Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social platform that the FBI “stole” the passports, one of which he said was expired, during the search on August 8. “This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!” he wrote.
While Trump did not offer any details on why the FBI may have wanted the passports, some Twitter users suggested that it was because the ex-president was viewed as a flight risk. Attorney Seth Abramson wrote in a Twitter thread on Monday that if the news was true, “the FBI is acknowledging what I’ve long said, which is that as a factual matter Trump is a flight risk.”
When the warrant authorizing the FBI’s raid became public days after the search, it listed three potential violations of federal law, including one part of the Espionage Act. Collectively, those violations could result in Trump seeing fines and decades of prison time if he was ever indicted, prosecuted and convicted.
The warrant showed that agents were authorized to search Trump’s residence and seize any governmental and presidential records created during his presidency, physical documents with classification markings, and information related to the “retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material.” It also allowed for the seizure of any evidence that government or presidential records and documents marked as classified were altered, destroyed or concealed.
The property receipt describes the various items seized during the raid as secret documents, top secret documents, a potential presidential record, various boxes, and something referred to as “Info re: President of France.” The receipt did not list any passports, though it was not immediately clear if they could have been included in the various boxes whose contents were not described.
U.S. Legal defines a “flight risk” as a term used by courts to describe someone likely to flee the country, state or area to avoid criminal prosecution.
While no charges have been announced against the former president and there have been no official indications yet that Trump has been designated a flight risk by a court, the news that the FBI allegedly seized the passports left some wondering why.
Independent journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted a picture of Trump’s Truth Social post and asked: “Is the former president a flight risk?”
Mike Sington, a former senior executive at NBCUniversal, also responded to Trump’s post by tweeting: “FBI just doing their job, you’re a flight risk.”
Last Thursday, days before Trump said that his passports had been seized, human-rights activist and attorney Qasim Rashid had already labeled Trump with the term.
“Frankly speaking, Trump is a flight risk,” he tweeted. “The judge should require he surrender his passport and his jet should be grounded.”
Newsweek reached out to the FBI for comment and confirmation that Trump’s passports were seized in the raid. A Trump spokesperson was contacted for comment as well.