Former President Donald Trump claims the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago Florida mansion on Monday is politically motivated. The search appears to be part of an investigation into whether he kept official documents instead of handing them over to the National Archives when he left office. VOA White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara reports on the potential political ramifications of this event, including how it could affect the former president’s potential ambitions to run for the White House again in 2024.
After the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, the former president said he was the victim of a political witch hunt by Democrats.
“Seeing the big wins of the candidates I’ve supported and that I’m leading in all the polls, they’re trying to hold back the Republican Party and me once again,” Mr. Trump said in a fundraising email on Tuesday.
The search, based on an order approved by a federal judge, was not coordinated with the White House and President Joe Biden learned about it through the news, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
“We had no advance notice of the FBI’s action. President Biden has been very clear since before he was elected president and throughout his time in office that the Department of Justice conducts investigations independently. He believes in the rule of law.” , she said.
The unprecedented FBI sweep marked an escalation of the federal investigation into the former president.
“It’s easy to interpret this as a political game, through which the Biden administration tries to curb a potential presidential campaign by Donald Trump. But this is simply about the law. The Presidential Data Act of 1978, provides that all materials used by the president to be turned over to the National Archives. Former President Trump has not complied with that,” says Todd Belt, director of the Political Management program at George Washington University.
Earlier this year, the National Archives notified Congress that it had found 15 boxes of White House documents at Mar-a-Lago, including classified material.
But Republicans immediately came out in support of the former president and embraced the position that the raid was politically motivated.
Republican Congressman Michael Turner said he has asked FBI Director Christopher Wray in a letter to present to Congress the reasons for the decision to search the former president’s residence.
“The concern here is obviously about the politicization of the Justice Department and the intelligence community. The department crossed a line by raiding the home of a former president,” he says.
Mr. Trump continues to send signals publicly that he may run for president again.
And in the near future, the investigation may be favorable to his political fortunes.
“It will help him with fundraising. He is getting support from the grassroots. But in the long run, it could be problematic. This issue is not going to go away if he really did act inappropriately and there is evidence to support a prosecution. It’s not something that can be hidden,” says Shannon Bow O’Brien, a professor of presidential politics at the University of Texas at Austin.
The former president also faces an investigation into his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and allegations of wrongdoing related to the 2020 presidential election.