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Trump aims to use news of FBI raid on home to raise cash

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Former president Donald Trump. Photo: Marco Bello/Reuters

Former president Donald Trump. Photo: Marco Bello/Reuters

Former president Donald Trump. Photo: Marco Bello/Reuters

Former US president Donald Trump yesterday tried to turn the news of an FBI search of his Florida estate to his benefit, citing the investigation in text messages and emails soliciting political donations from his supporters.

The unprecedented search of the home of a former president marked a significant escalation of the federal investigation into whether Mr Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he was leaving office in January 2021. Mr Trump continues to publicly flirt with running again for president in 2024 but has not said clearly whether he will do so.

US President Joe Biden was not given advance notice of a raid on the former president’s Florida home, the White House said yesterday, stressing that the Justice Department conducts investigations independently.

“The president was not briefed, was not aware of it,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “No one at the White House was given a heads-up,” she added.

Mr Trump tried to paint the search of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach as a politically motivated move by Mr Biden’s administration even as the former president plays a key role in Republican primaries ahead of the November midterm elections that will determine control of the US Congress.

“As they watch my endorsed candidates win big victories and see my dominance in all polls, they are trying to stop the Republican Party and me once more,” Mr Trump said in a fundraising email yesterday. “The lawlessness, political persecution, and Witch Hunt, must be exposed and stopped.”

His Republican allies in Congress vowed to launch an investigation of the search itself, if they recapture majorities in the House or Senate in the November midterm elections.

Mr Trump launched his Save America political action committee days after losing the 2020 election to Mr Biden. It has more than $100m (€98m) in the bank, a formidable war chest.

Mr Trump on Monday announced the search of his club in a statement, saying that a “large group of FBI agents” had carried it out.

The FBI’s headquarters in Washington and its field office in Miami both declined to comment.

The FBI earlier this year visited Mr Trump’s property to investigate boxes in a locked storage room, according to a person familiar with the visit.

FBI agents and a Trump lawyer, Evan Corcoran, spent a day reviewing materials, the source said.

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Mr Corcoran did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The search is only an investigative step and does not mean Mr Trump will face automatically criminal charges, or that he would be found guilty of any wrongdoing.

The documents probe is one of several investigations that have focused on Mr Trump since he left office, weeks after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an unsuccessful bid to overturn his election loss.

Mr Trump continues to falsely claim the election was stolen through widespread voting fraud. He remains the Republican Party’s most influential voice, though recent polls have shown a growing number of Republican voters supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a potential 2024 candidate.

The search, like any of a private residence, would have to be approved by a judge, after the investigating law-enforcement agency demonstrated probable cause that a search was justified.

It almost certainly would also be approved by FBI director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, and his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by Mr Biden.

Meanwhile, a US House of Representatives committee has the right to see Mr Trump’s tax returns, a federal appeals court ruled, rejecting his claims that the request was invalid because it was politically motivated.

The court found that the committee’s request did not violate separation of powers principles under the US Constitution and that the decision by Mr Biden’s administration to provide Mr Trump’s tax returns to Congress did not infringe upon Mr Trump’s free speech rights.

The decision could lead to Mr Trump’s financial dealings being revealed before the next presidential election. Mr Trump has not announced whether he will run again for president in 2024.

The Ways and Means Committee sued in 2019, during Mr Trump’s presidency, to force disclosure of the tax returns. The dispute has lingered since he left office in January 2021.

Mr Trump was the first president in four decades not to release his tax returns, records that would reveal details of his wealth and the activities of his family company, the Trump Organisation.


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