Former President Donald Trump again lashed out at the FBI Tuesday evening over last week’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, as a new report said that top officials in the White House counsel’s office had been interviewed by investigators about boxes Trump took home.
‘The DOJ and FBI just returned my passports. Thank you!’ Trump posted to Truth Social. ‘Unfortunately, when they Raided my home, Mar-a-Lago, 8 days ago, they just opened their arms and grabbed everything in sight, much as a common criminal would do. This shouldn’t happen in America!’
It was previously reported that the FBI had returned the three passports to Trump.
The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin were interviewed by the FBI in connection with the boxes Trump removed from the White House and stored at his Florida home and private club.
They’re the most senior people known to have been interviewed by the FBI for the probe referred to the Justice Department by the National Archives over missing documents.
Philbin was interviewed sometime this spring, The Times reported.
He also tried to get the Archives’ material back from Trump, who told him, according to The Times’ sources, ‘It’s not theirs, it’s mine.’
Former President Donald Trump again lashed out at the FBI Tuesday evening over last week’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, as a new report said that top officials in the White House counsel’s office had been interviewed by investigators about boxes Trump took home
Trump claimed that the FBI ‘just opened their arms and grabbed everything in sight’ during last week’s raid of Mar-a-Lago
The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone (left) and his deputy Patrick Philbin (right) were interviewed by the FBI in connection with the boxes Trump removed from the White House
Meanwhile Melania Trump was seen leaving the Upper East Side building where the John Frieda salon is located on Tuesday
The former first lady was escorted back to her Secret Service transport and then headed back to Trump Tower
She has not been seen with her husband since he came to New York City for a deposition for New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation
Trump returned 15 boxes of material to the National Archives in January, but then the Justice Department issued a subpoena for additional materials in May – with officials going to Mar-a-Lago in June to pick it up.
At least one Trump lawyer signed a document saying that all the material with classified markings had been returned.
The FBI’s affidavit to obtain the search warrant to raid Mar-a-Lago could provide additional details about what investigators believed remained.
A federal judge who approved the warrant has now scheduled a hearing on whether to unseal the affidavit for Thursday.
It comes after Trump furiously called for the immediate release of the ‘completely unredacted’ document on Monday.
The DOJ is expected to argue against making the affidavit public, having formally opposed its release on Monday in a court filing.
It warned the affidavit’s release will ‘likely chill future cooperation’ from witnesses as its investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents continues.
However, the department offered to release less descriptive documents.
The former president said Monday that it was ‘in the interest of transparency’ the affidavit be made public following the ‘horrible and shocking break-in’ at Mar-a-Lago last week.
He also slammed the ‘very large number of gun toting FBI agents’ who entered his home and, in his Truth Social post, demanded the judge who authorized the search warrant recuse himself.
Meanwhile Trump’s spokesman Taylor Budowich shared an email from a DOJ official appearing to admit the FBI did seize his three passports when they raided the house.
Budowich shared the message from the National Security Division’s Jay Bratt apparently saying two expired passports and an active diplomatic one were taken in the FBI raid of Trump’s Florida estate.
The former president’s spokesman also hit back at CBS news anchor Norah O’Donnell, who earlier said a source in the DOJ had told her the FBI did not have his documents.
Trump furiously blasted the DOJ and FBI repeatedly on Monday for an ‘assault on a political opponent’ by taking them.
It’s all part of a continuation of Trump battling back since he announced last Monday his Palm Beach residence was raided by federal agents and 27 boxes of allegedly classified material were seized.
Conservative pollster Rasmussen Reports found that Attorney General Merrick Garland’s approval is at a low 36 percent since the FBI operation, though it’s a slight bump from his 30 percent approval in October.
In all, FBI agents took 27 boxes of documents when it raided Mar-a-Lago last week, according to the federal warrant
Taylor Budowich shared the message from the National Security Division’s Jay Bratt apparently saying two expired passports and an active diplomatic one were taken
Trump took to his Truth Social account late on Monday night to demand the ‘complete’ affidavit be released immediately.
