Federal investigators have seized documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, according to two sources familiar with the matter, the latest indication of a sharply intensifying criminal investigation by the US justice department into his affairs.
The FBI executed a search warrant at around 9am Monday morning at Trump’s residence, the sources said, as part of an ongoing investigation examining the former president’s potentially unlawful removal and destruction of White House records after he left office last year.
The move by the Justice Department to search Mar-a-Lago over the removal of 15 boxes of presidential records from the White House, including classified documents, as well as the destruction of other materials, marks a dramatic escalation in the inquiry.
“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 a bitter statement on Monday evening, adding: “They even broke into my safe!”
Trump has previously come under scrutiny for his flagrant violations of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 – mandating the preservation of White House documents – but the search for the first time, appears to indicate potential legal jeopardy for Trump over his records practices.
The statute governing the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of presidential records, though rarely enforced, carries significant penalties including: fines, imprisonment and, most notably, disqualification from holding current or future office.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment.