4 lingering misconceptions about the FBI raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago
Trumpworld is sowing doubt about what happened during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. Feds are starting to provide some answers, but confusion reigns.Memories of Mar-a-Lago came flooding back Monday night when the news broke that the FBI had executed a search warrant on Donald Trump's permanent residence.
© Giorgio Viera/Getty Images Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather near his residence at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on August 9, 2022. Giorgio Viera/Getty Images
- Some on the far right have been calling for civil war since an FBI raid on Trump's Florida home.
- Some experts say the warning signs for civil war have been emerging in the US in recent years.
- But they also say that such a conflict would look very different from the Civil War of the 1860s.
After FBI raid, Trump supporters waived flags outside Mar-a-Lago hoping to see the former president drive by to check on his home
- Trump said the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Monday.
- The search is reportedly tied to presidential documents Trump took with him from the White House.
- Trump supporters gathered outside the private club Tuesday.
PALM BEACH, Florida — Following the FBI raid of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, several dozen Trump supporters gathered Tuesday on a bridge that extends outside the private estate.
Trump doesn't deny taking classified nuclear documents from the White House while baselessly accusing Obama of the same thing
Obama "kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified," Trump falsely claimed. "How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!"Instead, he again attacked former President Barack Obama, falsely accusing him of illegally keeping classified documents.
Just a small crowd of supporters had gathered as of 2 p.m. Several people who said they were part of Club 45 — an independent Trump-supporting organization — said more people would assemble from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., after people were done working for the day. Traffic was becoming more backed up by 3 p.m. By 5 p.m., about 60 people had gathered on the bridge.
Several Trump supporters told Insider they'd heard that Trump would be driving by himself later in the day to get back into Mar-a-Lago and assess his belongings, though a local police officer refuted the rumor to Insider.
In interviews, Trump supporters said they thought the FBI raid was politically motivated and would ultimately grow Trump's support, but said they weren't concerned about a civil war. Many repeated false claims that there was widespread fraud during the 2020 election.
Extremism experts warn of echoes of Jan. 6 in rightist response to FBI Mar-a-Lago raid
Extremism experts warn of echoes of Jan. 6 in rightist response to FBI Mar-a-Lago raidScreenshots taken from Trump’s social media platform, Truth Social, show that an account using Shiffer’s name, which appears to have been removed, posted a “call to arms” on Tuesday morning, hours after Trump confirmed the raid had taken place at his Florida residence a day earlier.
All said they hoped Trump would run again in 2024 but picked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a second-favorite, or even as a potential running mate.
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The street outside Mar-a-Lago was quiet on Tuesday morning
Mar-a-Lago is Trump's permanent residence, and he is expected to vote from Florida in the November midterms. But he doesn't live there year-round. As Insider reported in June, he escapes the Sunshine State during the sweltering summer months.
According to CNN, Trump was at Trump Tower in New York City at the time of the raid.
He spends his summers living at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. On Tuesday night, he'll be hosting US House Republicans there.
Protestors gathered on a bridge that leads from West Palm Beach to Palm Beach, where Mar-a-Lago is
Pro-Trump supporters parked their cars on the sides of the road and trickled in and out of the area throughout the day to show their support. It was a humid, 87-degree day, and many people stayed in their cars.
Armed Trump supporters protest outside FBI office in Phoenix following Mar-a-Lago raid: reports
Donald Trump supporters, some armed with semi-automatic rifles and handguns, held "Abolish FBI" signs outside the office in Phoenix, Arizona.My visits there as a White House reporter for Politico more than five years ago came during the earliest days of Trump's presidency. They gave me an up-close look into all of the controversy and celebrity hoopla that surrounded a man who just months earlier had become the most powerful person on the planet.
Technically, people are not allowed to be parked on the bridge because it's a construction site, but two police officers were unsuccessful at clearing out the rally-goes and media that had gathered.
A police officer told Insider that barricades would be placed on the bridge overnight, after people leave, to prevent people from parking there.
Usually when there's a pro-Trump rally going on in the area, protesters will gather at a Publix parking lot that's about 1.5 miles west because there's more space for people to park their cars. The bridge holds about 40 cars back to back.
Several Trump supporters didn't stop on the bridge but instead waved flags outside of their cars and honked as they drove by.
Most rally-goers said they saw the FBI raid as politically motivated
Mary Ma, an immigrant from China who lives in Orlando, said she was at the rally to support Trump and that she believed the raid was designed to stop him from running in 2024.
