MIAMI - On Monday afternoon, former President Donald Trump said that his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach was being raided by the FBI.
Two sources confirmed to CBS News that the action was connected to White House records.
In February, thethe Justice Department to investigate Trump's handling of White House records. The National Archives said in February that some of the documents Trump turned over to them had been , and that classified materials were found amid it retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January.
On Monday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman released photos from her upcoming book that appeared to show at least two instances where Trump tried to flush documents down the toilet.
Here is part of what the former president had to say in a written statement, which was released just before 7 p.m.:
"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."
"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."
"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 Elections. Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries."
"Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States."
Under the Presidential Records Act, documents received and sent by the president are required to be preserved by the office.
CBS4 has learned Trump was in New York and not at his Palm Beach estate while the search was being conducted.
On Monday evening, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted: "The raid of MAL is another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime's political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves. Now the Regime is getting another 87k IRS agents to wield against its adversaries? Banana Republic."
Florida US Senator Marco Rubio also tweeted his reaction by saying, "Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships But never before in America."
The execution of the search warrant, which the FBI and Justice Department did not immediately confirm, marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes as he has been laying the groundwork to make another bid for president.
Though a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials looking to obtain one must demonstrate that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.
Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including about whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search.
A person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the search happened earlier Monday and agents were also looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at the estate.
The Justice Department has been investigating the presence of classified records inside 15 boxes that were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago by the National Archives and Records Administration earlier this year. The Archives then referred the matter to the Justice Department.
Federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it is possible that Trump could try to argue that, as president, he was the ultimate declassification authority.
There are multiple statutes governing classified information, including a law punishable by up to five years in prison that makes it a crime to remove such records and retain them at an unauthorized location. Another statute makes it a crime to mishandle classified records either intentionally or in a grossly negligent manner.
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 and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol has also been intensifying in Washington.
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