GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – Much has been made of the term “raid” as it relates to the FBI’s visit on Monday to former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-A-Lago Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump on Monday evening released a statement in which he said the FBI had “raided” his home.

Security moves in a golf cart at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump p (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

But those words came after the first news alert about the event, which was from Peter Schorsch, who runs a news site in Florida called Florida Politics. Schorsch reported a tip that he confirmed but limited that reporting to his Twitter account:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation @FBI today executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, two sources confirm to @Fla_Pol. … Not sure what the search warrant was about.”

You will notice he didn’t use the word “raid,” because that implies an activity that didn’t occur and was perhaps inflammatory.

A search warrant is a document that requires reasonable proof of a crime, the presence of specific evidence being sought and the approval of a judge. That document typically is served at a scene to the resident or business owner. Depending on the situation, the service of that document and entry into the location may include more force or safety precautions.

An armed Secret Service agent stands outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

In the case of Mar-A-Lago, the Trumps were not home, and the warrant was provided to security personnel (and Trump and/or his attorney). His son Eric said about 30 agents took part, and they took away about a dozen boxes of documents that may be considered classified.

The FBI on its website describes in some detail the criminal justice process. It does not mention search warrants specifically but outlines why there might be an investigation.

Some have likened this pursuit of documents to the investigation about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during the investigation into an attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Some of those emails were classified, and the FBI issued search warrants related to that investigation.

What is a raid?

But was this really a “raid” at Mar-A-Lago? says describes a raid as “a law enforcement action on a home or business suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Police will select an unusual time of day, and rely on the element of surprise to collect evidence and arrest suspects before people have a chance to conceal or destroy materials of interest.”

Sometimes, if a law enforcement agency, including the FBI, conducts a “raid,” you might find doors being pounded down and people being awakened, as they were when Trump’s ally Roger Stone was arrested.

In 2020 police in Louisville, Kentucky, raided the apartment home of Breonna Taylor in search of drugs. Taylor and her boyfriend were sleeping, but he opened fire when officers knocked down the door. She wound up dead, leading to months of sometimes violent protests against police. This week four officers were charged with federal crimes for their roles in that raid.

Still many Republicans and those who work in conservative media have embraced “raid” as their operative term for the investigation at Trump’s residence. But is that appropriate?

Five clear raids

In case you want more examples, we found five raids that stand out, basic details courtesy of The History Channel’s archives:

  1. In 1969 Chicago police officers raided an apartment in which members of the Chicago Black Panthers, a militant group, were staying. They killed the group’s “chairman” and three others.
  2. J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime head of the FBI, in the days after World War I worked with the Justice Department on a series of raids to find Communist sympathizers in wake of the Russian Revolution. Those raids led to discussions about constitutional rights.
  3. Ruby Ridge was nearly 30 years ago, when the FBI, federal marshals and ATF officers were surveilling the Weaver family in Idaho because of Randy Weaver’s ties to the Aryan Nation. There was a deadly siege that lasted days before Weaver finally surrendered.
  4. The FBI also was involved in the infamous Waco, Texas, siege of 1993 against a religious group called the Branch Davidians led by a man named David Koresh. There was a standoff that lasted 51 days, and eventually 76 members of the group died in a fire.
  5. In 1974 police in Los Angeles raided a home where members of the deadly Symbionese Liberation Army were said to be hiding. That was the group that was known to have abducted the heiress Patty Hearst, who later said she had changed her name to Tania and joined the group. LAPD shot and killed six members in Compton, California, in a barrage of gunfire during its assault