Videos and photos on Twitter showed supporters arriving at the resort and new home of the former president while tweets from his fans vowed that “thousands” were planning to show up.
Dozens of people were on scene before midnight Monday, though the mood could hardly be described as angry. Loudspeakers blared dance music as supporters arrived by car on the pitch-black scene where lights were hastily being set up.
Some supporters may have heard the ex-president address his situation in a tele-rally for Sarah Palin, which he attended despite the news.
"Another day in paradise. This was a strange day," a chuckling Mr Trump reportedly told his fans.
His supporters who arrived on-scene late on Monday were unlikely to hear directly from their leader, but that didn’t stop the crowd from growing as midnight approached.
Some of those at the protest told reporters that the investigation appeared political to them because the FBI had yet to take action against Hunter Biden, the son of president Joe Biden, for criminal activities that Trump supporters have long alleged he engaged in overseas.
The Justice Department has yet to comment publicly on the unprecedented raid of a former president’s residence. Former President Donald Trump is thought to be under a grand jury investigation headed by the agency in response to the January 6 attack on Congress; the probe recently took testimony from Marc Short, a top aide to ex-Vice President Mike Pence.
But The New York Times reported that the raid may have been related to a separate (though not wholly unrelated) issue of whether Mr Trump improperly took classified materials with him after he left the White House in January 2021 and returned to his Florida home.
Some of those close to Mr Trump told The Times that the president was in possession of “many” pages of classified materials, which could mean that the president or members of his team could be held criminaly liable for their removal.
The president was reported earlier this year to have delayed returning more than a dozen boxes of such materials to the National Archive until the threat of legal action was raised. It’s unclear if more boxes or materials were seized on Monday.
Supporters of the ex-president who rallied outside of Mar-a-Lago were joined in spirit by Republican members of Congress, who tweeted their vocal disapproval after the news broke and even, in the case of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, vowed to launch congressional investigations of the Justice Department in response.
The date of Monday’s raid has some historical significance: It is the anniversary of the resignation of Richard Nixon, the only president to ever leave office under such conditions, as he faced impeachment over his involvement in a break-in of the Democratic Party’s headquarters.
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