According to reporting from several news outlets, the search appears to be over boxes of documents that Trump brought back to Florida when he left the White House. That decision spurred a federal investigation, and likely the search on Monday, linked to the Presidential Records Act.
Trump is privately pushing the theory the attack on an Ohio FBI office by a Trump supporter was a false flag, report says
Trump, who hasn't said much about the death of a supporter who tried to breach an FBI office, has aired various ideas about him behind the scenes.Just a small crowd of supporters had gathered as of 2 p.m. Several people who said they were part of Club 45 — an independent Trump-supporting organization — said more people would assemble from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., after people were done working for the day. Traffic was becoming more backed up by 3 p.m. By 5 p.m., about 60 people had gathered on the bridge.
Legal experts told Insider that the raid of Mar-a-Lago most likely required reviews at the highest levels and convincing evidence supporting a finding of probable cause.
They shot down the possibility of a civil war
Lisa Blu of Boca Raton, Florida, told Insider that she thought more independents and Democrats would join Republicans after the FBI raid on Trump's home.
Tucker Carlson: There's a reason the public's confidence in the FBI has plummeted
Donald Trump loyalists are now targeting the FBI with threats and violence. Truth Social users in particular have doxxed--sharing their sensitive, personal information online--the judge and FBI agent involved in the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. Tiffany Cross in for Joy Reid and our panel bring you their expert analysis of these developments on The ReidOut on MSNBC.
"What happened should show the rest of the world that the game is over," said Blu, who writes under that name.
"It is us against the government," she said. "If that could happen to President Trump, it could happen to you or I, to any of us."
But Blu refuted some Republicans' calls for a civil war.
"There is no need for a civil war," she said when asked by Insider about the possibility. "This hopefully brought logical voters together, both middle-of-the-road Democrats and Republicans."
If Republicans take control of the US House in November then they should home in on the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the CIA, she said.
One Trump supporter said she thought the raid was 'outrageous'
Pat, of Jupiter, Florida, said was attending a Trump rally outside Mar-a-Lago for the first time and that she thought what the FBI had done was "outrageous."
"It will make the Republicans even angrier and they'll support him even more," she said.
Pat declined to share her last name, joking the "IRS will hunt me down," referring to the increase in budget and workforce for the IRS in a forthcoming bill from Democrats.
They want Republicans to launch Trump-related investigations
Several Trump supporters said that if Republicans take control of the US House in November, they should use their investigation powers to look into the raid.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California threatened on Tuesday to investigate the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Former Trump campaign official says Trump has already moved on from the Mar-a-Lago raid: 'It's business as usual for him'
People in Trump's orbit say the former president is "measured" following the Mar-a-Lago raid and is planning to announce a 2024 run soon.My visits there as a White House reporter for Politico more than five years ago came during the earliest days of Trump's presidency. They gave me an up-close look into all of the controversy and celebrity hoopla that surrounded a man who just months earlier had become the most powerful person on the planet.
But Pat, of Jupiter, said she didn't support McCarthy for speaker. She'd rather it go to GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, she said. She added that more investigations should take place into Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
Dorffman said that Republicans should also investigate the January 6 committee.
Media gathered to interview Trump supporters and to talk about the raid with Mar-a-Lago in the backdrop
Several other outlets were covering the story on the ground, including NPR, Fox News, and CBS News.
Most people who drove by honked in support, but one man rolled down his windows and yelled of Trump, "Lock him up! Lock him up!"
Flags going across the bridge read, "America First," "Thank You, Trump, and the anti-President Joe Biden chant "Let's go Brandon."
Some people who gathered on Tuesday also protested at the Capitol on January 6, 2021
Ben Pollock said he was outside Mar-a-Lago to support Trump because his own home in Lakeland, Florida, had also been raided by the FBI.
Pollock and his family were in Washington during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
In the wake of an FBI search of former President Donald Trump's Florida home, some far-right figures have been spreading violent rhetoric online — including calls for war.
The Republican party has long portrayed itself as the defender of "law and order," but the aftermath of the raid has seen GOP lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene call for defunding the FBI.
Greene has also made references to "civil war" on social media as her Republican colleagues compare the FBI to the Gestapo and depict the raid as the type of thing that only happens in "third world" countries.
Meanwhile, pro-Trump internet channels have seen a spike in talk of civil war since the raid.
