Donald Trump’s allies are suddenly not quite so eager to defend him and attack the FBI over agents’ search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home amid new reports about what might have been found and possible charges he could face.
“As people around him have learned more details about the extent of what he was keeping there, and the various efforts behind the scenes to get them, short of a search warrant, alarm has grown in recent days when you talk to advisers of the former president,” Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey said Friday on MSNBC. “Some of them are starting to go dark and to stay as far away from this as they can.”
Dawsey said even some of those close to the former president may have no idea what kind of documents he was keeping, indicating they may be startled by what they’re now learning.
FBI agents on Monday removed 20 boxes of documents, including 11 sets of classified information, from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and resort in Florida, according to the warrant and property receipt used by the FBI to conduct the search. The documents were unsealed by a federal magistrate judge Friday at the request of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Some of the seized classified information was highly sensitive and top secret, designated to remain only in a secure government facility. Sources told The Washington Post in a report Thursday that some of the classified documents were believed to be related to nuclear weapons, which was a key reason for the urgent search.
The warrant indicated that Trump is under investigation for a possible violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and removing and destroying official documents. No specifics were provided in the documents.
The Espionage Act prohibits anyone from obtaining defense information with the possible intent of using it against the U.S. or to further the interests of a foreign country.
After the search, several right-wing extremists erupted online, posting calls for a civil war and for Americans to “lock and load” after Trump and a number of Republican lawmakers used incendiary language to disparage the FBI and the Department of Justice.
Trump has called the legal search a “raid,” a “siege,” “lawless” and “corrupt.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) claimed, without any evidence, on Thursday that the FBI agents executing the search warrant went “rogue,” and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said it was time to “destroy the FBI.”
Though several Trump allies appear to be “going dark,” Dawsey predicted that others will continue to speak out on the former president’s behalf, citing their faith in his “Houdini-like” ability to escape accountability.