Donald Trump on Tuesday tried to turn the news that the FBI had searched his Florida estate to his benefit, citing the investigation in text messages and emails soliciting political donations from his supporters.
The unprecedented search of the home of the former US president marked a significant escalation of the federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he was leaving office in January 2021. Trump continues to publicly flirt with running again for president in 2024 but has not said clearly whether he will do so.
Trump tried to paint the search of his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach as a politically motivated move by President Joe Biden's administration even as the former president plays a key role in Republican primaries ahead of the November midterm elections that will determine control of the US Congress.
"They are trying to stop the Republican Party and me once more," Trump said in a fundraising email on Tuesday. "The lawlessness, political persecution, and Witch Hunt, must be exposed and stopped."
His Republican allies in Congress vowed to launch an investigation of the search itself if they recapture majorities in the House or Senate in November.
The Justice Department and FBI have declined to comment on or even confirm the search, which Trump disclosed in a statement on Monday.
But the FBI could never have conducted the search without the approval of a judge who confirmed there was probable cause, and the request would almost certainly would also be approved by FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, and his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by Biden.
A White House official said Biden was not given advance notice of the search. (Reuters)