The FBI planned Monday’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence to take place when he was not there in a misguided attempt to limit the furious reaction from the 45th president and his GOP allies, according to a report Wednesday.
Two senior government officials told Newsweek that the bureau believed carrying out the search while Trump was at his residences in New York and New Jersey would deny him the opportunity to either “grandstand” or directly affect the operation.
In that respect, a senior Justice Department official acknowledged, the raid was “a spectacular backfire.”
“I know that there is much speculation out there that this is political persecution, but it is really the best and the worst of the bureaucracy in action,” the source added. “They wanted to punctuate the fact that this was a routine law enforcement action, stripped of any political overtones, and yet [they] got exactly the opposite.”
“They were seeking to avoid any media circus,” said Newsweek’s second source, a senior intelligence official. “So even though everything made sense bureaucratically and the FBI feared that the documents might be destroyed, they also created the very firestorm they sought to avoid, in ignoring the fallout.”
The officials insisted the raid had no political motive and was for the sole purpose of recovering materials that Trump took when he left the White House at the end of his term in January 2021.
The magazine also reported that the FBI agents who arrived at Mar-a-Lago knew to look in a bedroom, an office and a storage room during the search thanks to information provided by a “confidential human source” — who also indicated what documents were being kept.
The FBI ended up seizing 12 boxes in the raid, but neither Trump nor the Justice Department have disclosed what materials or classified information were found.
Trump blasted the FBI earlier Wednesday for allegedly refusing to let his attorneys watch the raid, claiming they were thwarted from making sure agents were not “planting” evidence.
He sniped on his Truth Social platform that officials wouldn’t let anyone “anywhere near the areas” that were being searched.
“Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting,’ ” the former president wrote. “Why did they STRONGLY insist on having nobody watching them, everybody out?”
“[Barack] Obama and [Hillary] Clinton were never ‘raided,’ despite big disputes!” he continued.
The raid was triggered by an ongoing Justice Department probe into boxes of materials Trump took with him to Florida when he left the White House.
The showdown erupted in January when the National Archives said it had retrieved 15 boxes of White House records — including classified information — from Mar-a-Lago that Trump should have turned over when he left office, including letters from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Federal investigators visited Mar-a-Lago this past spring to meet with Trump’s attorneys about turning over more potentially classified information, sources told CNN.
The feds sought the search warrant after sources told Fox News that investigators felt they were not getting the same level of cooperation from Trump’s attorneys as before.
Trump’s side has insisted they have been cooperative with the entirety of the DOJ’s investigation.