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Tampa attorney and former FBI agent calls FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home an 'extreme measure'

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Posted at 8:55 PM, Aug 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 05:20:17-04

TAMPA, Fla. — On Monday, the FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

ABC News is reporting that the search was related to the 15 boxes of documents that Trump took to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House, some of which were marked classified.

Stetson Constitutional Law professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy explained why that could lead to an FBI search.

"Presidential records are property of the United States, so it's not his personal property and I’m not sure if he was under some mistaken belief about this or he took them anyway, but he is not allowed to keep those documents," said Torres-Spelliscy.

Tampa attorney Todd Foster who is a former FBI agent and former assistant U.S. Attorney, said before a search is conducted, there is a detailed process that includes an FBI agent convincing a federal judge to sign it.

"To convince the federal judge that probable cause exists involves two things, number one, that a crime has been committed, and number two, that evidence of that crime can be found in the place the agent seeks to search," said Foster.

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But some wonder if the FBI search was an overreach. Foster said how it was executed still remains to be seen, but he said there are other methods of getting information that usually come first such as asking him to voluntarily surrender the documents or getting a grand jury subpoena to get them.

"A search warrant issued at the home of a former president is an extreme measure so one must ask; were less extreme measures available to reach the same goal to obtain the documents that are being sought?" said Foster.

Others have wondered why Florida lawmakers did not step in. Torres-Spelliscy said there is nothing the state can do about an FBI investigation and she said constitutionally, the former president is like a regular citizen.

"There is no special protection for ex-presidents," said Torres-Spelliscy.

The FBI maintains that they do not comment on ongoing investigations. But Foster said a search like this had to be well planned.

"A search warrant of this level, of this magnitude, not the magnitude of what was being seized but the magnitude of where its taking place, in my view, had to be approved at the very highest levels of the Department of Justice," said Foster.