He wrote: ‘There is no way to justify the unannounced RAID of Mar-a-Lago, the home of the 45th President of the United States (who got more votes, by far, than any sitting President in the history of our Country!), by a very large number of gun toting FBI Agents, and the Department of ”Justice”
‘But, in the interest of TRANSPARENCY, I call for the immediate release of the completely Unredacted Affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking BREAK-IN.’
The DOJ, however, earlier on Monday opposed requests to unseal the affidavit.
Several media outlets and Republican members of Congress have called on a Florida judge to release the affidavit behind the raid, which ignited a political firestorm.
Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart already ordered last week that the DOJ had to respond to motions to unseal the warrant used to justify the raid. The judge previously recused himself in June from a lawsuit between Trump and Hillary Clinton because of ‘personal bias’ although it is unclear the nature of this bias.
The Justice Department noted in a filing with a US District Court the search warrant and a receipt for items seized from Mar-a-Lago have already been made public.
But it argued the affidavit, which lays out the FBI´s probable cause argument for why the search warrant should be approved, presented a ‘very different set of considerations.’
The department said: ‘There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed.’
It said the government had ‘a compelling, overriding interest in preserving the integrity of an ongoing criminal investigation’.
The affidavit, it added, contained ‘critically important and detailed investigative facts’ as well as ‘highly sensitive information about witnesses, including witnesses interviewed by the government.’
The Justice Department said should the court order the release of the affidavit, the required redactions would ‘be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content.’
Donald Trump claimed his passports were ‘stolen’ in the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago last week
Meanwhile Trump’s spokesman Budowich shared the email exchange with DOJ official Bratt on his Twitter account late on Monday.
The message read: ‘We have learned that the filter agents seized three passports belonging to President Trump, two expired and one being his active diplomatic passport. We are returning them.’
Budowich said: ‘This is how Fake News works, folks. Biden admin actively feeds half truths & lies that the media willingly amplifies—advancing a partisan narrative to attack Trump.’
He added in a statement to Fox: ‘This is a perfect example of how the vital institutions of media and justice are being destroyed from within by the lazy, the corrupt, and the ill intent.
‘Sadly, it’s not going to be fixed from the outside. It’s up to the remaining good people within these institutions to expose these bad actors and hold them accountable, or else be complicit in their destruction.’
He also rounded on O’Donnell, adding: ‘Did your ”source” read you this email? Did you bother asking if they indeed seized the passports?’
The journalist had earlier tweeted: ‘According to a DOJ official, the FBI is NOT in possession of former President Trump’s passports.
‘If any items not contained in the warrant were retrieved during the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, they will be returned.’
It comes after CBS news anchor Norah O’Donnell said a source in the DOJ had told her the FBI did not have his passports
Trump earlier on Monday took to his Truth Social account to post a series of livid comments on the raid. He wrote: ‘Wow. In the raid by the FBI or Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else.
‘This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never before seen in our country. Third World.’
He also told Fox he has offered to do ‘whatever he can’ to fix the simmering tensions because people are ‘so angry at what is taking place’.
He said: ‘People are so angry at what is taking place. Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country.’
He added: ‘If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen. The people of this country are not going to stand for another scam.’
During Monday’s raid of Trump’s Florida home, FBI agents took 11 sets of classified documents, photographs and other files marked ‘top secret’ among boxes of items.
In all, FBI agents took 27 boxes of documents, according to the federal warrant.
The inventory of items taken by the agents includes some specific items, including an ‘Executive Grant of Clemency: Re Roger Jason Stone Jr’ – a former Trump adviser who was pardoned in the last days of Trump’s presidency – and ‘info re: President of France.’
The list also includes more generic labels like ‘Various classified/TS/SCI documents.’ In the national security world, the ‘TS/SCI’ abbreviation generally refers to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information – available only to those with the highest level of clearance.
Also listed are four sets of ‘top secret’ documents, three of ‘secret’ documents and three sets of ‘confidential’ documents, but the receipt offers no further information about what they contained.
Lawyers for Trump insisted that as the president he had the power to declassify the documents before leaving office.
