Almost a week after the FBI raided former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, many on Capitol Hill and around the country are wondering how the investigation into the former president talking classified documents to his residence started and what it means for the 2024 elections.
In case you missed it Sunday morning, FOX 5's "On the Hill" program hosted a former FBI special agent and a political expert from the Washington Post to talk about the raid.
The conversation started with Chuck McCullough, who was an FBI special agent for 10 years and was also the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community during the investigation into Hillary Clinton using a personal email server to house classified information during her time as Secretary of State.
McCullough spoke with FOX 5 about how the warrant for the raid at Mar-a-Lago was obtained, and what this means legally for former President Trump.
McCullough explained that, although there would be "nothing normal" about getting a warrant on a past president's residence, the process of issuing the warrant remains the same.
A case "agent is in charge of completing an affidavit to support the warrant. They have to go through the U.S. Attorney's Office," says McCullough. "You would take the application for the warrant with the affidavit to a neutral, detached magistrate, and it's signed by the magistrate, and you have your warrant. You execute the warrant., and there is a requirement for receipt. But, the receipt doesn't have to be that descriptive. As we see here, we have the receipt. We know boxes of classified materials were taken, but we have no idea what they were."
In response to the raid, former President Trump said in a statement that all the document seized were declassified.
FOX 5 asked McCullough about the classification and declassification process, to which he replied that documents are classified based on the gravity of harm they could cause if the information was released. He also says presidents have the authority to declassify documents.
In terms of what this could mean for former President Trump legally, McCullough believes it is too early to tell.
He says that just because the warrant listed Obstruction of Justice and Espionage Act statutes, it "doesn't mean that anybody is actually going to be indicted or charged with those."
FOX 5 then turned the conversation to the reaction to the raid and Trump's political future by bringing in Washington Post national political reporter Theo Meyer.
Meyer was asked about how leaders from both sides of the aisle are reacting to the news. He said democrats are concerned with what the investigation means, while republicans had a mixed reaction.
"Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to National Intelligence director Avril Haines late last week requesting a review of how much damage this had done to the national security of the country," Meyer said. "Republicans took a pretty aggressive tone right after this came out early last week, at least some republicans, you saw House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy saying to Merrick Garland to clear his schedule into next year. Other republicans, including, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were much more restrained."
In regard to what this means for President Trump ahead of the 2024, Meyer says Trump's campaign originally seemed excited about how the raid could turn out support for him.
"There was, if not jubilation, then at least some excitement on the part of his team that this could be good for 2024. You saw republicans who sometimes had not been sort of always eager to talk about President Trump, coming out in his defense. The thought was that sympathy among republican primary voters would accrue to him, could scare off potential challengers for the nomination in 2024," says Meyer.
But ultimately, Meyer believes that excitement could fade because "generally, presidential candidates do not want to have their homes raided by the FBI before a presidential run."
Make sure to tune into "On The Hill" every Sunday morning on FOX 5, starting at 8:30 a.m.