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Raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was ‘totally unjustified’: Legal experts question rush on his estate

Legal experts have claimed the FBI raid on Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate was ‘totally unjustified’. 

FBI agents searched Trump’s home on Monday as part of an investigation into whether he took classified documents from the White House to his Florida residence. 

The raid represents a dramatic and unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president.

But legal expert Alan Dershowitz, who served on Trump’s legal team for the president’s first impeachment case, questioned the Department of Justice’s motive for the raid as he said it should only be used as a ‘last resort’. 

The Harvard law professor told ‘Rob Schmitt Tonight’ on Monday: ‘A raid is supposed to be a last resort, but this administration has used the weaponization of the justice system against its political enemies. 

‘It’s arrested people, denied them bail, put them in handcuffs – used all kinds of techniques that are not usually applied to American citizens, and I just hope this raid has a justification. 

‘If it doesn’t have a justification, the material seized in it will be suppressed.’ 

Legal expert Alan Dershowitz (pictured), who served on Trump’s legal team for the president’s first impeachment case, questioned the Department of Justice’s motive for the raid as he said it should only be used as a ‘last resort’

A police car is seen outside former US President Donald Trump's residence in Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday night

A police car is seen outside former US President Donald Trump’s residence in Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday night 

Secret service members stand guard outside former U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday

Secret service members stand guard outside former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday

Dershowitz added: ‘I suspect it has to do with some investigations leading toward Donald Trump and some of his associates, but again, the law is clear: You don’t engage in a raid unless you’ve exhausted all the other remedies – unless you believe that the person rated will destroy the evidence.’

Dershowitz later told Fox News: ‘Based on what we now know, it was totally unjustified, even one FBI agent would have been too many.

‘The whole process was wrong and Trump was away at the time, so they can’t say he was going to destroy anything.’

Legal scholars have pointed to how when individuals have previously violated the law regarding classified documents, the Justice Department has chosen to either not prosecute or settle for lesser charges.

‘The Presidential Records Act is not commonly a subject of criminal prosecution, even in the most egregious cases,’ Johnathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, told Fox News. ‘These incidents have generally been handled administratively.’ 

It comes as the familiar battle lines, forged during a a four-year presidency shadowed by FBI and congressional investigations, quickly took shape again following the raid. 

Trump and his allies sought to cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 – even though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge of it, and the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a high-ranking official in a Republican-led Justice Department.

As Mar A Lago is raided by the FBI Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in New York City to escorted by his Secret service and NYPD detail

As Mar A Lago is raided by the FBI Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in New York City to escorted by his Secret service and NYPD detail

President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is shown on July 10, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is shown on July 10, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla

Trump on Monday night called the search a ‘weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.’

Other Republicans echoed that message. GOP National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel denouncing the search as ‘outrageous’ and said it was a reason for voters to turn out in November.

Trump’s longtime friend and former attorney Rudy Giuliani said the raid on the former president’s home is ‘an absolute disgrace’ and he feels ’embarrassment as an American’.

Speaking on WABC Radio’s ‘The Rita Cosby Show’ on Monday night, Giuliani slammed the raid as ‘phony’ and said it ‘goes way beyond politics.’

He said: ‘It’s a very, very sad night for America, and for me personally, who has spent many years of my life in the justice department at the lowest and the highest levels and worked very closely with the FBI to put some of the worst criminals of the 20th century in jail.

Trump's longtime friend and former attorney Rudy Giuliani said the raid on the former president's home is 'an absolute disgrace' and he feels 'embarrassment as an American'

Trump’s longtime friend and former attorney Rudy Giuliani said the raid on the former president’s home is ‘an absolute disgrace’ and he feels ’embarrassment as an American’

EXCLUSIVE: Trump could be BANNED from holding public office if he is found guilty of mishandling classified White House records – and the legal saga will be a ‘huge’ development for his 2024 hopes, legal experts warn 

Former President Donald Trump could be banned from holding public office if he is found guilty of mishandling White House records.

Federal law prohibits someone convicted of mishandling documents from holding any office in the US, legal experts have warned could be a ‘huge’ development for Trump’s hopes to run for president in 2024.

‘If Trump is convicted under this federal statute, he would be prohibited from holding any office including the office of the president,’ former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told DailyMail.com. ‘That would be huge.’

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida was raided by the FBI Monday, reportedly as part of an investigation into whether he took classified documents with him when he left presidential office.

Trump, in his dramatic announcement of the raid, did not specifically say what the federal agents were looking for, just that his home was ‘under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.’

Trump could be facing ‘significant criminal exposure’ if the FBI raid determines he destroyed government records, Rahmani, who is president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told DailyMail.com Monday night.

He said Trump would likely be charged under US Code Title 18, Section 2071 which involves concealment or destruction of US government documents.

The code states that anyone who ‘willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record’ could be fined and sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison. 

The provision also states that anyone convicted of records concealment or destruction ‘shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.’

‘His lawyers told him about the law requiring that he preserve White House documents, so he was on notice and that will bolster the case and help prove intent if prosecutors charge Trump.’ 

