What We Know About the Mar-a-Lago Search

Trump’s very bad week continues. Today he was deposed by lawyers from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office. He took the Fifth.

Today, Trump’s lawyers are claiming that the FBI found nothing incriminating at Mar-a-Lago but also that they planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago.

At WaPo, Philip Bump reviews what we know, and don’t know, about Monday’s FBI search of Mar-a-Lago (no paywall). This is worth reading, as it includes a lot of details about what was going on at Mar-a-Lago during the search. In brief: A pack of agents arrived at 9 am. The Secret Service was not told in advance they were coming. There were no guests staying there, and Trump was in New York/New Jersey, so the place was pretty empty.

The lawyers started arriving about 10 am. The lawyers who have seen the warrant verified that the agents were looking for documents, including classified documents, that belong to the government and shouldn’t have been removed from the White House.

The search concluded about 6:30 pm. The agents removed about 12 boxes of materials, most of which had been stored in a basement.

Another good source of information is this timeline by Zach Montague at the New York Times (no paywall). This goes back to the day before Trump vacated the White House. It appears the Justice Department initiated an investigation into Trump’s document violations in April.

Some time last spring, some federal agents, including one involved in counterintelligence, met with Trump and some of his lawyers at Mar-a-Lago. Philip Bump’s article said that at this meeting it was learned a lot of documents were stored in a basement with no security whatsoever. After that meeting, Trump put a padlock on the door, which was broken on Monday. So the searchers knew the documents were there.

A comment I heard repeated on MSNBC last night was that possibly the DoJ obtained a search warrant instead of a subpoena because of national security concerns.

Why would Trump want to hoard secret government documents in his basement? One, incrimination; two, leverage; three, maybe he could sell them for a lot of money.

Another comment I heard on the teevee is that there could be a connection between the seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s phone yesterday and the Mar-a-Lago documents. Preliminary examination of the documents might have prompted the seizure of the phone. This is speculation, obviously.

So that’s as much as we know right now, I believe.

Update: This morning there were rumors in rightieworld that there must have been an informant. Now Newsweek is reporting there was an informant, according to unnamed government officials.  But I don’t see why an informant was necessary, since the feds already knew Trump was keeping a bunch of White House documents in the basement. The only way this would be significant would be if the informant described some especially sensitive document.