The court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is another unmistakable signal that the Justice Department is trying to build a criminal case against him arising out of the Capitol riot.
Ostensibly, the search relates to a long simmering dispute between the former president and the government over Trump’s potentially illegal retention and mishandling of classified information. But don’t be deceived.
National Archives officials alerted the Justice Department months ago regarding missing records and possible classified information violations. That owes to the chaotic atmosphere in which the Trump family decamped to Florida from the White House following the Capitol riot – with impeachment proceedings and even talk of removing Trump from office under the 25th Amendment then underway.
Reportedly, about 15 boxes of records were removed from the White House and shipped to Mar-a-Lago. The National Archives subsequently explained that much of the material should have been kept in the government’s possession, pursuant to the Presidential Records Act. After extensive negotiations, Trump agreed to return some of the materials in January 2022. Upon receipt, National Archives officials advised the Justice Department that the returned materials included classified information.