What was the FBI looking for at Mar-a-Lago?

·5 min read

Federal agents searched former President Donald Trump's Florida estate, a move that sent shockwaves through the country. How did the search unfold? What did they find? And what's next? We're taking a look at what happened at Mar-a-Lago.

👋 Hey! Laura Davis here. It's Tuesday – more like "news" day! Let's get to it.

But first, a 3-ton sculpture of a Hindu god is among 30 looted artifacts the United States will return to Cambodia. See more of them here.

The Short List is a snappy USA TODAY news roundup. Subscribe to the newsletter here or text messages here.

🌤 What's the weather up to in your neck of the woods? Check your forecast here.

What happened behind the walls of Mar-a-Lago?

Federal agents searched former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home Monday in Palm Beach, Florida, as part of an investigation into allegations he removed classified documents from the White House when he left office, two people familiar with the search said. Trump claimed the FBI agents "even broke into my safe.” Live updates from the Mar-a-Lago search.

Here's what we know:

  • The search: Monday evening, Trump confirmed the search in a statement in which he raged at a "raid" that amounted to "the weaponization of the Justice System" and an "attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don't want me to run for president in 2024."

  • The investigation: Trump is under investigation by the Justice Department for removing presidential records from the White House and storing them at Mar-a-Lago for up to a year, a potentially serious violation of the law if the records were classified.

  • DOJ approval of search: Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told CNN on Monday night that the search warrant would have been “planned out and reevaluated and legally examined” at the highest levels of the FBI and Justice Department. "I can't overemphasize how big of a deal this would have been within the Department of Justice and the FBI,” McCabe said.

👉 Trump records investigation timeline: From early red flags to the search at Mar-a-Lago.

Secret Service agents stand at the gate of Mar-a-Lago after the FBI issued warrants Aug. 8.
Secret Service agents stand at the gate of Mar-a-Lago after the FBI issued warrants Aug. 8.

Search draws strong reactions, supporters

Many Republicans are rallying around Trump after the search – some more aggressively than others.

What they're saying:

  • House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans vowed to investigate the Department of Justice if their party retakes Congress in November.

  • Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, urged the Justice Department to explain the search, so it would not become political fodder for Republicans.

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, "I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump."

  • Furious Trump loyalists descended on Mar-a-Lago to protest. More than 50 protesters, many in patriotic garb, chanted, paraded in cars and waved flags in front of the estate.

📸 Photos: Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate searched by FBI.

Kathy Luksch, 56, and others gather to support Donald Trump near Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 8.
Kathy Luksch, 56, and others gather to support Donald Trump near Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Aug. 8.

Perspectives from the opinion page

The Short List is free, but several stories we link to are subscriber-only. Consider supporting our journalism and become a USA TODAY digital subscriber today.

What does it mean for Trump's political future?

The FBI search raises legal questions about Trump's future. A section of federal code says anyone determined to have improperly removed government documents would be disqualified from holding federal office. In 2015, some Republicans wondered whether the law could be used to disqualify Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton from serving as president over her use of a private email server for official government business. Could Trump be barred from pursuing a second term? As they were in 2015, experts are dubious. Here's what you need to know.

A gathering storm of investigations

Of the multiple criminal investigations surrounding Trump, which one was the FBI pursuing? The document probe is one of a handful of federal and state inquiries that press on the former president, his allies and his namesake organization – including the effort to overturn the 2020 election and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. A breakdown of investigations.

More to know:

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally  Aug. 5 in Waukesha, Wis. The FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate marked an unprecedented escalation of the law enforcement scrutiny of the former president, but the Florida operation is just one investigation related to Trump and his time in office.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Aug. 5 in Waukesha, Wis. The FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate marked an unprecedented escalation of the law enforcement scrutiny of the former president, but the Florida operation is just one investigation related to Trump and his time in office.

In other news:

Suspect detained in killings of Muslim men: Police in Albuquerque said they detained a “primary suspect” in the killings of four Muslim men, deaths that raised fears in the community and led to increased security at mosques and schools. Keep reading.

Voters in four states cast ballots: Pivotal gubernatorial and Senate races in Wisconsin highlight a primary slate Tuesday that includes races in Vermont, Minnesota and Connecticut. Here's what to know about the races. 

👉 We're covering the primaries: Follow along with the latest updates here.

Serena Williams counts down to retirement: The 40-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam champion is set to retire from tennis in the coming weeks. Williams made the announcement in Vogue's September edition, saying, "It's the hardest thing that I could ever imagine." Keep reading.

Serena Williams attends the U.S. Open in 2019.
Serena Williams attends the U.S. Open in 2019.

More headlines:

A break from the news

  • 🤔 Can you rollerblade yourself into shape? Here’s what you should know.

  • 📚 Take a look inside a book: 12 best gifts for the bookworm in your life.

  • 🙃 Our reporter drank Sonic's Pickle Juice Slush so you didn't have to. Here's how it went.

  • 🥣 Need a palate cleanser? Feed your inner child! Count Chocula, Franken Berry among four classic General Mills cereals back on shelves.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Subscribe to the newsletter here or text messages here.

Laura L. Davis is an Audience Editor at USA TODAY. Send her an email at laura@usatoday.com or follow along with her adventures – and misadventures – on Twitter. Support quality journalism like this? Subscribe to USA TODAY here.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago, Serena Williams, New Mexico Muslim killings. It's Tuesday's news.