It’s A Mystery What The FBI Wanted At Mar-a-Lago, But Trump Knows

US President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / A... US President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

For days, talking heads have been speculating, reporters have been inquiring: what did the FBI want at Mar-a-Lago?

It’s led to calls from virtually the entire Republican Party — most notably Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — for the DOJ to come out and explain itself. (That’s among the more moderate reaction from the GOP.)

But the reality here is simple: the person best placed to solve the mystery of what the FBI wanted here is Donald Trump.

Given his position as the person who controlled the records that were searched and then returned to their rightful owner — the federal government — Trump should know exactly what they contained.

There’s also documentation: Trump’s attorneys have said that they were alternately shown, and then, after the searches concluded, given a copy of the search warrant used to justify the raid. Typically, the FBI would also hand over an itemized list of all materials that were taken.

Those on the receiving end of an FBI search frequently disclose these documents to the press. Last year, for example, TPM received and published a search warrant and a list of items taken from a militia-linked Georgia couple who were present at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

It’s not unusual, and it wouldn’t violate any laws. Trump could easily release these records in full.

There are already indications that some of the information contained in the warrant has been selectively made public.

The New York Post was among the first to publish the name of the magistrate judge who purportedly signed off on the warrant. It did so, however, with a very specific spin: not only was the judge, Bruce Reinhart, an Obama donor, but he once represented employees of notorious billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Politico published a version of the same story, and stated that the name of the judge had been revealed by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb.

The New York Post framing was catnip for the QAnon extended universe, and spoke to the Trump lawyer’s efforts to discredit the process of issuing the search warrant.

Other information that would be on the warrant and accompanying materials could refute some of Trump’s claims.

Trump and his attorneys, for example, have suggested that there was no government property at Mar-a-Lago. They’ve gone so far as to suggest that the FBI “planted” materials in the Florida mansion and club, only for federal agents to have something to seize.

Trump’s attorneys have peppered claims of “planting” with other bizarre insinuations. Alina Habba, a Trump attorney representing the former President against New York Attorney General Letitia James, theorized to Fox News this week that the FBI’s actions may have been justified had Trump taken information about “Jimmy Hoffa” or “aliens,” for example.

But the former President and his attorneys now have an itemized list of everything that the government seized. If the feds really have planted evidence — or documents relating to the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa or appearance of aliens — then Trump has all the proof he needs to show what really happened.

Latest Muckraker

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for cf2k cf2k says:

    If his lawyers are impugning the process by outright saying that FBI planted evidence, can they be disbarred/criminally charged?

  2. Avatar for zandru zandru says:

    So the former guy is, once again, basically taking the Fifth? Not detailing or releasing the itemized list of “NOT GOVERNMENT PROPERTY!! NOT!!!*” that the FBI took? Nor the warrant?

    Sounds like he’s got something to hide. Ya think?

  3. Avatar for dmcg dmcg says:

    You would think that, by now, his go-to of throwing his hamburder at the wall to confuse nitwits should stop working. But his minions sure do seem to love the classics.

  4. “There was nothing here, and if there was something here, they planted it.” Sounds to me like a guy in trouble. And then, “Yes, it’s true that I know exactly what they were looking for, and also exactly what they took, but I’m not going to tell you.” Actually he didn’t say the second part, but we all know it’s true. Sounds like a guy in very major trouble.

Continue the discussion at

234 more replies


Avatar for lestatdelc Avatar for runfastandwin Avatar for mondfledermaus Avatar for jep07 Avatar for teenlaqueefa Avatar for tacoma Avatar for ralph_vonholst Avatar for califdemdreamer Avatar for fiftygigs Avatar for darrtown Avatar for rickjones Avatar for not_so_fluffy Avatar for read2much Avatar for sydneyp22 Avatar for timorwig Avatar for bcgister Avatar for occamscoin Avatar for txlawyer Avatar for captainfantastic Avatar for trustywoods Avatar for m_00_m Avatar for dicktater Avatar for hardyweinberg Avatar for dogselfie

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: