Donald Trump has accused the FBI of seizing his passports during a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Describing it as an “assault on a political opponent”, the former US president claimed agents “stole” three of his passports.
The FBI searched his home last week after officials discovered boxes containing classified information were taken to his estate after his presidency came to an end.
They were retrieved in January by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which then asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Mr Trump’s handling of White House records violated federal law.
In a post on Truth Social – his own social media platform – Mr Trump told his followers: “Wow. In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else.
“This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our country. Third world.”
A Department of Justice official told NBC News that Mr Trump’s passports were not in the possession of the FBI and had in fact been returned to the former president.
Mr Trump’s followers have largely been galvanised by the search, rallying around him and criticising the move as political due to it taking place at a time when many expect him to announce plans to stand for another presidential term.
‘The temperature has to be brought down’
Speaking to Fox News Digital, Mr Trump warned that “terrible things are going to happen” if frustrations are not abated.
“The country is in a very dangerous position. There is tremendous anger like I’ve never seen before, over all of the scams, and this new one – years of scams and witch hunts, and now this,” Mr Trump said.
“People are so angry at what is taking place,” he added. “Whatever we can do to help – because the temperature has to be brought down in the country.”
He went on to suggest that the FBI “could have planted anything they wanted” during the search.
“There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country – at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times,” he said.
Key affidavit could be unsealed
During the raid, officers recovered more than 20 boxes of items, some of which were labelled as top secret.
A search warrant showed that agents retrieved a set of papers that were marked not only as top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information”, a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets.
A binder of photos, a handwritten note and information about the “President of France” were also seized.
The warrant also revealed Mr Trump is being investigated under the Espionage Act.
Members of the US media have asked the Department of Justice to unseal the affidavit used by prosecutors to obtain a federal judge’s approval to search Mr Trump’s Florida home.
On Monday, the department said it has opposed the requests as the investigation “implicates highly classified material” and the document contains sensitive information about witnesses.
The document would have revealed the evidence that prosecutors showed to demonstrate they had probable cause to believe crimes were committed.