Senior FBI agents reportedly voiced opposition to raiding Mar-a-Lago last year, but Department of Justice prosecutors made them go ahead anyway.
Months before the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago to recover classified documents, there were intense internal deliberations between the FBI and DOJ prosecutors, the Washington Post reported.
On one hand, FBI agents urged cooperation with the former president, knowing the political and public ramifications of aggressive tactics, like a surprise raid. But aggressive is reportedly what prosecutors wanted. From the Post:
On one side, federal prosecutors in the department’s national security division advocated aggressive ways to secure some of the country’s most closely guarded secrets, which they feared Trump was intentionally hiding at Mar-a-Lago; on the other, FBI agents in the Washington field office urged more caution with such a high-profile matter, recommending they take a cooperative rather than confrontational approach.
Eventually, after months of discussions, prosecutors won. On Aug. 8, Trump revealed that the FBI had searched his property, setting off a political firestorm just months before the midterm elections.
During the raid, FBI agents seized "18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings," the New York Times reported. Attorney General Merrick Garland later revealed that he "personally approved" the raid.
A federal judge later unsealed the search warrant used to raid Mar-a-Lago. It revealed that federal law enforcement was investigating Trump for several crimes, including removal or destruction of records, obstruction of justice, and violating the Espionage Act. Trump has not officially been charged.
Still, the concerns of the FBI were not unwarranted. After all, it appears that high-ranking government officials have a propensity for improperly retaining classified documents.
About three months after the Mar-a-Lago raid, the FBI searched the Washington office that President Joe Biden used before he became president. That search was conducted after Biden's personal attorney found classified documents improperly stored there.
Documents were later found at President Joe Biden's personal home in Wilmington, Delaware, including some that dated from his days in the U.S. Senate. The FBI, however, never conducted a surprise raid on the president, leading Republicans to accuse the DOJ of treating Biden differently than Trump.
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