On Monday, after former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Florida saw a search warrant executed by the FBI, he compared the warrant to the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. "They even broke into my safe!" he raged. "What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat [sic] National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States."
This evening, taking to Twitter, Garrett M. Graff — a historian who specializes in the Watergate break-in — laid out exactly what the difference was.
"The idea the FBI launched a raid on a former president would have been approved and monitored at the highest level of the Justice Department; hard to even imagine how high the bar of probable cause must've been for the Bureau to initiate such a politically sensitive search," wrote Graff. "A search warrant means an independent federal judge ALSO signed off on the probable cause and, independently, believes evidence there was likely a crime committed AND that more evidence would be found at Mar-a-Lago. That's huge too."
"The fact the search apparently didn't leak until basically when word came from Donald Trump himself shows the FBI and the Justice Department conducted this search by the book and a high degree of integrity. No leaks? Impressive. Surely only a small team knew inside DOJ," Graff continued. "Taken together, this is one of the most significant, sensitive, and politically explosive actions the US Justice Department and FBI have ever taken — one of a tiny handful of times it's ever investigated a president."
"Bottom line: The FBI & DOJ must've known they had the goods," concluded Graff.
The FBI warrant is in connection with a federal investigation into classified documents that were removed from their proper locations as Trump and his associates vacated the White House. Former members of his administration have readily said that Trump was careless with classified information and would often destroy documents, or keep them for himself.