Donald Trump has warned that “terrible things are going to happen” as he faces the blame for violence and threats directed at FBI agents.
“The country is in a very dangerous position. There is tremendous anger, like I’ve never seen before, over all of the scams, and this new one, years of scams and witch hunts, and now this,” Mr Trump told Fox News Digital.
The former president told the outlet that he “will do whatever” he can “to help the country”, adding that the “temperature has to be brought down”.
Trump supporters and his GOP allies reacted with outrage following the search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI last week.
Mr Trump said that Americans are “not going to stand for another scam” as the unsealed search warrant revealed that he’s being investigated for obstruction of justice and possible violations of the Espionage Act, as well as other offences.
The FBI recovered 11 sets of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Mr Trump’s Florida residence and private club.
Some of the documents were marked as top secret, with some of the documents only meant to be viewed in a secure government facility. Mr Trump has claimed that the documents had been declassified.
Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Mr Trump said that his aides had contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to inquire if the former commander-in-chief could be of any help as supporters of the former president shared their fury at the search.
Federal agents have faced threats of violence following the raid. A 42-year-old man was killed during a standoff with law enforcement after he attacked agents at the FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In a joint bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI said that “on 11 August 2022, Ricky Shiffer, Jr, wearing a technical vest and armed with an AR-style rifle and a nail gun, attempted to forcibly enter the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office. When uniformed officers responded to Shiffer’s attempt to break a glass barrier, he fled the scene”.
“A pursuit ensued, and Shiffer entered a standoff with FBI and law enforcement officers after firing multiple shots at responding officers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP). After a prolonged standoff, OSHP, with FBI SWAT support, attempted to arrest Shiffer, resulting in his death,” the bulletin said.
“If there is anything we can do to help, I, and my people, would certainly be willing to do that,” Mr Trump told Fox News.
“There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country, at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times,” he added.
In a statement, the FBI said that it’s “always concerned about violence and threats of violence to law enforcement, including the men and women of the FBI. We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous. As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately”.
Mr Trump said he hasn’t heard back from DOJ concerning his offer to help cool things down. He added that there had been “years of fake witch hunts and phony Russia, Russia, Russia schemes and scams”.
“Nothing happens to those people who perpetuate that, nothing happens with them,” he said. “And then they break into a president’s house, a sneak attack where it was totally, no one ever thought a thing like this would happen.”
He claimed that the FBI “break in and take whatever they want to take” and that federal agents told his aides at Mar-a-Lago to “turn off the camera” and that “no one can go through the rooms”.
The Independent previously reported that Mr Trump and his family watched the raid on security cameras from New York.
“They could take anything they want, and put anything they want in,” he claimed. “My people were asked to stand outside.”
The agents “could have planted anything they wanted”, Mr Trump said.
“People are so angry at what is taking place,” he said, adding that “the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen”.
DHS and the FBI warned of increased threat levels in their bulletin to law enforcement agents issued after the raid on Mar-a-Lago.
“The FBI and DHS have observed an increase in threats to federal law enforcement and, to a lesser extent, other law enforcement and government officials following the FBI’s recent execution of a search warrant in Palm Beach, Florida,” the bulletin states. “These threats are occurring primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards. The FBI and DHS would like to ensure that law enforcement, court, and government personnel are aware of the range of threats and criminal and violent incidents.”
“The FBI and DHS have observed an increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities, including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters and issuing general calls for ‘civil war’ and ‘armed rebellion’,” the agencies said.
The memo states that the threats are “specific in identifying proposed targets, tactics, or weaponry”.
“Since 8 August 2022, the FBI and DHS have identified multiple articulated threats and calls for the targeted killing of judicial, law enforcement, and government officials associated with the Palm Beach search, including the federal judge who approved the Palm Beach search warrant,” the agencies said. “The FBI and DHS have also observed the personal identifying information of possible targets of violence, such as home addresses and identification of family members, disseminated online as additional targets.”
The bulletin states that “as a result of recent activities, we assess that potential targets of [domestic violent extremism] violence moving forward could include law enforcement, judicial officials, individuals implicated in conspiracy theories and perceived ideological opponents who challenge their worldview”.
“Drivers that could escalate the threat environment include possible future law enforcement or legal actions against individuals associated with the Palm Beach search, statements by public officials which incite violence, high profile successful [domestic violent extremism] attacks that inspire copycats, or the emergence of additional conspiracy theories,” the agencies added. “The threats we have observed, to date, underscore that [domestic violent extremists] may view the 2022 midterm election as an additional flashpoint around which to escalate threats against perceived ideological opponents, including federal law enforcement personnel.”
The Mar-a-Lago warrant was signed by a US magistrate judge on 5 August. The FBI removed around 20 boxes of materials from the private club, according to several media reports. At least one set of documents was marked “various classified/TS/SCI documents”. TS stands for top secret and SCI for sensitive compartmented information, which may only be stored and viewed in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).
Top secret documents may include information that could put the lives of intelligence offices at risk and which could complicate the relationships between the US and other countries, Fox News noted. The classification also encompasses national security information regarding the president’s day-to-day work.
The FBI property receipt revealed that federal agents recovered four sets of documents considered top secret, three sets of secret records, and three sets of documents marked confidential.
The receipt also listed a “leatherbound box of documents”, photos, handwritten documents, and other records.
The search was executed as a response to the possible violation of several federal laws, including those outlawing the gathering, transmitting or losing defence information, concealment, removal or mutilation, as well as the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.
Mr Trump’s former National Security Adviser from 2018 until 2019, John Bolton, told The New York Times that the former president’s attempts to defend himself after the FBI search revealed his “desperation”.
“When somebody begins to concoct lies like this, it shows a real level of desperation,” Mr Bolton said.
Mr Trump has claimed that he declassified the documents retrieved by federal agents using his presidential powers while his allies have claimed that he had a standing order to declassify records removed from the Oval Office.
“I was never briefed on any such order, procedure, policy when I came in,” Mr Bolton told the paper.
“If he were to say something like that, you would have to memorialise that, so that people would know it existed,” he added.
Mr Bolton told The Times that secure areas to view classified documents were put in place at Mr Trump’s residences in Florida and Bedminster, New Jersey, meaning that documents could stay confidential.
On Monday afternoon, Mr Trump accused the FBI of taking three of his passports during last week’s Mar-a-Lago search.
“Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else,” he wrote on his social media platform Truth Social. “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”