INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The FBI would’ve had to meet a higher than usual standard to get a search warrant approved to raid former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to a retired FBI agent.
“You look at it, your peers look at it, your boss looks at it, his boss looks at it, and then it goes over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and then the AUSA (assistant U.S. attorney) looks at it, and their boss looks at it, and sometimes main justice (at the Department of Justice) gets involved,” said Doug Kouns, a retired FBI agent and co-founder of Veracity IIR, a private investigator firm in Carmel.
“In this case, the attorney general himself approved the search warrant,” Kouns added.
The former FBI agent told I-Team 8 that the agency would’ve been “absolutely sure” they were going to find what they were looking for at Trump’s home because of the level of scrutiny that comes with a high-profile case. “You have to have very specific articulable information,” Kouns said.
Jody Madiera, a law professor at Indiana University, says the FBI would’ve had to present highly specific information for a judge to sign off on the search warrant.
Kouns and Madiera talked with I-Team 8 before late Friday afternoon when court documents showed that the Justice Department removed 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence while executing a search warrant this week for possible violations of the Espionage Act and other crimes.
“It’s not just sufficient to say ‘highly classified documents.’ They must have the name of the types of documents with specificity, including perhaps, who wrote the document, the date, those kinds of things,” Madiera said. “They must also state with specificity where the documents will be found, and again, that information has to be fresh.”
Madiera says the information given to a judge must be recent and relevant. She says she believes the FBI could be looking for a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
“It basically says that the president’s records actually belong to the National Archives,” Madiera said. “This concerns his ability to keep certain documents in his possession that might be highly classified.”
Kouns says he is disheartened with the level of public distrust and criticism of the FBI, however, he emphasized everyone in the organization is trained to put political influence aside.
“I think if you get evidence of a crime, no matter who it is, no matter what it is, it should be investigated,” Kouns said.