WaPo digs into Mar-a-Lago raid, reports ‘tense showdown’ between FBI, prosecutors

In what some may construe as an FBI rehabilitation effort, The Washington Post is now reporting that bureau agents were at odds with Justice Department prosecutors when it came to investigating former President Donald Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Citing “four people familiar with the discussions,” the newspaper said there was a “tense showdown near the end of July last year” after months of disagreements on how best to try to recover classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

“Prosecutors argued that new evidence suggested Trump was knowingly concealing secret documents at his Palm Beach, Fla., home and urged the FBI to conduct a surprise raid at the property,” the Post reported. “But two senior FBI officials who would be in charge of leading the search resisted the plan as too combative and proposed instead to seek Trump’s permission to search his property.”

As seen in the unprecedented, even historic raid on a former president’s private residence, DOJ prosecutors ultimately prevailed.

The sources said that beginning in May of last year, FBI agents in the Washington field office had sought to slow the probe, urging caution given its extraordinary sensitivity.

“Some of those field agents wanted to shutter the criminal investigation altogether in early June, after Trump’s legal team asserted a diligent search had been conducted and all classified records had been turned over,” the article said, citing people with knowledge of the discussions.

More from the Post:

The disagreements stemmed in large part from worries among officials that whatever steps they took in investigating a former president would face intense scrutiny and second-guessing by people inside and outside the government. However, the agents, who typically perform the bulk of the investigative work in cases, and the prosecutors, who guide agents’ work and decide on criminal charges, ultimately focused on very different pitfalls, according to people familiar with their discussions.

On one side, federal prosecutors in the department’s national security division advocated aggressive ways to secure some of the country’s most closely guarded secrets, which they feared Trump was intentionally hiding at Mar-a-Lago; on the other, FBI agents in the Washington field office urged more caution with such a high-profile matter, recommending they take a cooperative rather than confrontational approach.


DOJ prosecutors were reportedly “eager for the FBI to scour the premises of Mar-a-Lago” by mid-May, arguing there was probable cause and a high likelihood of finding classified records and evidence of obstruction.

“But the prosecutors learned FBI agents were still loath to conduct a surprise search. They also heard from top FBI officials that some agents were simply afraid: They worried taking aggressive steps investigating Trump could blemish or even end their careers, according to some people with knowledge of the discussions,” the Post further reported. “One official dubbed it ‘the hangover of Crossfire Hurricane,’ a reference to the FBI investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible connections to the Trump campaign, the people said.”

This being perhaps the best indication that fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and his bureau lover Lisa Page, both avid Trump haters, may have left an indelible stamp on the agency after all.


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