September 28, 2022

Trump solicits donations after FBI raid at his Mar-a-Lago home

WASHINGTON, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump tried to spin news of an FBI raid on his Florida estate in his favor, citing an investigation into text messages and emails soliciting political donations from his supporters.

The unprecedented search marked a significant expansion of the federal investigation into whether Trump, who leaves office in January 2021, illegally removed records from the White House. Trump has publicly flirted with running for president again in 2024, but has not made it clear whether he will. To do so.

Trump has tried to portray the search for his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach as a politically motivated move by President Joe Biden’s administration, while the former president plays a key role in Republican primaries. US Congress.

Sign up now for unlimited free access to Reuters.com

“They are trying to stop the Republican Party and me once again,” Trump said in a fundraising email on Tuesday. “Illegality, political persecution and witch-hunts must be exposed and stopped.”

Trump launched his Save America political action group days after losing the 2020 election to Biden. It has more than $100 million in the bank, a formidable war room. read more

His Republican allies in Congress have vowed to launch an investigative probe if they recapture control of the House or Senate in November. House Republicans, including Representative Jim Banks, are scheduled to meet with Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Tuesday. read more

The Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment on or confirm the search, which Trump disclosed in a statement on Monday.

‘Withering Scrutiny’

The FBI could not have conducted the search without the approval of a judge who confirmed probable cause. The request will almost certainly be approved by Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray and his Biden-appointed boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland.

A White House official said Biden was not notified in advance of the search.

“This search warrant, in my estimation, was the most dryly scrutinized of any search warrant in the history of the Justice Department,” said David Laughman, a former Justice Department official who oversaw prosecutions of national security crimes.

The FBI visited Trump properties earlier this year to examine boxes in a locked storage room, according to a person familiar with the visit. FBI agents and Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran spent a day reviewing the materials, the source said.

Corcoran did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The search is only an investigative measure and does not mean Trump will automatically face criminal charges or be found guilty of any wrongdoing.

Concealing or destroying government records is a crime under the law. Anyone convicted of violating a US law known as the Government Records Act is barred from holding federal office and faces up to three years in prison.

Legal experts said it was unclear whether the disqualification clause was constitutional. The U.S. Constitution sets forth the qualifications to be President, Senator, or U.S. Representative. Previous Supreme Court rulings have held that Congress cannot control the list of eligible office holders.

That means if Trump is convicted, he will again challenge any attempt to disqualify him from office, possibly to the 6-3 conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court, which includes three justices he appointed.

“It’s not clear that the prohibition contained in the Government Records Act is constitutional,” said Mitchell Epner, an attorney with the firm Rottenberg Lipman Rich and a former federal prosecutor. “It absolutely is and will in all likelihood end up being the case.”

Since Trump left office in a failed attempt to reverse his election loss, Jan. The document review is one of several investigations focused on him weeks after his supporters stormed the US capital on 6, 2021. Trump continues to falsely claim that the election was stolen through widespread voting fraud. read more

Although recent polls show Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis surging as the 2024 candidate, Trump remains an influential voice in the Republican Party.

But Trump has faced several political scandals and observers said the FBI search could boost his standing with Republican voters.

“The Biden administration is only adding rocket fuel to Trump’s campaign prospects and energizing his supporters who want him to run again,” said Ron Ponjean, a Republican strategist in Washington. “There needs to be more transparency around the decision to conduct this FBI investigation, because it is highly politicized and allows Trump to claim that he is being unfairly attacked.”

Sign up now for unlimited free access to Reuters.com

Sarah N. in Washington. Reporting by Lynch and Karen Freifeld in New York, with additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth, Jim Oliphant, Luke Cohen, David Morgan and Steve Holland; Editing by Scott Malone, Will Dunham and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.