OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
More details regarding the FBI’s unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week continue to trickle out.
According to The New York Times, the former president sent a private message to Attorney General Merrick Garland prior to the latter’s press conference following the raid in which Garland said he “personally approved” the search.
The message was relayed to Garland by someone close to Trump shortly before the press conference, to which Garland was around 35 minutes late.
“The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?” said Trump’s message, according to the Times.
During the presser, Garland only spoke for a few moments and did not take any questions from assembled reporters.
“First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” Garland admitted during the press conference. “Second, the Department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.”
Subsequent reports claim that the Justice Department may seek to charge the former president for violations of the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has seldom been used.
That said, according to a Fox News update Saturday evening, the attorney certified in June that no classified documents remained at the palatial estate, which is located in Palm Beach, Fla., citing two sources familiar with the situation.
“Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations executed a search warrant of former President Trump’s Florida estate on Monday and seized items which include 11 sets of material that are listed as classified,” the update continued, adding:
Trump’s lawyers previously held a high-level meeting with people from the Justice Department and the FBI, which the former president briefly attended, but it’s unclear if the letter was signed during the meeting.
Lawyers for former President Trump could face serious legal consequences if they knowingly gave false information to law enforcement.
Trump reacted again to the raid on his Truth Social platform.
“The RAID was Politics, the Midterm Elections, and 2024. It’s another form of Election CHEATING – That’s all the Radical Left Democrats know what to do. They use the FBI & DOJ to try and dirty up their opponents, but the people of our Country are wise to them like never before. Be careful what you wish for!” he wrote.
In addition, Fox News reported that the FBI seized sensitive attorney-client privilege documents during the raid.
“Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News Saturday that the former president’s team was informed that boxes labeled A-14, A-26, A-43, A-13, A-33, and a set of documents—all seen on the final page of the FBI’s property receipt —contained information covered by attorney-client privilege,” the outlet reported.
“Attorney-client privilege refers to a legal privilege that keeps communications between an attorney and their client confidential,” Fox News added.
The report went on to note that sources said some of the records could also be covered by executive privilege, which provides the president and others within the Executive Branch authority to withhold certain items deemed sensitive such as advice and consultation between the president and his senior aides and advisers.
But Fox News reported that, at this point, it’s not clear if those records pertain to communications between Trump and his private attorneys, White House counsel during his term, or both.
Separately, Trump lawyer Christina Bobb said that the former president and many family members watched the FBI during “the whole” raid, meaning that they likely would have been able to see if agents planted any evidence, as Trump suggested last week.
“It’s kind of funny. I think the folks in New York, President Trump, and his family, probably had a better view than I did because they had the CCTV, they were able to watch,” Bobb told the streaming network Real America’s Voice, according to the New York Post.
“I was, you know, I was stuck in the parking lot there to you know, collect paper and answer questions,” she added. “But they were actually able to see the whole thing. So they actually have a better idea of what took place inside.”
Bobb said that the FBI had initially instructed Trump’s staff and his attorneys to shut off the closed circuit TV security system, but they refused to do so and allowed it to remain in operation the entire raid.