And why isn’t Trump in jail?
On Monday at about 10 a.m. EDT, two dozen FBI agents and technicians showed up at Donald Trump’s Florida home to execute a search warrant to obtain any government-owned documents that might be in the possession of Trump but are required to be delivered to the Archives under the provisions of the 1978 Presidential Records Act. (In response to the Hillary Clinton email scandal, Trump himself signed a law in 2018 that made it a felony to remove and retain classified documents.)
The act establishes that presidential records are the property of the U.S. government and not a president’s private property. Put in place after Watergate to avoid the abuses of the Nixon administration, the law imposes strict penalties for failure to comply. “Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined” $2,000, up to three years in prison or “shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”
The act, and concerns about the illegal possession of classified “national defense information” are the basis for the search warrant, according to the two sources. The raid had nothing to do with the January 6 investigation or any other alleged wrongdoing by the former president.