A former intelligence official who served in both the FBI and the CIA said the fallout from the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid resembled the events preceding the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — and predicted there could be another “catastrophic event.”
Phil Mudd, now a CNN counterterrorism analyst, worked for the CIA as an analyst specializing in South Asia and the Middle East. He later served as the first deputy director of the FBI’s National Security Branch.
Mudd appeared on CNN on Sunday to discuss the aftermath of the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s residence. Federal officials said violent threats to law enforcement spiked after the raid. Some Republican lawmakers, including Trump, have railed against the FBI and baselessly suggested the agency might target regular citizens next.
“When I followed extremists overseas, I never anticipated we would see this in America. We are,” Mudd said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, adding that today’s domestic extremists were similar to the ones he monitored.
“They require leadership to tell them that what they’re thinking is OK,” he said. “And they require validation from that leadership to suggest to them that violence is OK.”
Mudd pointed to Trump’s recent comments referring to the FBI’s investigation into him as a hoax and suggesting without evidence that the FBI may’ve planted materials at Mar-a-Lago.
“The same thing that happened before January 6 is happening today,” he continued, apparently referring to the rhetoric and false claims Trump made about the 2020 election before the insurrection.
He also pointed out the armed Trump supporters who protested in front of an FBI office in Phoenix on Saturday.
“People with AR-15s and camo are going to say, ‘I’m going to do something about it,'” he said. “That’s dangerous. I think we’re going to see another catastrophic event.”
There has already been violence linked to the backlash against the FBI. On Thursday, an armed man wearing body armor attacked an FBI office in Cincinnati. Authorities said he was fatally shot at the scene after an hours-long standoff with the police. The man was also believed to have been at the Capitol on January 6, a law-enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The FBI recovered boxes of documents, including 11 sets of classified material, from Mar-a-Lago during the search, according to records unsealed Friday. The investigation, per the records, is focused on whether Trump broke three laws related to the handling of government documents, including the Espionage Act.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said he declassified all the documents before leaving office, though he hasn’t publicly provided documentation of that. Presidential documents, classified or not, are public property and by law are managed by the National Archives.