ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The FBI searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said Monday.
Trump disclosed the action in a lengthy statement, asserting that agents had broken into his safe in a search he decried as evidence of “dark times for our nation.”
The search, which the FBI and Justice Department did not immediately confirm, marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes amid a separate but intensifying probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Here's what you need to know about the search:
Trump said in a statement that his home was "under siege" and was an attack by Democrats to prevent him from running for president in 2024.
He did not state, however, why the Justice Department was in his home and what exactly they were searching for.
"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. "It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for President in 2024, especially based on recent polls, and who will likewise do anything to stop Republicans and Conservatives in the upcoming Midterm Election."
Trump continues to call those who entered his home corrupt and mentioned Hillary Clinton in regards to deleting more than 33,000 emails after she was subpoenaed by Congress and also her taking furniture from the White House but was not held accountable.
Although neither the FBI nor Justice Department has released a response regarding the incident, the search is believed to be connected to an investigation by the Justice Department of claims by the National Archives that it found 15 boxes of records that include classified material at Trump's estate earlier this year, sources told CBS News.
The National Archives also reportedly asked the Justice Department to investigate Trump's handling of White House records, according to CBS News.
Under the Presidential Records Act, Trump is not allowed to carry any White House documents with him after his term was served as all documents received and sent by any president must be preserved by the office.
Justice Department's response
The Justice Department and the FBI have not yet announced a response relating to the search at the time of this writing.
A department spokeswoman refused to comment when asked whether Attorney General Merrick Garland approved the FBI to search the home, The Washington Post reported.
However, going inside the home of a former U.S. president's property to look for evidence of a possible crime is very unusual and would most likely require approval from the top levels of the Justice Department, according to the Washington Post.
Florida leaders' response
Several of Florida's top leaders responded to the raid, including Gov. Ron DeSantis.
On Twitter, DeSantis called the raid "another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents."
Sen. Marco Rubio also responded via Twitter about the raid, accusing President Joe Biden of "playing with fire by using a document dispute to get the [Justice Department] to persecute a likely future election opponent."
Sen. Rick Scott also condemned the raid, calling it "incredibly concerning," and alleging the Biden administration has a "history of going after" other political opponents. And, he called on the FBI to explain what agents were doing at Mar-a-Lago and why.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who are both Democratic gubernatorial candidates, criticized DeSantis' condemnation of the FBI raid.
Fried said the governor is defending Trump "instead of the rule of law."
Crist also tweeted criticism of DeSantis' response and released the following statement:
“In the United States of America, no one is above the law, not even a former President.
“Governor DeSantis’s knee-jerk partisan response to this law enforcement action proves yet again he is more interested in playing politics than seeking justice or the rule of law.
“Healing and uniting our state and nation starts with respecting the rule of law. If Ron DeSantis can’t understand that, or refuses to, he’s not qualified to be governor of Florida.”
Mar-a-Lago is a resort located in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump has an estate in that location and it's where the FBI conducted its search to find classified records from the White House.
According to Trump's statement, a safe in his home was broken into by the FBI.
"They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee?" he stated.
Town&Country magazine reports that the former president owns seven properties, but the one in the Sunshine State is believed by the Justice Department to contain records from the White House.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.