Trump took 15 boxes of material with him in January 2021 after he left office.

The boxes were returned to the National Archives a year later, in January 2022, but agents on Monday were reportedly looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at his South Florida estate. 

‘FBI agents, in an investigation like this, are not always going to find every missing document or even discover every instance where a paper went missing,’ Rahmani warned. ‘It’s not hard to destroy documents and in some cases investigators will never find any evidence that a document even existed.’

He added: ‘In other instances, investigators can figure out something is missing, if for example they have testimony from a government official who says he was tasked with writing up a transcript and he did that, but the document can’t be found anywhere. Then you know someone destroyed it. But figuring out who did that can be another mystery.’

Rahmani noted the raid of Trump’s home was likely carried out only by agents involved in searching for documents that should have been in the National Archives.

He said the agents investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol ‘may have nothing to do with this operation.’

‘But if evidence comes out from the raid that sheds light on Trump’s involvement in the Capitol Riot, then that will absolutely become part of the Jan. 6 investigation,’ the legal expert added.

 

 

‘I am ashamed of the leadership of the FBI and the Department of Justice, ashamed of two great institutions. They will go down in history as probably the two worst attorney general and FBI directors.’

‘We don’t have justice in America anymore, they’ve trashed it. This is the Biden police state. A sad night for America,’ he added. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who is considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, said in a statement on Twitter that the raid was ‘an escalation in the weaponization’ of U.S. government agencies. 

Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, said in a tweet that the Justice Department ‘has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization’ and said that if Republicans win control of the U.S. House, they will investigate the department.

That Trump would become entangled in a probe into the handling of classified information is all the more striking given how he tried during the 2016 presidential election to exploit an FBI investigation into his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information via a private email server she used as secretary of state. 

Then-FBI Director James Comey concluded that Clinton had sent and received classified information but the FBI did not recommend criminal charges because it determined that Clinton had not intended to break the law.

Trump lambasted that decision and then stepped up his criticism of the FBI as agents began investigating whether his campaign had colluded with Russia to tip the 2016 election. He fired Comey during that probe, and though he appointed Wray months later, he repeatedly criticized him too as president.

Thomas Schwartz, a Vanderbilt University history professor who studies and writes about the presidency, said there is no precedent for a former president facing an FBI raid – even going back to Watergate. 

President Richard Nixon wasn’t allowed to take tapes or other materials from the White House when he resigned in 1974, Schwartz noted, and many of his papers remained in Washington for years before being transferred to his presidential library in California.

‘This is different and it is a sign of how unique the Trump period was,’ said Schwartz, author of ‘Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography.’ ‘How his behavior was so unusual.’

Trump, who disclosed the search in a lengthy statement, asserted that agents had opened up a safe at his home and described their work as an ‘unannounced raid’ that he likened to ‘prosecutorial misconduct.’

The search intensifies the months-long probe into how classified documents ended up in more than a dozen boxes located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. 

It occurs amid a separate grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and adds to the potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run.

‘These are dark times for our Nation, as 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 wrote. ‘Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.’

‘After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,’ Trump said in his statement.

Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized it.

Trump did not elaborate on the basis for the search, but the Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it had retrieved from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of records containing classified information earlier this year. 

The National Archives said Trump should have turned over that material upon leaving office, and it asked the Justice Department to investigate.

There are multiple federal laws governing the handling of classified records and sensitive government documents, including statutes that make it a crime to remove such material and retain it at an unauthorized location. 

Though a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials looking to obtain one must first demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.

Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search happened earlier Monday and was related to the records probe. Agents were also looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at the estate.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump were spotted outside his Mar-a-Lago home on Monday to back the ex-Commander in Chief after it was announced it had been raided by the FBI

Supporters of former President Donald Trump were spotted outside his Mar-a-Lago home on Monday to back the ex-Commander in Chief after it was announced it had been raided by the FBI

Trump has previously maintained that presidential records were turned over ‘in an ordinary and routine process.’ 

His son Eric said on Fox News on Monday night that he had spent the day with his father and that the search happened because ‘the National Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.’

Asked how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago, Eric Trump said the boxes were among items that got moved out of the White House during ‘six hours’ on Inauguration Day, as the Bidens prepared to move into the building.

‘My father always kept press clippings,’ Eric Trump said. ‘He had boxes, when he moved out of the White House.’

Trump emerged from Trump Tower in New York City shortly before 8 p.m. and waved to bystanders before being driven away in an SUV.

In his first public remarks since news of the search surfaced, Trump made no mention of it during a tele-town hall on behalf of Leora Levy, the Connecticut Republican he has endorsed in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate primary to pick a general election opponent against Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. 

Trump gave his public backing to Levy late last week, calling her on Monday the best pick ‘to replace Connecticut’s joke of a senator.’

The probe is hardly the only legal headache confronting Trump. A separate investigation related to efforts by Trump and his allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election – which led to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol – has also been intensifying in Washington. Several former White House officials have received grand jury subpoenas.

And a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is investigating whether Trump and his close associates sought to interfere in that state’s election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.


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