Donald Trump regularly mishandled classified documents while President, his former press secretary has alleged after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago mansion in an apparent hunt for records he is accused of illegally taking when he left office.
Stephanie Grisham, a confidant of both Donald and Melania Trump before turning on them over the January 6 storming of the Capitol, said she saw him rip up documents and put some into his pocket during her time at the White House.
‘The President of the United States did not handle classified documents properly,’ she told CNN Monday night, hours after the FBI searched his Florida club in an apparent hunt for records that should have been given to the National Archive.
Trump’s Florida club was raided Monday morning by agents with a warrant while the former president was away in New York. He found out about it afterwards before breaking the news to the world, calling it a ‘dark day’ for America.
Stephanie Grisham (second right), Trump’s former press secretary, has claimed she watched him mishandle classified documents while he was President
Grisham spoke out after the FBI raided Trump’s Florida mansion, with journalists briefed they were looking for protected documents he is accused of taking after he left the White House
Trump also likened the raid to Watergate – with the raid happening to take place on August 8, the same day Nixon resigned in 1974 at the height of that scandal.
Grisham, who served as Trump’s press secretary from July 2019 until April 2021, said after the raid that she had ‘watched’ as the 45th President mishandled documents.
‘I was sat in an airplane with him, watched him go through documents, throw some away, rip some up and put some in his pocket,’ she recalled.
‘Because I remember specifically thinking: “Why do those go in his pocket?”‘
She then went on to speculate about what could be in the documents the FBI were looking for at Mar-a-Lago, suggesting it would have to be ‘something big’ to justify such a high-profile raid.
‘I don’t think this is just going to be about letters,’ Grisham said, referring to notes from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Trump that the Washington Post said were contained in a batch of records recovered from Mar-a-Lago back in January.
‘I think it could be about military operations. This is me speculating, I want to be clear. But I could see the former President thinking they were cool, or fun.
‘We were not a White House that followed the rules. And I can tell you that handling classified information was not something that was really impressed upon us on a daily basis, or weekly, or monthly.’
Trump has called the raid a ‘dark day’ for America and revealed that agents searched his private safe, but did not reveal if they took anything
Trump supporters gathered outside Mar-a-Lago to show their support in the wake of the raid, as he tees up a potential run for the presidency in 2024
Eric Trump accused Joe Biden of ordering the raid to discredit his father ahead of the 2024 race, but the White House denied all knowledge of it
The top-secret raid took place late Monday and was revealed by Trump himself, who said afterwards that his ‘beautiful house’ had been placed under ‘siege’ by a ‘large group’ of FBI agents in what he called a ‘dark day’ for America.
The FBI has not publicly acknowledged the raid, but journalists have been briefed that it is connected to protected documents Trump is alleged to have illegally taken with him when he left office.
Fifteen boxes filled with such documents were handed over to the National Archive back in January under federal laws which state all records linked to the president’s duties while in office must be stored there.
That transfer was carried out after consultations between the Archive and Trump’s legal team, who claimed the documents were mistakenly taken as the White House was emptied in a ‘hurry’ while the election result was still being disputed.
Monday’s raid is thought to have taken place under a search warrant, though no government agency has said exactly what was being searched for.
Though the raid itself is not evidence of criminality, obtaining a warrant from a judge would require agents to show ‘probable cause’ that a crime had been committed.
Given the high-profile nature of the raid, it is likely that senior figures within the FBI and Justice Department would have needed to sign off on it.
The FBI are thought to have arrived at Mar-a-Lago around 10am Monday and spent several hours searching the mansion before leaving with multiple boxes of items
Investigations into the records are just one of a number of probes that Trump is facing over his time as president, his refusal to concede the 2020 race to Biden, and the January 6 storming of the Capitol Building by supporters convinced the election had been stolen.
The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the events of January 6, has charged hundreds of people with breaching the Capitol that day, and is said to be probing Trump’s involvement in it.
Meanwhile the House Select Committee in Congress is conducting a series of hearings into the lead-up to January 6, and is interviewing high-ranking members of the Trump administration about attempts to overturn the election result.
Mike Pompeo, Trump’s former Secretary of State and an ally while in office, is due to speak this week alongside Douglas Mastriano, Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor who helped lead efforts to challenge that state’s election result.
The state of Georgia is also conducting a separate grand jury investigation into Trump’s efforts to challenge the election outcome there, while two separate investigations in New York are looking into Trump’s finances.