The ‘Receipt for Property’ lists items seized, including an ‘Executive Grant of Clemency: Re Roger Jason Stone Jr’ – a former Trump adviser who was pardoned in the last days of Trump’s presidency – ‘info re: President of France ‘ and a ‘handwritten note’
The above timeline highlights just some of former president Donald’s battles with the National Archives since leaving office, including an unrelated court fight with the January 6 committee
Trump also has accused the FBI of taking documents that fall under attorney-client privilege and demanded that they were returned.
He said on Sunday: ‘Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged ‘attorney-client’ material, and also ‘executive’ privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken.’
He said the FBI should consider his post on the alternative social media site his formal request that the documents be returned to his Palm Beach estate.
‘By copy of this TRUTH,’ Trump wrote on Sunday, ‘I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!’
Monday’s raid was part of a longer-running investigation into documents Trump took with him when he left the White House.
Under the Presidential Records Act, all such documents must be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration at the end of each presidential administration.
The law declared all presidential and vice presidential records property of the federal government, with ‘custody, control and preservation’ of the records delegated to the National Archives when a president leaves office.
Trump returned 15 boxes to the Archives earlier this year. But, on Monday, in a day-long search, agents went through storage space at Mar-a-Lago and areas in Trump’s personal residence, removing more material.
Since the raid, the FBI has reported a spike in the number of threats against the bureau and notable figures across social media.
Reactions included the ubiquitous ‘Lock and load’ and calls for federal agents and even Garland to be assassinated.
On Gab – a social media site popular with white supremacists and antisemites – one poster going by the name of Stephen said he was awaiting ‘the call’ to mount an armed revolution.
‘All it takes is one call. And millions will arm up and take back this country. It will be over in less than 2 weeks,’ the post said.
Another Gab poster implored others: ‘Lets get this started! This unelected, illegitimate regime crossed the line with their GESTAPO raid! It is long past time the lib socialist filth were cleansed from American society!’
Christopher Wray, who was appointed as the FBI’s director in 2017, last week said ‘violence’ against the FBI and the Department of Justice employees is ‘not the answer’.
Authorities monitoring social media posts are reporting a significant rise in death threats directed at FBI agents, its director Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, according to Fox News.
‘I am always concerned about threats to law enforcement,’ Wray said on Wednesday. ‘Violence against law enforcement is not the answer, no matter who you’re upset with.’
Reports suggest a surge in online death threats against Attorney General Merrick Garland (left) and FBI Director Christopher Wray after agents searched Mar-a-Lago
Mar-a-Lago is closed for the summer. Its well-heeled members generally leave Florida for cooler locations, only returning for the winter. Trump was in New York on Monday
Trump’s ex-National Security advisor John Bolton says Trump is LYING and showing ‘desperation’ for claims he had a ‘standing order’ that all documents he took from the Oval Office would be declassified
Donald Trump’s former national security advisor John Bolton accused the ex-president of lying when he claimed Friday to have a ‘standing order’ that all documents taken from the White House while he was in office were to be declassified.
Bolton said the claim was ‘almost certainly a lie’ in a New York Times piece published on Sunday. ‘When somebody begins to concoct lies like this, it shows a real level of desperation,’ he said.
It comes about a week after Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was targeted in an unannounced search by FBI agents who took a trove of documents sought by the National Archives and Records Administration.
The warrant, which was unsealed on Friday, suggests the former president took top secret documents and may have violated the Espionage Act.
Trump has offered multiple rebuttals, from claiming he was cooperating with investigators to insisting the ‘raid’ was a political ‘witch hunt.’
On Friday, ex-Fox News contributor John Solomon – who is representing Trump with the National Archives, according to the Times – read a statement claiming the documents were declassified already.
‘As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different,’ Solomon read.
Former Trump National Security advisor John Bolton said the ex-president’s ‘standing order’ declassifying documents is ‘almost certainly a lie’
‘President Trump in order to prepare the work the next day often took documents including classified documents to the residence. He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken to the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.’
But Bolton told the Times he never heard such an order during or after serving in the Trump administration from April 2018 into September 2019.
‘I was never briefed on any such order, procedure, policy when I came in,’ Bolton said.
‘If he were to say something like that, you would have to memorialize that, so that people would know it existed.’
The former national security official added that Trump had secure facilities installed in his New Jersey and Florida residences so that documents that needed to be brought on his travels did not have to be declassified.
