(CNN)FBI investigation of former President Donald Trump's residence in Florida on Mondayis anomalous investigation Whether his legal exposure extends beyond whether he improperly took government records when he left the White House to handle certain documents from his presidency that showed escalation. Raise the question.
It's still unclear what the FBI was looking for, and why. However, to obtain an investigation warrant, the investigator would have had to show the judge that there was a probable cause of the crime and that evidence of the crime was at Trump's Palm Beach Resort, Marago.
This is what you need to know about the legal significance of the investigation that will take place as Trump prepares for the possibility of a 2024 presidential election, and what may come next. is.
What was needed The DOJ obtained an investigation warrant.
In order to obtain judicial approval for the investigation, the investigator takes a detailed affidavit to prove that there is a cause that may be believed to have been committed and that evidence exists. I would have had to present the affidavit to the judge. Recently, there is a crime in the property being searched.
The investigation warrant should have been sealed and submitted. That is, its details are not published at this time (although it may be published in the future). A federal court in West Palm Beach has listed only one sealed investigation warrant application that has not yet been closed as of Friday since June.
However, before the prosecutor asks the judge to approve the warrant, the investigator is OK from the highest level to proceed with the investigation with such historical and political significance. Would have had to get. At the Justice Department level, a legal expert told CNN.
Former DOJ officials told CNN that at least Attorney General Lisa Monaco could have had to give a green light, and Attorney General Merrick Garland and / or FBI Director Chris Ray could. Told. We are also consulting.
"Not only did the investigator have to propose it, but the prosecutor had to agree with it, but multiple management would have had to approve it. -The general until the lawyer. " Former Justice Minister lawyer Daren Firestone told CNN.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
What does this mean for Trump's legal exposure?
According to legal experts, taking extraordinary steps to enforce an investigation warrant at the former president's home is more than what the National Archives had previously recovered from Mar-a-Lago. Suggests that you are looking at something.
"I really don't believe they have taken an important step in pursuing a warrant for the president's residence on the information they already had," said former FBI Deputy Director and CNN. Andrew McCabe's contributor said in CNN's "News Room." "They believed that there was additional material that was not handed over because of allegations, concerns, and the fact that there had to be specific information."
Before the news of the investigation on Monday. The law, known as the Presidential Records Act, was at the forefront of public speculation about Trump's legal dangers, as other investigative measures were taken in connection with the handling of documents from Trump's White House. .. The law, passed after the Watergate scandal, clarified that certain records from the president belonged to the general public rather than the original officials, not a criminal law, but a relatively toothless law. Has been regarded as.
The presence of an investigation warrant and the FBI means a criminal investigation. There are other record-keeping laws that result in criminal penalties, such as the espionage law, but at this time it is not clear which criminal law is involved in the Justice Department's investigation.
It is a crime to destroy or delete federal records or mishandle confidential documents. There are other federal laws aimed at preventing tampering with the information under investigation.
Investigators need something serious enough to be worth more than a wrist tap to escalate their search, says Firestone, a partner at Levy Firestone, a current DC-based company. Said Muse.
Why now? The
investigation was conducted two months after an unreported June 3 meeting between a Justice Ministry investigator and Trump's lawyer at the resort. During a visit reported by CNN on Monday, four investigators, including the head of the counterintelligence and export control section, toured the basement where the boxes of materials were stored.
Five days later, the investigator sent a letter to Trump's lawyer asking him to secure more room to store his documents, urging his aide to add a padlock to the room.
The FBI's enforcement of the investigation warrant two months later is confident that federal authorities are not happy with what they saw on their visit or that they are willing to cooperate with Trump's team. It suggests that there isn't. The legal expert said. Federal authorities may also have required official approval to regain the classified records.
"The fact that the FBI learned that Trump still had the documents at [Mar A Lago] in June and felt the need to return with an investigation order two months later Trump and his staff hold additional categorized records and have not taken steps to properly revert them to the archive, indicating to me that the authorities have that evidence. "
It can take months for the Justice Department to decide to do a search and how to do it.
When the FBI left Mar-a-Lago, Trump's team would have received a document similar to the receipt of what was taken. However, the DOJ can be as ambiguous as needed in the document.
The Justice Ministry is broader, as revealed in a Monday night court filing on the search for former Trump lawyer John Eastman, who led the plan to overturn 2020. The Justice Ministry can keep a wide range of its investigations secret in elections.
Prosecutors in their filings that the Justice Department opposed Eastman's request to return the equipment seized from him in late June in New Mexico on January 6. Said that the Justice Department had no obligation to share. Eastman gives details about the status of that probe.
"There is no doubt that the government wants to have full knowledge of its ability to involve [federal agencies] in the debate over the government's investigation and the basis of the warrant. "Filing said. "But the law only requires a neutral judge to search for and find possible causes for seizure of his electronic device, and the searcher needs to know the basis of the warrant. No. "
What will happen next?
Trump's lawyer was alert to the FBI's actions on Monday, and Trump's team told DOJ about the handling of documents in their interactions with former investigators. I still don't know how I've claimed it.
Trump may take preemptive legal action to challenge the FBI's method of handling the investigation in court. Perhaps destroying the evidence obtained by the investigator, or at least what investigator is investigating.
But without such court activity, the next step in the investigation can continue very secretly.
Will Trump be barred from running for president if he is found to be in breach of recording law?
But if he is convicted under it, there are questions about the constitutionality of the law and its applicability to the Trump presidential election.
The Constitution provides specific qualifications for the presidency and a separate impeachment process for the president to disqualify him from future appointments, so Congress has the power to enact such laws. Some argue that there is no such thing. Applies to presidential candidates.