, amid a swirl of questions about what led the Justice Department to take such a stunning step.

The search came after a visit this spring to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla., by federal agents — including a Justice Department counterintelligence official — to discuss materials that the former president had improperly taken with him when he left the White House.

Mr. Trump was briefly present for that visit, as was at least one of his lawyers, according to people familiar with the situation. Those materials contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents. By law, presidential materials must be preserved and sent to the National Archives when a president leaves office. It remained unclear what specific materials agents might have been seeking on Monday or why the Justice Department and the F.B.I. decided to go ahead with the search now.

Mr. Trump had delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, doing so only in January, when the threat of action to retrieve them grew. The case was referred to the Justice Department by the archives early this year.

In carrying out the search, federal agents broke open a safe, the former president said.

The search was the latest remarkable turn in the long-running investigations into Mr. Trump’s actions before, during and after his presidency — and even as he weighs announcing another candidacy for the White House.

It came as the Justice Department has stepped up its separate inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after his defeat in the 2020 election and as he also faces an accelerating criminal inquiry in Georgia and civil actions in New York.

Mr. Trump has long cast the F.B.I. as a tool of Democrats who have been out to get him. The search set off a furious reaction among his supporters in the Republican Party and on the far right.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader in the House, suggested that he intended to investigate Attorney General Merrick B. Garland if Republicans took control of the chamber in November. A delegation of House Republicans was scheduled to travel to Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., for a dinner with him on Tuesday night.

Aggressive language was pervasive on the right as Monday night turned into Tuesday morning.

“This. Means. War,” the Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump outlet, wrote in an online post that was quickly amplified by a Telegram account connected to Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s onetime political adviser.

The F.B.I. would have needed to persuade a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant. Proceeding with a search on a former president’s home would almost surely have required sign-off from top officials at the bureau and at the Justice Department.

The search, however, does not mean prosecutors have determined that Mr. Trump committed a crime...