Trump Says He Got '$5 Billion' in 'Free Publicity' From Mar-a-Lago Raid

Former President Donald Trump is rehashing the allegation that he was politically targeted with the FBI's court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago, but has now added a twist, saying the seizure of classified documents from his home has given him "about $5 billion worth of free publicity" by showcasing the South Florida resort.

Trump made the remarks in a speech in Miami on Wednesday at the Hispanic Leadership Conference organized by the America First Policy Institute. Trump used the event to revisit old grievances, particularly a federal investigation into whether he improperly handled government documents. Despite his previous vitriol over the search, Trump said the investigation's fallout has come with benefits.

The ex-president asked the crowd if they had heard of a "document hoax" that he said involved helicopters flying over Mar-a-Lago, a national historic landmark in Palm Beach.

Donald Trump at Rally
Former President Donald Trump looks over at the crowd as he speaks during a Save America rally on October 1, 2022, in Warren, Michigan. Trump said on Wednesday that the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago home has generated good publicity for the resort. Emily Elconin/Getty Images

"Well, they've given us about $5 billion worth of free publicity. People said, 'That's a nice house.' If it weren't so nice they probably wouldn't be doing it, because it gets ratings," Trump said as members of the audience laughed. "When they look they said, 'that's a beautiful place.' They raided and broke into my home."

In addition to serving as the residence for Trump and his family, Mar-a-Lago also functions as a private club that offers "the highest privileges and an elite lifestyle" for the 500 members who pay a $200,000 fee in addition to $14,000 in annual dues.

After being elected president in 2016, Trump refused to divest from his real estate holdings and was accused of using the office to steer business to his hotels and Mar-a-Lago.

Since the FBI carried out its search of Mar-a-Lago in August, Trump brought a civil lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and successfully sought the appointment of a special master with authority to set aside any seized documents that are private and protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.

An appeals court last month sided with the DOJ, allowing it to continue accessing more than 100 documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago that were marked as classified. The DOJ is seeking an expedited appeal to overturn the special master appointment.

During the speech in Miami, Trump again insisted he was being unfairly targeted.

"Everyone knows we've done nothing wrong," said Trump. "They are targeting me because they want to silence me, silence you and silence our amazing MAGA movement. There's never been a movement like this in the history of our country."

Trump said that other presidents had handled documents in more haphazard ways after leaving office. Trump alleged that "Barack Hussein Obama moved more than 20 truckloads ... over 33 million pages of papers classified and unclassified to a poorly built and totally unsafe former furniture store with no security whatsoever."

The National Archives and Records Administration previously issued a statement saying it had retained "legal and physical custody of Obama Presidential records" after he left office.

PolitiFact, a nonpartisan fact-checking operation of the Poynter Institute, and the Associated Press have deemed the allegation false.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump for comment.