Five Facts on FBI Raids on Federal Officeholders
The Big Insight: Though the FBI has raided the homes and offices of several members of Congress in recent years, the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is unprecedented.
On August 8, the FBI raided former President Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in search of what the bureau claims were official documents illegally taken from the White House. The details of the search warrant have not yet been made public. Here is more background on FBI raids on federal officeholders.
1. The FBI raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was the first-ever FBI raid conducted against a former president.
While the FBI investigated Richard Nixon while he was in office — and Bill Clinton both during and after his time as president — the August 8 raid on Trump’s Florida estate was unprecedented.
2. The FBI raided the home of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) in 2005 as part of a grand jury probe of Cunningham’s ties to a defense contractor.
Cunningham was investigated over a real estate transaction with defense contractor Mitchell Wade that came months before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on which Cunningham served awarded millions in contracts to Wade’s company. Cunningham pleaded guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, and wire fraud, and spent seven years in prison. He was released in 2013 and pardoned by former President Trump nine days before he left office.
3. The 2006 raid on the office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.
The FBI first raided Jefferson’s home in August 2005 as part of a bribery probe, finding $90,000 in cash stashed in Jefferson’s freezer. In May 2006, the FBI raided Jefferson’s Washington office, leading then-Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to issue a joint statement condemning the action but calling for Jefferson to cooperate more fully with the probe. In August 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the raid was unconstitutional. In 2009, Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison on multiple counts of bribery, but was released after five and a half years.
4. The home of Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) was raided in 2007 in an investigation of ties between Doolittle, his wife, and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The FBI raided the Virginia home to gather documents from Julie Doolittle's fundraising firm, whose chief clients were her husband and Abramoff. Julie Doolittle also worked directly for Abramoff as an event planner. Rep. Doolittle denied any wrongdoing, but did not seek reelection. In 2010, the Justice Department closed its investigation without charging either of the Doolittles. Abramoff spent nearly six years in prison and was released in 2010.
5. The home and campaign office of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) were raided earlier this year, but Cuellar is reportedly not a target of the investigation.
Cuellar’s Texas home and campaign office were raided less than two weeks before voters went to the polls in a competitive primary that Cuellar nonetheless won by a narrow margin. Cuellar cooperated with the probe, which is related to links between the government of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen. Cuellar’s attorney said in April that the Justice Department had told him that Cuellar “is not a target of the investigation.”