Former president Donald Trump and his allies are preemptively warning that any incriminating evidence found at his Florida estate was planted there by the FBI.
Trump complained on his ersatz social media platform Wednesday that his lawyers were not allowed to observe the federal agents who searched the property on Monday.
“Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting,’” Trump wrote. “Why did they STRONGLY insist on having nobody watching them, everybody out?”
The FBI searched Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, reportedly as part of an investigation into Trump’s well-documented refusal to turn over presidential records at the end of his term. The Justice Department has not divulged any details about the investigation.
The National Archives and Records Administration has said Trump belatedly delivered 15 boxes of documents this year. Because the boxes contained classified material that the president had removed from the White House, the agency said it notified the Department of Justice.
Instead of waiting for any information about the investigation, Republicans in Congress have rushed to Trump’s defense, saying they will retaliate against the Justice Department and suggesting that it’s fundamentally improper to investigate whether the former president broke the law. Now Trump’s allies are also saying that if a crime was committed, Trump didn’t do it.
Right-wing influencers such as Newt Gingrich, Charlie Kirk, Alex Jones and Steve Bannon on Tuesday came up with the theory that the FBI raided Trump’s property to plant evidence. Fox News host Jesse Waters amplified the baseless claim on his show that evening.
“This is how a conspiracy-minded talking point is constructed in real time,” Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz wrote in a blog post chronicling the takeoff. “It is reminiscent of how right-wing media figures, in the immediate aftermath of the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, attributed the widespread violence to antifa infiltrators.”
On Wednesday morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) lamented that people “distrust so much the government” that he had no choice but to repeat Trump’s insinuation that the FBI was out to get him.
“Do I know that the boxes of material that they took from Mar-a-Lago, that they won’t put things in those boxes to entrap him?” Paul said on Fox News. “How do we know? Their lawyers weren’t allowed to see the boxes go.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.