Conservatives have cried that the FBI’s raid of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday was excessive, and that federal authorities could have employed other, less aggressive tactics to get ahold of whatever it was they were looking for. The New York Times reported on Thursday that they did just that, issuing the former president a subpoena this spring that sought documents investigators were concerned Trump failed to turn over earlier this year.
The existence of the subpoena was first disclosed by John Solomon, a journalist the Times says Trump has designated as one of his representatives to the National Archives. The Archives has been working with the Justice Department to retrieve the classified material the former president allegedly took from the White House. It recovered 15 boxes of material earlier this year, but authorities were concerned more remained. The Times notes that the subpoena, the specifics of which are unknown, “factored in” to an early-June visit that Justice Department counterintelligence chief Jay Bratt and other federal authorities paid to Mar-a-Lago. The group looked at a basement where Trump had stored the material, and later sent a note asking that a stronger lock be placed on a storage room door, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal reported Wednesday night that an informant later tipped off the FBI that more classified records did indeed remain at Mar-a-Lago. Two people familiar with the documents the FBI sought to recover by executing the search warrant on Monday told the Times that the material pertained to national security and was so sensitive that authorities believed they had no choice but to conduct the raid.
The attention from federal authorities appears to be rankling Trump. Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday that the former president has been paranoid about law enforcement closing in on him, wondering if his phones are tapped and even asking if someone close to him may be “wearing a wire.”