As The Point previously discussed, the warrant they bore allowed them to pretty much take everything, giving them the right to search most of Mar-a-Lago and to take anything potentially classified, anything near anything classified, and anything potentially covered under the presidential records act.
That’s the definition of a fishing expedition. Now a few of the fish had to be thrown back.
Passports belonging to Donald Trump have been returned to the former president after last week’s FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home, a Justice Department official told NBC News on Monday.
The FBI acknowledged it had had the passports the same day Trump said on his social media platform that FBI agents who conducted the search on Aug. 8 took them.
In a statement on Truth Social, Trump said agents “stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else.” He did not provide further details or specify whether the travel documents were personal or government passports. (Presidents receive diplomatic passports when they take office.)
A Justice Department official said Trump’s passports have been returned.
They didn’t need the passports obviously. But how much else did they take inappropriately?
The whole story that this was a clean search and the only things taken in the raid were legitimate has fallen apart. It’s insupportable. They clearly took everything and the kitchen sink.
But that’s routine for FBI raids. Look at the US Private Vaults case which is still dragging on.
FBI agents raided the U.S. Private Vaults facility in March 2021, and they rummaged through the contents of every box in the vault. The government attempted to justify the raid on the ground that U.S. Private Vaults—the business—was being charged with federal crimes, but none of the individual box holders were charged. And the warrant authorizing the search specifically said that the government was not authorized to conduct a criminal search of the individual security deposit boxes. Yet, nonetheless, the government opened every box, made a video record of the contents, and even opened sealed envelopes and held documents up to the camera.
The government cannot search your private property when it cannot even say what you might have done wrong. That’s what the Fourth Amendment means when it protects the right to be “secure” in your “persons, houses, papers, and effects.” So, in May, IJ sued on behalf of box holders Paul and Jennifer Snitko, Joseph Ruiz, and Tyler Gothier.
On the eve of the lawsuit, the government doubled down on its constitutional violations by moving to take the contents of hundreds of boxes through civil forfeiture.
People have had cash, jewelry, and memorabilia seized through civil forfeiture.
Despite the orders in the search warrant, the FBI is alleging that they have rights to the over $86 million in cash that was confiscated during the raid. There are millions more in assets customers of the vault company stored away including jewelry, watches, heirlooms, and other valued memorabilia.
Along with the cash, there are thousands of gold and silver bars, Rolex watches, and jewelry with valuable gems and stones that the FBI wants to confiscate. In one box, there are over $1.3 million in poker chips from the popular Las Vegas casino, Aria.
The contents of 175 boxes are in the process of being returned to their rightful owners, and the FBI has already given back the contents of at least 75 boxes. With the remaining boxes, it’s not clear who owns the contents yet.
The Feds returned some items, others were lost.
Next, the agent opens the letter taped to the top of the box, which contains all the necessary information to identify the box’s owner—identified in legal filings as “Linda R.,” an 80-year-old woman who had stored a significant portion of her retirement savings in Box 8309.
The agent keeps digging anyway, eventually tearing open a heavy-duty envelope that contains an unknown number of what appear to be gold coins.
As the ransacking of Box 8309 continues, the video appears to show at least one of Linda’s coins falling to the ground. According to an amended complaint filed last week, the search of the box “was conducted in such a shambolic and disorganized manner that it is no surprise that items were misplaced, lost, or worse.”
This is the reality of how Fed raids work even when there’s no political bias or other agenda. Once you unleash the government, it doesn’t stop where you expect it to.
That’s why only fools and totalitarians go down this path.