Hours after Donald Trump said that the FBI had "raided" his Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, his middle son told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the former president had been working with federal authorities for months.
"The purpose for the raid from what they said was because the National Archives wanted to, you know, corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession," Eric Trump told Hannity. "And my father has worked so collaboratively with them for months. In fact, the lawyer that’s been working on this was totally shocked."
On Tuesday, CNN pundits explained the significance of his remarks.
"The last part from Eric Trump, he said his father has worked with them collaboratively for months," said CNN host John King. "This dispute goes back to a couple months after Trump left office, back to May of 2021. A little more than a month ago, you had agents at Mar-a-Lago, they were trying to get documents back. What got to the point after months and months of trying to negotiate this, that the FBI decided we are at an impasse, we need a search warrant?"
Crime and Justice reporter Katelyn Polanz explained that these were all documents in the president's possession after he left office and while he was living at Mar-a-Lago.
"What's interesting is we have talked before about 15 boxes at Mar-a-Lago," she began. "Those boxes as far as we know, those were recovered previously by the National Archives and then subpoenaed by the Justice Department as part of this same criminal probe, if it is the one that Eric Trump is referring to there. So, those documents now, they already had in their possession, and at some point, they realized in that June meeting that there was more there. It appears they were shown by the Trump lawyers on site, there are things here. And the Justice Department came back and said, 'Keep those secure.' We just don't know what happened after that. If they came back and said again, you know, we want to come in. Or if this was a total surprise to everyone and they were just really taken off guard."
King speculated that if the FBI had a back-and-forth between Trump and his legal team, it would mean Trump was refusing to hand over the information and the FBI was forced to run it up the chain of command and have the top people agree that a warrant was necessary.
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, explained that to be able to prove there was probable cause the agents would have to show evidence that a crime was being committed.
"They must have some close witness who can show the judge in an affidavit that the documents are still there, that there's evidence of misconduct up to and including the former president of the United States," he explained. "You don't take this kind of action lightly."
CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins questioned what wasn't handed over to the National Archives when they went to Mar-a-Lago with a truck and took documents away.
"The president's attorneys showed investigators several months ago at Mar-a-Lago where the documents were being stored," said Collins. "It was in the basement of Mar-a-Lago. They took them down there. I'm told the investigators looked around the room and left. They did not take the boxes with them, we believe. The big question on that is once they left and sent this letter asking them to further secure the documents, which is when I'm told aides to Trump put a padlock on the door. What happened there? That's where this big black hole is. In those two months that transpired since then and what Preet and others are saying is obviously you don't take a step like this lightly with a former president. That's why it's raising questions."
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