It's a little bombshell that shakes up the 2024 presidential campaign before it has even started.

Unprecedented in modern American history, the search of Donald Trump's residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, on Monday, was denounced by the person concerned as "persecution".

According to US media, FBI agents were looking for confidential documents that the former president allegedly took with him when he left the White House.

But even if legal troubles are not excluded, Donald Trump seems more determined than ever to declare himself a candidate.

What do we know about the search?

About 30 FBI agents knocked on Donald Trump's house on Monday morning.

They searched his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, for several hours, including breaking into a safe.

According to the

Wall Street Journal

, about ten boxes of documents were seized.

The former president was in New Jersey, where he stays during the summer.

The Secret Service, which ensures his protection and that of his residence, had been notified.

What was the FBI looking for?

The FBI and the Department of Justice, on which the federal office reports, do not comment.

According to US media, the case appears to be linked to White House documents that Donald Trump took with him to Florida.

In January, he was forced to hand over 15 boxes to the National Archives, which contained classified files.

According to CNN, FBI agents then came in early June, during a cordial visit.

They asked Donald Trump to better secure a room in which he stored other documents.

He had a lock installed.

Monday's search — instead of a subpoena for the documents — represents a major escalation in the proceedings.

According to the

New York Times

, it would not be related to the investigation into the violence of the Capitol or the 2020 election.

How did the FBI get its warrant?

The search was authorized by a Florida judge.

This means the magistrate was convinced there was a strong likelihood that the FBI would find evidence that Donald Trump, or those around him, broke the law.

Is it illegal for a president to take documents when leaving the White House?

A law on presidential documents stipulates that all official documents of a sitting president must be handed over to the National Archives upon his departure.

But this law does not really provide for sanctions.

On the other hand, American law strictly prohibits anyone from keeping classified documents and it has already been applied on several occasions, including imprisonment.

A president, however, has the authority to declassify anything he wants, provided he does so before the end of his term.

What is Donald Trump risking?

"Everything suggests that the search is the result of criminal proceedings involving a grand jury," said Bradley Moss, a Washington lawyer specializing in national security issues.

If they were just simple administrative documents not transmitted to the National Archives, a civil procedure would have sufficed, according to Moss.

But the established presence of confidential documents in those submitted in January makes the matter much more serious for Donald Trump.

Does he face charges?

There are too many unknowns at this point.

"There is in theory enough time by November 2024 to indict and prosecute Donald Trump if the government decides," said the lawyer.

With the prospect of tearing a little more a country already cut in two.

Could Donald Trump be declared ineligible?

There is debate among lawyers.

Lawyer Marc Elias, who fought Donald Trump's appeals during the 2020 presidential election, notes on Twitter that a statute of the American penal code provides for possible ineligibility but recognizes that the case of a president is covered by the Constitution .

And according to Bradley Moss, Congress could not declare Donald Trump ineligible based on a criminal conviction.

This is only possible after a conviction in impeachment proceedings or by invoking the 14th Amendment in the event of an insurrection.

"In theory, Donald Trump could be a candidate even if he was in prison," insists Moss.

Can Donald Trump capitalize on what he denounces as "persecution"?

A search of an ex-president, who seems about to declare himself a candidate, is unheard of.

Republicans are coming to his aid and vowing to investigate the Justice Department's actions if they regain a majority in the House in the midterm elections in November.

Even some Democrats, such as ex-governor Cuomo, or former candidate Andrew Yang, believe that the ministry must explain itself, under penalty of playing into Donald Trump's game, with the perception of an instrumentalization of the ministry of Justice for political ends.

One thing is certain, after the unprecedented FBI search yesterday, Donald Trump is closer than ever to announcing his candidacy, with a 4-minute B&W spot of a "nation in decline" before a promised upturn in color with him (clip 1/2)

— Philippe Berry (@ptiberry) August 9, 2022

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Donald Trump has already exploited the search with an email to raise funds on Tuesday morning.

And he posted a long, anxiety-provoking clip about "a country in decline", increasingly flirting with a candidacy.

He has every interest in moving quickly: it will be even easier for him to cry "persecution" once he is a candidate.

And if he wins in 2024, he would be protected from possible prosecution under the Justice Department's policy of not indicting a president while in office.


Donald Trump's residence raided by the FBI, the ex-president cries out for "persecution"

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