A timeline of Trump’s false and misleading statements about the Mar-a-Lago search

Last week, after former President Donald Trump’s Florida home was searched by federal agents, he posted dozens of messages on Truth Social, his social media platform, about Democrats, the FBI and other enemies.

The statements reflect a strategy Mr. Trump has long used to deal with controversy, alternating between denying any wrongdoing and deflecting attention. Some of the messages also reflect his propensity for making false and misleading statements.

Here are some of the false and unsubstantiated statements he made after the FBI search.

Monday and Tuesday, August 8 and 9

In the days following the crackdown, Mr. Trump’s allies focused attention about the FBI search of his home at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. Those warrants typically remain sealed unless charges are filed, but many of his supporters offered that the FBI was not releasing it because the search was politically motivated.

Mr. Trump could release the order at any time. Instead, he repeatedly linked the White House to the search and suggested that President Biden or other Democrats knew about it.

“Biden knew all about it,” he wrote on August 9. He did not provide any evidence.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Biden was not given Advance notice of search.

Wednesday, August 10

Mr. Trump said his lawyers and others at Mar-a-Lago were not allowed to watch the search, saying the lack of oversight may have allowed the FBI to obtain evidence.

He wrote on Truth Social that the agents didn’t want witnesses to “see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully, not ‘planting’.”

But Mr. Trump’s lawyer said during a television interview that the former president watched the search from New York on video provided by security cameras inside Mar-a-Lago.

Mr Trump also took aim at former President Barack Obama, falsely claiming his predecessor took more than 30 million documents to Chicago after he left the White House. In a later post, Mr. Trump increased that figure to 33 million documents.

The National Archives and Records Administration, or NARA, responded in a statement, saying that “NARA has moved approximately 30 million pages of non-classified records to a NARA facility in the Chicago area, where they are held exclusively by NARA.”

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Thursday, August 11

After reports showed the FBI was seeking documents related to “special access programs,” a term reserved for extremely sensitive operations and closely guarded technology, Mr. Trump said the FBI could request the documents without a raid.

He posted on Truth Social that the FBI had already asked him to put an extra padlock on the place where the documents were kept.

“My attorneys and representatives have been fully cooperative and a very good relationship has been established,” he wrote on Aug. 11. “The government could have whatever it wanted if we had it.”

Mr. Trump received a subpoena this spring seeking additional documents, and federal officials met with Mr. Trump and his lawyer, Evan Corcoran, at Mar-a-Lago. After the visit, at least one of Trump’s lawyers signed a written statement saying that all materials marked classified and stored in boxes at Mar-a-Lago had been returned.

But an inventory of material taken from Mr Trump’s home during a search last week showed agents seized 11 sets of confidential or classified documents.

Friday, August 12

After the warrant was issued by a Florida court, an accompanying log showed 11 sets of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. The warrant also indicated that the investigation involved violations of the Espionage Act.

Mr Trump then said the documents seized by the FBI were legitimate.

“Number one, it’s all classified,” he wrote.

Although presidents have broad powers to declassify information while in office, Espionage Act violations still apply to classified documents.

Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14

In a series of posts on Truth Social, Mr Trump doubled down on his criticism of the FBI, saying the agency has a “long and unrelenting history of corruption”. He listed discredited claims of election interference in the 2016 elections.

Mr. Trump then returned to his earlier, unsubstantiated claims that the documents could have been planted by the FBI.

“Wasn’t there any way to know if what they took was legal or if there was a ‘plant’?” he wrote. “It was the FBI after all!”

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