‘They Stole My Passports!’: Why Would the FBI Take Donald Trump’s Passports?
Late Monday afternoon, former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to share what he sees as a grevious attack
Late Monday afternoon, former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to share what he sees as a grevious attack from the FBI.
Trump wrote, "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!"
But is it true? Did the FBI take Trump's passports and if so – why? Here's the breakdown.
The FBI Seized Donald Trump’s Passports as Part of the Mar-a-Lago Raid
The short answer is: yes, the FBI seized three of Trump's passports during the raid on Mar-a-Lago last week.
Speculation was immediately rife among political intriguers that they were trying to prevent the former President from fleeing the country.
However, the real explanation was far more mundane than that. During a search and seizure by the FBI or any law enforcement agency, it's typical practice to take all items that are within the scope of the search warrant.
They bring them to a secure location and sort through them. During the course of the sorting, it's not uncommon to uncover items which are not relevant to the course of the investigation, and those items are returned (as long as they aren't contraband).
In the case of Trump's passports, the FBI seized three – two expired, and one current diplomatic passport – and then returned them apparently before Trump even realized they were gone. Trump's post to Truth came after the FBI reached out to his legal team to signify that they were returning the documents.
CBS News reports what happened yesterday afternoon, after Trump posted to Truth; "Several hours later, Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, shared on Twitter an email the former president's lawyers received from Jay Bratt, a top Justice Department official, alerting them that the passports had been taken and would be returned.
'We have learned that the filter agents seized three passports belonging to President Trump, two expired and one being his active diplomatic passport. We are returning them, and they will be ready for pickup at WFO at 2 pm today,' Bratt wrote, referring to the bureau's Washington field office.
The email was sent to Trump's lawyers at 12:49 p.m. ET Monday, before the former president's accusation that the FBI stole his passports. The law enforcement source [who spoke with CBS] also confirmed the accuracy of the email from Bratt, who is chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section at the Justice Department."
Are Red Voters Energized by the Mar-a-Lago Raids?
It's clear that for better or for worse, Trump is seizing on every moment of the investigation to whip his voters into a froth of rage.
There are certainly echoes of what happened in the lead-up to January 6, but the timbre is different. This time it's not, "Look what they stole from you," it's, "Look what they stole from me," and Trump's most devoted supporters are just as enraged on their leader's behalf as they were on their own ahead of January 6.
But is it translating to gains in the voting booth? That depends on who you ask.
Trump supporters are more ardent than ever. Across the internet, white nationalist groups are in a frenzy – with more violent rhetoric and calls to action than in any time before except the January 6 lead-up. And die-hard Trump supporters are "mad as hell" as their signs and social media posts promise.
But voters who tend to walk the line, those who voted for Trump because he was interesting or because he was Republican but not because they like him – they have moved firmly away from his camp in the past few months. Between the January 6 investigation and the information being revealed during the course of the Department of Justice's investigation into these classified documents, many voters are finding Trump to carry too much baggage and even if they like him, they may worry that he can't win a general election.
How all of the cards will land before 2024 remains to be seen, but for now it seems like those who planned to vote are more determined than ever, and those who didn't plan to vote probably still won't. Trump is attempting to ride the momentum of the Mar-a-Lago raid, but it may turn out to be a ride to nowhere if criminal indictments follow.