Trump’s claim to have declassified all of the documents comes after it was revealed his lawyers told investigators in June that all of the top secret records the ex-president took to Mar-a-Lago were back in the National Archives’ possession.
Officials from the National Archives traveled to Mar-a-Lago in January to retrieve 15 boxes of files that were to be left at the White House when Trump left office roughly 12 months before.
The Archives later confirmed the Washington Post’s report that some of the records were labeled ‘top secret.’
Trump’s latest explanation appears to be undercut by prior comments from his lawyer, One America News host Christina Bobb, in an interview she gave the day after the raid.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida was targeted in an unannounced FBI search last Monday
She admitted there could be some files recovered labeled ‘classified secret’ but hastily added she believes they would have ‘no significant meaning’ in comments to the Trump-friendly Right Side Broadcasting Network.
In the days since the FBI’s operation, Trump’s allies and supporters have heaped verbal attacks on federal law enforcement and insisted Attorney General Merrick Garland is weaponizing the Justice Department against President Joe Biden’s political rival.
On Sunday the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin warning of an ‘increase in violent threats’ made online against officers, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters and issuing general calls for ‘civil war’ and ‘armed rebellion.”
It said the FBI and DHS have ‘identified multiple articulated threats and calls for the targeted killing of judicial, law enforcement, and government officials associated with the Palm Beach search, including the federal judge who approved the Palm Beach search warrant.’
It also highlights an incident last week when an armed Navy veteran tried to force his way into the FBI’s Cincinnati office and was shot dead in a standoff with police.
EXCLUSIVE: All business in the Big Apple! Melania masks up for rare outing to Trump Tower in New York wearing a chic black suit and toting a $7,000 Chanel handbag – after Donald revealed the FBI rummaged through her closets during Mar-a-Lago raid
Melania was all business as she arrived at Trump Tower in New York City in a black power suit while toting a $7,000 Chanel handbag – days after Donald revealed the FBI rummaged through her closet during the recent raid on their Mar-a-Lago home.
Melania, 52, donned dark trousers, a white top, and a matching, unbuttoned jacket as she made her way into her and Donald’s Manhattan apartment building.
She paired the look with black pumps and a turn-lock, diamond-quilted Chanel briefcase; unfortunately, it is no longer available from the brand so its original price is unknown, but is currently being resold online for $6,800.
She kept her highlighted blonde locks in loose, beach-like waves around her face, and shielded her eyes with dark sunglasses.
She also wore a black face mask, which is unusual for the businesswoman, as she and her husband have rarely put them on since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
In fact, Donald, 76, refused to wear one for the first few months of the pandemic, played down their effectiveness, and even mocked current President Joe Biden for using them during one of their debates in October 2020.
Melania was all business as she arrived at Trump Tower in New York City in a black power suit while toting a $7,000 Chanel handbag – days after Donald revealed the FBI rummaged through her closet during the recent raid on their Mar-a-Lago home
Melania, 52, donned dark trousers, a white top, and a matching, unbuttoned jacket as she made her way into her and Donald’s Manhattan apartment building
She paired the look with black pumps and a turn-lock, diamond-quilted Chanel briefcase
‘I don’t wear masks like [Biden]. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,’ he said during the debate. ‘He could be speaking 200 feet away from it, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve seen.’
He also stated after it was first suggested that people start wearing face masks to stop the spread of the virus: ‘It’s voluntary. You don’t have to do it. [The CDC] suggested it for a period of time, but this is voluntary.
‘I don’t think I’m going to be doing it. I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens – I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just, I just don’t.’
The former first lady was surrounded by secret service as she exited her black SUV and entered the building.
Unfortunately, it is no longer available from the brand so its original price is unknown, but is currently being resold online for $6,800
The spotting comes exactly one week after the Trumps’ home in Florida was raided by FBI – which is believed to have been carried out to retrieve documents that the former president took from the White House when he left in January 2021.
By law, all presidential correspondence and documentation must be handed over to the National Archives, but it has been reported that Donald did not comply.
FBI agents were reportedly inside the 128-room Florida estate for nine hours last Monday, with 30 agents roaming through the 3,000-square-foot private quarters.
