Former President Donald Trump said in a lengthy statement Monday that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
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, but a Secret Service official told NBC News they were notified of the FBI's intent to search the property earlier Monday.
“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.
The search, two people familiar with the investigation told The New York Times, appeared to be focused on material Trump brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, after leaving the White House. A source familiar to the situation told NBC News that it is the Trump team’s understanding the investigation is related to the transfer of documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago and that several boxes of documents were seized by agents.
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The Justice Department had previously 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.
The FBI raid came days after Attorney General Merrick Garland told NBC News that the "most wide-ranging investigation" in Justice Department history was examining not only the rioters who invaded the Capitol and physically attacked officers, but was also examining whether anyone was “criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another."
The action also comes as Trump has been laying the groundwork to make another bid for president.
The search marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump. Though a search warrant does not suggest that criminal charges are near or even expected, federal officials looking to obtain one must demonstrate that they have probable cause that a crime occurred.
Of how the law enforcement action might affect Trump’s political aspirations, a person close to Trump told NBC News: “If he wasn’t running before, he is now.”
The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, appeared to be suggesting that Trump might benefit from being an active candidate for the presidency if he faces legal jeopardy.
A Secret Service official told NBC News the FBI notified the agency early Monday about the bureau's intention to execute a search warrant at the former president's home.
The notification was issued a few hours before the execution of the warrant. No time was provided or length of the stay on the property. The Secret Service maintains its role of protection for the former president and is not part of any investigation.
The White House said it was not notified ahead of the search that it would be taking place.
The Trumps are not in Florida over the summer and typically leave Mar-a-Lago after Mother's Day when the club closes for the season and returns in the fall. Trump has been seen in recent days at his Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey and was seen leaving Trump Tower in New York City Monday evening.
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.
The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.