WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and claimed agents opened a safe.
The circumstances of the search were not immediately clear, although the Justice Department is actively investigating the discovery of classified information in boxes of documents that were taken to Trump’s Florida residence after he left the House. White.
The action marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes as he has laid the groundwork to make another run for president.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was neither necessary nor appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.
Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, including on whether Attorney General Merrick Garland personally authorized the search.
The discovery of classified information at Mar-a-Lago was passed to the Department of Justice by the National Archives and Records Administration, which said it found classified documents in 15 boxes at the residence.
Federal law prohibits the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it’s possible Trump could try to argue that as president he was the ultimate declassification authority.
There are several laws governing classified information, including a law punishable by up to five years in prison that makes it a crime to delete such records and store them in an unauthorized location. Another law makes it a crime to mishandle classified documents intentionally or through gross negligence.
A separate investigation related to efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol has also intensified in Washington.