It’s been said that investigators ransacked his office for several hours – even going so far as to search through Melania’s wardrobe, Donald revealed in a social media post days after.
He wrote that they ‘went through the First Lady’s closets and rummaged through her clothing and personal items,’ adding, ‘Surprisingly, they left the area in a relative mess.’
The agents also searched a locked basement storage room in which 15 cardboard boxes of material from the White House were stored, the New York Post reported.
Sources told the outlet that Trump’s attorneys, led by Evan Corcoran, were ‘cooperating fully’ with federal authorities to arrange the return of the documents, with the process beginning in May 2021, when it was noticed that some records were missing.
She kept her highlighted blonde locks in loose, beach-like waves around her face, and shielded her eyes with dark sunglasses
She also wore a black face mask, which is unusual for the businesswoman, as she and her husband have rarely put them on since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020
The former first lady was surrounded by secret service as she exited her black SUV and entered the building
In January 2022, some of the documents were returned, but apparently, not all were. Then, in early June, four top DOJ officials traveled to Mar-a-Lago to speak with the former president’s attorneys about the documents.
The DOJ’s counterintelligence and export control section chief, Jay Bratt, was reportedly among the group who sat down with Donald’s lawyers.
At one point, the former president himself reportedly stopped in to say hello and ‘make small talk’ before leaving again, CNN reported.
During the visit, Donald’s team showed the government officials where he was storing documents – in a basement. Days later, the FBI reportedly sent a letter to his staff asking them to secure the room where they observed the documents being stored. Aides then padlocked the area, according to CNN.
It is unclear what transpired between June and this week to make the federal investigators decide to forcibly claim the documents, but a former FBI agent told DailyMail.com that last Monday’s raid was likely sparked by new information from an ‘informant’ and a breakdown in cooperation between the agency and former president.
Retired FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Tabman, who served the agency for 24 years, said a raid of this level of sensitivity would need to be approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
‘I think there was inside information – call it an informant if you want,’ he said. ‘I believe either someone told them something or some other information was stumbled upon, which was kind of conclusive in their minds that they had to go now to get that or they’re not getting it.’
Tabman claimed while there was cooperation between Trump and the FBI at one point, the agency may have gotten a sense that the former president and his team were ‘telling them what they want to tell them, with limited information.’
FBI protocol, according to Tabman, is to move forward with seizing information once they feel that ‘voluntarily’ obtaining it is no longer viable.
The spotting comes exactly one week after the Trumps’ home in Florida was raided by FBI – which is believed to have been carried out to retrieve documents that the former president took from the White House when he left in January 2021
Donald revealed in a social media post that the FBI even searched through Melania’s wardrobe. He wrote that they ‘went through the First Lady’s closets and rummaged through her clothing and personal items,’ adding that they left it in a mess’
‘You know, everything could disappear,’ Tabman said. ‘You got evidence that you need to get before it disappears or it moves and you can’t see it anymore.’
In order to obtain the warrant for a raid, the FBI would need to prove probable cause and conduct the search in a timely manner. Agents can’t just ‘poke around’ someone’s home in a case like this, Tabman added.
He also claimed the FBI could have gotten the sense that Trump was just no longer being ‘fully cooperative’ with the investigation – leading them to see the raid approval.
The ex-president was at Trump Tower in New York City when the FBI raided his Florida estate. His son Eric Trump told Fox News that he was the one to inform his father of the raid.
Donald and his allies quickly sought to cast the search as a weaponization of the criminal justice system and a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024 – though the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge and current FBI Director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Donald five years ago.
Donald spoke out about the search in a lengthy statement late Monday, describing it as an ‘unannounced raid’ that he likened to ‘prosecutorial misconduct.’
‘These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,’ he said.
‘I stood up to America’s bureaucratic corruption, I restored power to the people, and truly delivered for our Country, like we have never seen before.
‘The establishment hated it. Now, as they watch my endorsed candidates win big victories, and see my dominance in all polls, they are trying to stop me, and the Republican Party, once more. The lawlessness, political persecution, and Witch Hunt must be exposed and stopped.’