The FBI raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home came in a historically divisive period for the US, one in which millions of voters continue to believe the false notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.
Such erroneous claims were at the heart of what catalyzed the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol last year, and historians and experts on democracy warn that these lies continue to foster the potential for further violence. They also say that if the US did see civil war, it wouldn't look like the first one.
Fiona Hill, who served as the leading Russia expert on the National Security Council during the Trump administration, said in a conversation with Insider last month that the distrust in the electoral process and government institutions fomented by Trump and his GOP allies has created a "recipe for communal violence." Hill warned the US could ultimately "end up in a civil conflict."
The country is at a point in which "trust in the different communities and authorities" has eroded "to such an extent that people just start fighting with each other," Hill said.
But she also underscored that a civil conflict in the present day would be unlikely to look like the American Civil War, an extraordinarily bloody fight between the Union and Confederacy that left an estimated 618,000 to 750,000 Americans dead.
"I don't think we'd end up in the kind of conflict that we had between the states — the Union and the Confederacy — back in the day," Hill said. "But people's sense of the civil and civic ways of resolving disputes are out the window."
Less than a week after the raid on Trump's home, an armed man attempted to break into the FBI field office in Cincinnati. Authorities have not announced a motive but are reportedly investigating whether the man — who was ultimately killed by police — had ties to far right extremism.
The suspected gunman, Ricky Shiffer, appears to have posted calls for war and violence against the FBI on Trump's social media network Truth Social.
"If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I.," one post read. The account with Shiffer's name repeatedly parroted Trump's election lies, per CNN, and multiple reports also suggest that the suspect may have been at the Capitol on January 6.
'All of the warning signs for civil war have emerged' © Jon Cherry/Getty Images Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Jon Cherry/Getty Images
Barbara F. Walter, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego who specializes in political violence, warned in an April op-ed for the New Republic that over the past six years "all of the warning signs for civil war have emerged in the United States, and they have emerged at a surprisingly fast rate."
Walter, who has done extensive research on civil wars, expanded on this in an interview with The Washington Post last month. Like other scholars looking at these issues, Walter said the US isn't heading toward a conflict akin to the fight between the North and South.
"When people think about civil war, they think about the first civil war. And in their mind, that's what a second one would look like. And, of course, that's not the case at all," Walter told the Post. "What we're heading toward is an insurgency, which is a form of a civil war. That is the 21st-century version of a civil war, especially in countries with powerful governments and powerful militaries, which is what the United States is."
Walter went on to say that an insurgency is "more decentralized" and tends to be a fight between multiple groups. "They use unconventional tactics. They target infrastructure. They target civilians. They use domestic terror and guerrilla warfare. Hit-and-run raids and bombs," she said.
Right-wing extremists have been known to look to "The Turner Diaries," a novel that's been referred to as the bible of the far right, for a blueprint on how to take down a powerful government like the US, Walter said. The book, which is revered by white nationalist groups, tells the fictional tale of a civil war against the US government.
"One of the things it says is, Do not engage the U.S. military. You know, avoid it at all costs. Go directly to targets around the country that are difficult to defend and disperse yourselves so it's hard for the government to identify you and infiltrate you and eliminate you entirely," Walter told the Post.
Research shows that terrorists like the Oklahoma City bomber have been inspired by "The Turner Diaries."
During a recent meeting at the White House, a group of historians warned President Joe Biden that the US is facing threats not unlike those the country saw in the pre-Civil War period, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Historian Michael Beschloss, who has made the case that US democracy is in existential danger, was reportedly among the academics who spoke to Biden. Though he's sounding the alarm about the threats America's democracy is facing at present, Beschloss also says that a civil conflict in the US would be unlikely to resemble the devastating war of the 1860s.
Beschloss said in a social media post on Thursday that "if any kind of civil war faces Americans (may God forbid), it is unlikely to be two armies fighting over one paramount issue (slavery), as in 1861-1865, but sporadic, mounting bursts of violence against our federal government as it tries to enforce rule of law."
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Donald Trump and Mark Meadows' last-minute plan to declassify an FBI file and tip off a conservative journalist: NYT .
Donald Trump and Mark Meadows rushed to get a series of redactions approved and an FBI file declassified in the last days of the presidency, per a report.According to The Times, former chief of staff Mark Meadows had Trump's blessing to seek out the declassification of the binder containing unreleased information about the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane investigation.