News of an FBI search at former President Trump’s Florida residence on Monday quickly triggered a cascade of speculation about what the federal government was looking for at Trump’s home and what the legal implications for the former president could be.
It remains unclear exactly why agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, but law enforcement sources have told several outlets that the warrant was executed in connection with classified material Trump reportedly took from the White House when he left office two years ago.
Trump is under investigation as it relates to a number of other matters, including his private business dealings and efforts to fight the result of the 2020 election.
News of the FBI search broke just before prime-time on cable television and drove the news cycle overnight into early Tuesday morning.
Fox hosts decry the search
“If you are associated with Donald Trump in any way, you better cross all your i’s and dot all your t’s,” Sean Hannity declared on his show Monday. “Because they are coming for you with the full force of the federal government.”
Hannity is close personal friend of Trump’s and was among the top Fox hosts whom the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol found was texting with former chief of staff Mark Meadows pleading with him to get Trump to stop the attack.
Another one of those hosts, Laura Ingraham, blasted the federal government on her show immediately following Hannity’s suggestion that the search was political in nature and that Republicans could use the incident in their favor if they win power over Congress back this fall.
“When we get power back, it’s time to hold everyone accountable. The military leadership, the civilian leadership, the civil service, those in Congress who have abused their power, all of them have to held accountable,” Ingraham said.
Mark Levin, the bombastic radio personality who also hosts a weekend show on Fox, described the search at Mar-a-Lago as “the worst attack on this republic in modern history.”
‘Never Trump’ pundits gleeful
Reports of the raid were welcome news to a number of prominent Trump critics who have worked to undermine him and his supporters since he broke through in Republican politics.
“It was a beautiful raid. A perfect raid. People tell me they’ve never seen such as perfect raid,” joked Rick Wilson, a founder of The Lincoln Project.
Tim Miller, another former Republican operative now writing for the anti-Trump website The Bulwark, offered his thoughts as well, saying “if you are among those concerned that the DOJ and FBI are investigating political targets: consider not trying a violent coup next time and that should resolve the issue.”
Bill Kristol, a longtime conservative commentator and one of Trump’s earliest Republican critics, implored the former president’s supporters to “urge Trump to make the presumably flimsy and unjustified search warrant public. Now.”
Left-leaning cable outlets ripe with speculation
With few details immediately available about the nature of the search or what could come next, analysts on networks MSNBC and CNN took to the airwaves to float theories about what the implications of Monday’s raid would be.
“The reason I show up on these shows is because I believe so much in the rule of law,” former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. “What it signifies to me, the news yesterday, is that the Justice Department is returning to its historical position as a law enforcement agency above politics, trying to do the right thing and enforce the laws when they’re violated.”
“I think anytime the Federal Bureau of Investigation comes to your house early in the morning and knocks on the door and starts rummaging through your home with a list of things that it’s specifically looking for, you should be worried,” said George Conway, the conservative attorney and Trump critic who is now a CNN contributor and has participated in the network’s coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings this summer.
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s top-rated prime-time host, called news of the FBI search “both astonishing and sort of inevitable in equal measure.”
“I do think it’s worth pausing and reflecting that we do not know where this leads,” she said on her show Monday. “It is amazing what we have been through with this guy. We have no idea where it goes from here.”