An hour before Connecticut primary tele-rally, Trump says FBI conducting search of Mar-a-Lago
Former President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate. The statement came just over an hour before Trump was set to appear on a telephone call to rally voters for Leora Levy, a Connecticut Republican primary candidate running against the state GOP-endorsed Themis Klarides for a chance to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in November.
The circumstances were not immediately clear. Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson said the agency had no comment when asked whether Attorney General Merrick Garland had personally authorized the search.
“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump said in his statement.
Trump made no mention of the FBI search during the telephone call with Levy. The former president did not interact with callers, or with Levy. A spokesperson for the Levy campaign said Trump's appearance was live, not pre-recorded.
Trump encouraged people on the call to vote for Levy and said she's been "fighting for the Republican Party" for decades.
The search of Trump's estate comes as he has been laying the groundwork to make another bid for president.
The Justice Department has been investigating the discovery of boxes of records containing classified information that were taken to Mar-a-Lago after Trump's presidency had concluded. That matter was referred to the Justice Department by the National Archives and Records Administration, which said it had found classified material in 15 boxes at the residence.
Federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, though it is possible that Trump could try to argue that, as president, he was the ultimate declassification authority.
It was not clear whether the FBI search was connected to that probe.
A separate investigation related to efforts by Trump allies to undo the results of the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol has also been intensifying in Washington.
Note: Themis Klarides is married to Gregory B. Butler, who is a member of Connecticut Public's Board of Trustees.
This story, which has been updated, contains reporting by the Associated Press and Connecticut Public's Matt Dwyer.