So, Is That Why the FBI Ransacked Mar-a-Lago?

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AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwelli

You know the story behind why the FBI raided the home of former President Donald Trump in August of 2022. It arguably was an event that helped Trump galvanize the GOP base to his side ahead of his anticipated 2024 announcement. The ransacking culminated a lengthy back-and-forth between the National Archives and Records Administration and Trump’s lawyers—federal officials still felt sensitive materials resided on location. It set off the debate about classified materials and the protocols for taking them, a Democratic Party attack line that blew up in their faces when Biden got caught for doing the same thing. The only difference is that Trump got indicted. But there was one file that the FBI might have thought was at Mar-a-Lago. It’s not confirmed, but sources told Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi, and Alex Gutentag that the federal raid on Trump’s house might have been on a hunch that the Russian collusion binder was on the premises.  

Created by House investigators in 2019-2020, the Russian collusion binder included the many ways in which the intelligence community allegedly violated the law in surveilling Trump associates during the events of Russiagate. We know this was a partisan political attack—the latest nugget is that the CIA got the foreign intelligence services of the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—The Five Eyes—involved in the collusion plot, which started well before the FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence probe which was seen as the start of this circus. This binder went missing during the Trump presidency, and sources told Taibbi, Shellenberger, and Gutentag, that they felt the FBI’s raid on Trump’s home was an attempt to find that file. Others were skeptical, however (via Public):

Multiple sources believe that Trump’s possession of the binder, or one of multiple binders, led the FBI to raid his home in Mar-a-Lago, which led to the prosecution of Trump by Justice Department special prosecutor Jack Smith
A source close to the House Intelligence investigation said, “We think a lot of that product in Mar-a-Lago is” what investigators “went through.” The FBI was “worried that there was a copy [of the binder] there,” said the person.
A source close to Trump said, “I think [retrieving the binder] was part of [FBI’s] motivation. It was Russiagate. It was years of FISA [surveillance warrant] abuse. It was doing a 702 [FISA] query to surveil 300,000 Americans. It was using taxpayer dollars to fund the Steele memo and get Justice Department lawyers when we fired Christopher Steele. It was the mountain of corruption we uncovered.”
But another source with significant knowledge of the Russiagate investigation was skeptical. “I don’t think the raid at all had to do with Russia documents. It started as a bureaucratic tussle. Look at search warrant returns. That’s what they were looking for. There was nothing in there that does that. If you talk to the lawyers involved, they never said they were looking for Russia collusion documents.”
Trump himself has not said that the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago to obtain the binder of information. “It’s uncharacteristic of him to stay quiet about anything,” acknowledged a source close to the current 2024 Trump campaign.
At the same time, the source added, “It’s easy to guess that his lawyers told him, ‘This is an active court case’ and so ‘Don’t say anything about it.’ It could be as simple as that. That’s the obvious explanation.”
CNN mentioned last August’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in its piece last December, suggesting there may be a connection between the “missing binder” story and the FBI’s search of Trump’s property while noting no such materials were found.
[…] 
CNN reported that Trump’s binder contained a classified House Intelligence Committee report about the IC’s assessment of Russian election interference, according to CNN. 
“The binder contained raw intelligence the US and its NATO allies collected on Russians and Russian agents, including sources and methods that informed the US government’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Trump win the 2016 election, sources told CNN.” 
Sources close to the Trump campaign disagree with CNN’s article. “Trump didn’t lose it,” said a person close to the former president. “NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] gave it back to the Department of Justice… It’s CNN fake news that Trump lost the binder.”

What will drop later today is the evidence that then-CIA Director John Brennan handpicked the analysts used to draft that shoddy assessment using “cooked intelligence.” More pieces of this Russiagate plot are falling apart. Will people go to jail? Well, don’t bet on it yet. Let’s see what this crew unearths throughout the week. 

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