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  • Schuyler Beltrami

FBI Search of Trump’s Home Signals Shift in Investigations

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On Monday, the FBI conducted a search of former President Trump’s private home, Mar-a-Lago, in South Florida. The search was conducted in order to retrieve confidential files, which Trump had improperly taken from the White House after the end of his term as President in January 2021. The search, an unprecedented move in American political history, is just the latest step in the legal battles between the former President and multiple investigations against him in multiple states.

FBI Searches Home of Former President Trump

Over the past weeks and months there was a feeling that a legal noose was tightening around the neck of the former President, as investigations into his political and professional past were being conducted in multiple states, most notably, the Select Committee of the House of Representatives into Trump’s decision making on January 6th. In Georgia, an investigation has been ongoing into Trump’s plan to use fake electors in the Electoral College who would refuse to certify the states’ votes for President Biden, who won Georgia in 2020, and instead place the state’s 16 electoral votes for Trump. Meanwhile, in Trump’s home state of New York, an investigation there into his personal business dealings and the flow of money into his charitable organizations has been ongoing for months. In relation with this investigation in New York, Trump found himself away from his sprawling Florida mansion complex of Mar-a-Lago when the FBI searched his home to find confidential records, which Trump had improperly removed from the White House after the end of his term. According to federal law, all governmental records are to be kept with the National Archives after the end of a Presidential term, as all government paperwork belongs to the United States Government, and not to any former President who may have been responsible for the creation of said paperwork. The FBI was called to retrieve the paperwork, not only because of them being in the purview of a federal investigation, but also because some of the paperwork taken by the former President were regarded as strictly confidential (some of the items taken are considered so important to state security that the FBI could not even give a broad summary of the items taken when asked by the press, as even the publication of a brief summary could have detrimental consequences for state security, according to the FBI). During the search, the FBI gained access to the former President’s safe, in which some of the documents were contained. The search of Trump’s home and his safe were outlined in a legal search warrant obtained by the FBI from a federal judge, and the Secret Service, who is still responsible for the safety and protection of former President Trump and his home, were notified of the search by the FBI before their arrival to ensure their safety during the time on the Mar-a-Lago property. Upon hearing of the search of his home, the former President took to his personal social media outlet, Truth Social, to call the search a “raid” and an “assault”. He said in a statement that the move was part of a wider political witch hunt against him by agents of the “far-left”. Many Republican allies of the former President reacted with anger towards the search. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a tweet that the Justice Department should “clear its calendar”, threatening a full investigation of the Justice Department if Republicans take back control of the House of Representatives in November. Other Republicans called to defund the FBI and to investigate the federal police force for efforts to politically harm the former President. The current head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, was hand-picked by Trump himself in 2017.

An Unprecedented Step in a Long Series of Unprecedented Steps

The consequences of Monday’s search of the former President’s home could be far-reaching and detrimental to Mr. Trump’s wish to run for President again in 2024. Never before in modern American politics has the FBI searched the private home of a former President for government-related documents, and the simple fact that the Justice Department felt confident enough to ask a federal judge for a warrant of Mr. Trump’s home is leading many legal experts to predict that the scope and size of federal investigations around the former President will only grow in the coming weeks. After vital testimonies from numerous former aides, colleagues, and political allies over Mr. Trump’s actions on January 6th to the House Select Committee, the Justice Department, the only government body who could legally bring any charges against Mr. Trump, seems to be growing more confident in their ability to not only charge the former President with a crime, but to build a case that would be convincing enough for a jury to convict him. Attorney General Merrick Garland, head of the Justice Department, as said on multiple occasions that no person in America is above the law, and would file charges against the former President if a crime was committed; this despite the possible violent reactions of Trump supporters if he was to be charged with a crime. The search of Mar-a-Lago is also important since it shows that the Justice Department already has enough evidence of a possible crime committed by Trump to not only ask a federal judge for a search warrant, but also to be granted one. Almost since the very beginning of his announcement to run for President in 2015, former President Trump has been at the center of political scandals and investigations, yet has found a way out of all of them. Only time will tell if he will once again be able to divert away from any criminal cases against him.

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