Donald Trump claims the FBI 'raided' his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida

The FBI raid on Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate sent shockwaves across the US, as Ben Chapman reports

The FBI "raided" former US president Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an apparent probe into whether he took classified records from the White House.

Trump claimed agents had opened up a safe at his Florida home and described their work as an “unannounced raid” that he likened to “prosecutorial misconduct.”

The search comes amid a separate grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and adds to the potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run in 2024.

“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,” Trump wrote.

He added that "nothing like this has ever happened" to a president of the US before.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Trump claimed in his statement.

Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson declined to comment on the search, or comment on whether Attorney General Merrick Garland authorised it.

Though Trump framed the raid as part of a Democratic-driven effort to keep him from winning another term in 2024, the Biden White House said it had no prior knowledge of the raid.

The current FBI director, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump five years ago and served as a high-ranking official in a Republican-led Justice Department.

Trump did not elaborate on the basis for the search, but the Justice Department has been investigating the potential mishandling of classified information after the National Archives and Records Administration said it had retrieved from Mar-a-Lago 15 boxes of records containing classified information earlier this year.

The National Archives said Trump should have turned over that material upon leaving office, and it asked the Justice Department to investigate.

The Mar-a-Lago estate pictured in 2019. Credit: AP

Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the search happened earlier on Monday and was related to the records probe.

Agents were also looking to see if Trump had additional presidential records or any classified documents at the estate, reports say.

Trump has previously maintained that presidential records were turned over “in an ordinary and routine process.”

The entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. Credit: AP

The former President's son Eric Trump said on Fox News on Monday night that he had spent the day with his father and that the search happened because “the National Archives wanted to corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession.”

Asked how the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago, Eric Trump said the boxes were among items that got moved out of the White House during “six hours” on Inauguration Day, as the Bidens prepared to move into the building.

“My father always kept press clippings,” Eric Trump said. “He had boxes when he moved out of the White House.”

In a social media post on Monday night, Trump called the search a “weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”

Other Republicans echoed that message. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel denounced the search as “outrageous” and said it was a reason for voters to turn out for the November midterms.

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