An FBI official has raised concerns about the agency’s conduct during its raid last August on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Trump was arraigned Tuesday after being indicted on multiple charges that he mishandled classified information. Trump has said he is innocent of any misconduct.
The FBI official’s concerns were detailed in a June 9 letter from GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, to Attorney General Merrick Garland. In the letter, Jordan gave Garland a deadline of Friday to produce “[a]ll documents and communications referring or relating to meetings between FBI and Justice Department officials prior to the execution of the search warrant on President Trump’s private residence” and “[a]ll documents and communications referring or relating to the execution of a search warrant on President Trump’s private residence.”
The letter said that on June 7, during a transcribed interview, Steven D’Antuono, the former Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, “expressed strong concerns with the Department’s pursuit of the raid and noted several unusual features in the Department’s handling of the case.”
According to the letter, D’Antuono indicated that it was a breach of standard procedure to have the Washington field office conduct the search and not the Miami field office.
The letter said D’Antuono said the FBI “learned a lot of stuff from [the] Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, which was the discredited investigation into allegations of links between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
The letter said D’Antuono said one principle was that “the [FBI] Headquarters does not work the investigation, it is supposed to be the field offices working the investigations,” the letter said, adding that his “concern is that [the] DOJ was not following the same principles.”
The letter went on to note that the report of Special Counsel John Durham indicated the FBI itself said investigations should be run from the field and not Washington.
Another concern cited was the lack of a U.S. attorney assigned to the raid. The letter said D’Antuono “raised this concern a lot” with Justice Department officials but “never got a good answer.”
The letter said D’Antuono was concerned that no attempt was made for a consensual search of the property.
“D’Antuono indicated a belief that either you or Director Christopher Wray made the decision to seek a search warrant, despite opposition from the line agents working this case,” the letter to Garland said.
Further, the letter said, D’Antuono was troubled because the FBI did not wait for an attorney for Trump to be present before it began the search.
“Mr. D’Antuono believed that the FBI should have worked with the attorney to get consent to search the residence prior to seeking a warrant for the search. Mr. D’Antuono believes that there was a good likelihood that [they] could have gotten consent,” the letter said.
“The indictment creates, at the minimum, a serious appearance of a double standard and a miscarriage of justice,” Jordan wrote in the letter.